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Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador sworn in as 58th President of Mexico

Veteran leftist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been sworn in as the 58th President of Mexico. Obrador won a landslide victory in the July 1 Presidential Elections, the biggest win for any president and the first for a leftist since Mexico transitioned to multi-party democracy in 2000.

Dec 4, 2018 16:04 IST
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Veteran leftist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was sworn in as the 58th President of Mexico on December 1, 2018 in the presence a huge crowd that included world leaders including US Vice President Mike Pence, Ivanka Trump and King Felipe VI of Spain.

Lopez Obrador, who took office following his landslide victory in the July 1 presidential elections, vowed to bring an end to corruption, chronic poverty and extreme violence that have plagued the country for more than a decade.

The 65-year-old would hold the post of President of Mexico for a term of six years.

“Radical” rebirth of Mexico

Lopez Obrador, during his swearing-in, reaffirmed his intentions to sell Mexico's official presidential plane and to not live in the presidential palace, Los Pinos and open its doors to public visitors.

Obrador said that he will save money by living in more modest confines. He also said that he will receive 40 per cent of his presidential salary. He has also dissolved the thousands-strong presidential guard, opting instead for a small group of unarmed body guards.

In an extraordinary move, he also announced his intention to promote a recall referendum during his administration, adding the promise that he will never seek re-election.

Obrador pledged to bring about a “radical” rebirth of Mexico to overturn what he called a disastrous legacy of decades of “neo-liberal” governments. He promised to put Mexico’s sizeable indigenous minority first in his drive to root out inequality.

Key Promises

 Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador sworn in as 58th President of Mexico Obrador provided reassurance to the businesses regarding his policies, which includes the abrupt cancellation of a $13 billion New Mexico City airport. Markets had slumped in Mexico post-July 1 elections.

He reiterated that investments in the country of 130 million people would be safe and pledged to respect central bank independence.

He promised that his government would make savings by stopping corruption induced losses and also promised not to raise national debt or taxes.

He also promised higher wages for the poor and zero tolerance for corruption in his administration.

He promised that his government would ensure a divide between economic and political power in the country and vowed to abolish the regime that the neo-liberal policies of the previous governments had created.

He also vowed to ramp up public investment to rescue state oil company Pemex, which is suffering from heavy debts.

Obrador also reaffirmed plans to create a low-tax special economic zone on Mexico’s northern border to act as the “final curtain” to keep Mexicans working inside their homeland.

Challenges Ahead

Migration at the US border

One of the first challenges the new president will be facing is addressing the migrant crisis at the border with the United States.

In Tijuana, just across from San Diego, over 6,000 migrants, mainly from Honduras, who have been travelling by foot on a caravan since October, wait to be granted asylum into the US.

  Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador sworn in as 58th President of Mexico

The situation has strained the relationship between both countries, particularly after President Donald Trump took a strong stance against granting asylum to the Central American migrants and blamed the Mexican government for not doing enough to stop them, weeks before the midterms.

The American president is pressuring Lopez Obrador to accept a deal to keep asylum-seeking migrants in Mexico while their claims are processed in the United States.

Lopez Obrador has said that he seeks to contain migration through a deal with Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to foster development in Central America and Mexico.

Security

Another major challenge facing Obrador is the unprecedented violence in Mexico.

Over 25,000 murders, a record, were logged in 2017 and around 10,000 were registered between July and October 2018, the bloodiest four-month period since modern records began in 1997.

Other Challenges

The other challenges that await the New Mexican leader include corruption and trade and the falling market. However, just a day before Obrador took office, his predecessor Pena Nieto signed the USMCA deal that will be replacing NAFTA with the US and Canada, with no public objections from the new president.

Critics

The critics are viewing Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s governing ways as authoritarian and radical.

They have called his move of dissolving the thousands-strong presidential guard and replacing them with a small group of unarmed bodyguards as irresponsible.

Critics also accuse him for the plunge in Mexican stocks and the nation’s currency, Peso in recent weeks.

Lopez Obrador: About him and his Political Career

  Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador sworn in as 58th President of Mexico

Born on November 13, 1953 in a small village of Tepetitan, in the south-eastern state of Tabasco, Lopez Obrador graduated from the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1986 following a break from his studies to participate in politics.

He began his political career in 1976 as a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in Tabasco and eventually became the party's state leader.

In 1989, he joined the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and was the party's 1994 candidate for Governor of Tabasco.  He was the national leader of the PRD between 1996 and 1999 and in 2000, he was elected as the Head of Government of Mexico City.

He resigned as the Head of Government of Mexico City in July 2005 to enter the 2006 presidential elections, representing the Coalition for the Good of All, which was led by the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and included the Citizens' Movement party and the Labor Party. He lost by 0.58 per cent after receiving 35.31 per cent of the votes.

He contested for Presidency for the second time in the 2012 Presidential Elections, again representing the same coalition of PRD, Labor Party, and Citizens' Movement. He finished second with 31.59 per cent of the votes.

In 2012, he left the PRD and in 2014 founded the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), which he led until 2017.

  Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador sworn in as 58th President of Mexico

He contested for Presidency for the third time in the 2018 Presidential Elections, representing Juntos Haremos Historia, a coalition of the left-wing Labor Party, right-wing Social Encounter Party and MORENA.

This time, he won in a landslide victory, taking 53 percent of the vote and winning large majorities in both houses of the Congress. He is now vowing to lead a sweeping "transformation" after 89 years of government by the same two parties.

The win has been the biggest win for any president and the first for a leftist since Mexico transitioned to multi-party democracy in 2000.

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