Andrés Manuel López Obrador

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Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Lenín Moreno con el líder mexicano López Obrador (Recortado).png
President of the National Regeneration Movement
In office
20 November 2015 – 12 December 2017
Preceded by Martí Batres
Succeeded by Yeidckol Polevnsky Gurwitz
3rd Head of Government of Mexico City
In office
5 December 2000 – 29 July 2005
Preceded by Rosario Robles
Succeeded by Alejandro Encinas Rodríguez (Acting)
Leader of the Party of the Democratic Revolution
In office
2 August 1996 – 10 April 1999
Preceded by Porfirio Muñoz Ledo
Succeeded by Pablo Gómez Álvarez
Personal details
Born (1953-11-13) 13 November 1953 (age 64)[1]
Tepetitán, Macuspana Municipality, Tabasco, Mexico
Political party National Regeneration Movement (2012–present)
Other political
affiliations
Institutional Revolutionary (1976-1989)
Democratic Revolution (1989–2012)
Spouse(s) Rocío Beltrán Medina (m. 1979; d. 2003)
Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller (m. 2006)
Children 4
Website
Academic background
Alma mater National Autonomous University of Mexico
Thesis Proceso de formación del estado nacional en México 1821-1867 (1987)
Academic work
Discipline Political science and public administration

Andrés Manuel López Obrador (Spanish: [anˌdɾes maˈnwel ˈlopes oβɾaˈðoɾ]; born 13 November 1953), often abbreviated as AMLO,[2][3] is a Mexican politician. 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 PRD between 1996 and 1999. In 2000, he was elected Head of Government of Mexico City. Often described as a populist[4][5][6] and a nationalist,[7][8][9] López Obrador has been a politician of national relevance for more than two decades.[10]

López Obrador resigned the Mexico City headship in July 2005 to enter the 2006 presidential election, representing the Coalition for the Good of All, which was led by the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and included the Citizen’s Movement party and the Labor Party. He received 35.31% of the vote and lost by 0.58%. López Obrador subsequently alleged electoral fraud and refused to concede, leading a several months long takeover of Paseo de la Reforma and the Zocalo in protest.

López Obrador was a candidate in the 2012 presidential election representing a coalition of the PRD, Labor Party and Citizens' Movement.[11] He finished second with 31.59% of the vote. He left the PRD in 2012 and in 2014 he founded the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), leading that party until 2018.

López Obrador is the candidate in the 2018 presidential race for "Juntos Haremos Historia," a coalition between the left-wing Labor Party, right-wing Social Encounter Party, and MORENA. He has proposed increases in financial aid for students and the elderly, amnesty for some drug war criminals,[12] universal access to public colleges[13], cancellation of the under-construction New Mexico City International Airport,[14] a referendum over an energy reform that ended Pemex's monopoly in the oil industry,[15] stimulation of the country's agricultural sector, delay of the renegotiations of NAFTA until after the elections,[16][12] building of more oil refineries, increased spending for welfare, cutting of politicians' salaries to avoid debt spending or higher taxes[17] and decentralization of the executive cabinet by moving Secretaries from the capital to states.[18] Polls show him as the leading candidate.[19][20][21][22][23][24]

Early life and education[edit]

Andrés Manuel López Obrador was born in Tepetitán, a small village in the Macuspana Municipality, in the southern state of Tabasco, on 13 November 1953.[25] He is the firstborn son of Andrés López Ramón and Manuela Obrador González, Tabasco and Veracruz-based merchants.[26] His maternal grandfather arrived as an exile to Mexico from Ampuero, municipality of Cantabria, Spain.[27]

He studied elementary school at the Marcos Becerra school, the only one in town, and in the afternoons he helped his parents at the La Posadita store. In the mid-1960s the family moved to Tabasco's capital, Villahermosa, where they installed the clothes and shoes store Novedades Andrés. In the state capital, López Obrador attended middle school and high school, and at age 19, went to Mexico City to study at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).[28]

He studied political science and public administration at the UNAM from 1973 to 1976 and presented his thesis until 1987, titled, "Proceso de formación del estado nacional en México 1821-1867" (English: Formation Process of the National State in Mexico 1821-1867), after having held several positions within the government of Tabasco and the administration of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).[29][30][31]

Political career beginnings[edit]

Member of the PRI[edit]

He joined the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in 1976 to support Carlos Pellicer's campaign for a senate seat for Tabasco. A year later, he headed the Indigenous People's Institute of Tabasco. In 1984, he relocated to Mexico City to work at the National Consumers' Institute, a government agency.

Member of the PRD[edit]

López Obrador resigned his post working for the government of Tabasco in 1988 to join the new dissenting left wing of the PRI, then called the Democratic Current, led by Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas. This movement formed the National Democratic Front and later became the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).

Tabasco's PRD President[edit]

In 1994, he ran for the governorship of Tabasco, but lost to PRI candidate, Roberto Madrazo, in a highly controversial election[32] in which Madrazo was questioned for his expenses in political propaganda. López Obrador gained national exposure as an advocate for the rights of indigenous people when in 1996 he appeared on national TV drenched in blood following confrontations with the police for blocking Pemex oil wells to defend the rights of local indigenous people impacted by pollution.[33]

López Obrador has publicly denied being a Protestant, and in a television interview he called himself a Roman Catholic.[34][35]

National PRD President[edit]

He was president of the PRD from August 2, 1996 to April 10, 1999.

Head of Government of the Federal District (2000–2005)[edit]

Election[edit]

On July 2, 2000 he was elected Head of Government of the Federal District—a position akin to that of city mayor for the national capital district—with 38.3% of the vote.[36]

Public image[edit]

During his time as Head of Government, López Obrador became one of the most recognizable politicians in Mexico. He left office with an 84% approval rating, according to an opinion poll by Consulta Mitofsky.[37] According to an article by Reforma newspaper, he kept 80% of the promises he made as a candidate.[38][39]

Political agenda[edit]

As mayor, López Obrador implemented various social programs that included extending financial assistance to help vulnerable groups in Mexico City,[40][41] including single mothers, senior citizens, and the physically and mentally challenged. He also helped found the first new university in Mexico City in three decades, the Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México.

López Obrador hired former New York City mayor, Rudy Giuliani, to craft a zero-tolerance policy that would help reduce the escalating crime in Mexico City.[42][43]

López Obrador (center) with former President Vicente Fox (left) and former México State governor Arturo Montiel (right).

He directed the restoration and modernization of Mexico City's historic downtown, which has 16th–17th century buildings and a large number of tourist attractions. He led a joint venture with Carlos Slim Helú, a native of downtown Mexico City, to expropriate, restore, rebuild, and gentrify large parts of the area, creating attractive shopping and residential areas for middle and upper income residents.

López Obrador used fiscal policy to encourage private sector investment in housing.[44] He granted construction firms large tax breaks and changed zoning regulations to make construction projects more financially attractive. This led to the construction of more condominiums and office building during his tenure than during any other period in Mexico City history. New high density condos have emerged in the upscale neighborhoods of Polanco and Lomas.[45]

To improve traffic flow in the city's two main inner city roads, Periférico and Viaducto, he added sections of second stories to their existing infrastructure. The effect of this in aiding the traffic problem in Mexico City is positive, but only about 10% of the total length of those roads was renovated at a very high cost. An express bus service, the "Metrobús", based on the successful Curitiba model, was built down Avenida Insurgentes, cutting through the city some 20 km from north to south.[46]

Legal and political controversies[edit]

López Obrador's reputation was damaged by the lynching of federal law enforcement officers doing an undercover investigation in Tláhuac, in November of 2004.[47] The Police of Mexico City rescued one agent,[48] but the city's chief of police, Marcelo Ebrard, and federal Secretary of Public Safety, Ramón Martín Huerta, were both accused of not organizing a timely rescue effort. López Obrador's secretary of government Alejandro Encinas then declared that the lynching was part of the traditions (usos y costumbres) of the people.[49][50] After a thorough investigation, López Obrador gave Ebrard a vote of confidence, despite a request from president Vincente Fox Quesada to relieve him of duty. Later, using his constitutional powers, Fox fired Ebrard, while Martín Huerta, a member of Fox's cabinet, received a reprimand, and continued to hold the position of Secretary of Public Safety until his death in a helicopter accident.[51][52] López Obrador later appointed Ebrard as Secretary of Social Development, and supported his candidacy in the PRD primaries to run for office[clarification needed] in Mexico City.

Removal of immunity from prosecution[edit]

Banner supporting López Obrador in front of the Palacio de Bellas Artes.

Elected government officials in Mexico have an official immunity called fuero that prevents criminal charges from being brought against them, which can be removed through a process called desafuero. The process was kept slow, until in 2004 the Attorney General's Office asked Congress to strip López Obrador of his immunity under charges of a misdemeanor (ignoring a court order). Under federal law, any person with criminal charges during the electoral process would not be eligible to contest in a presidential election. Because of the general slowness of the judicial system, it was very likely that a process started in 2004 would continue until the presidential campaigns of 2006, and so the process of bringing López Obrador to court would have ended his ambitions of running for the presidency in 2006.

López Obrador used the moment to advance his popularity, and even put himself in a position where he was about to set foot in jail, only to be bailed out by political opponents who claimed López Obrador should follow the same judicial process as anyone else.

Notable newspaper editorial boards throughout the world charged that the desafuero was politically motivated (including The New York Times[53] and the Washington Post)[54] and that it should be stopped, and that excluding Obrador from the upcoming elections would delegitimize the eventual winner.

After Congress voted in favor of removing López Obrador's immunity, he asked for leave from his post for a few days. President Vicente Fox, wanting to avoid a political cataclysm, and knowing that the decision made by the congress was against the will of millions of people,[55] appeared on national TV in April 2005, indicating that the issue would not be pursued any longer. The controversy closed on a technicality, and López Obrador, despite the removal of immunity, was not prosecuted (and thus remained eligible to compete in the presidential election). A few weeks later, Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha resigned.

Presidential campaign 2006[edit]

First attempt at Mexican Presidency[edit]

Andrés Manuel López Obrador 2012

In September 2005, López Obrador was nominated as presidential pre-candidate for the PRD for the 2006 general election after the "moral leader" of the party, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, declined to participate in the internal elections when polls showed López Obrador had 90% party support.

Until March 2006 he was considered the presidential front runner by the majority of polls; however, polls in late April showed decline in López Obrador's numbers.[56]

López Obrador was criticized by some left-wing politicians and analysts for including in his close staff many former members of the PRI who actively fought against his party in the 1980s and 1990s,[57] most notably Arturo Núñez (one of the authors of a contingency fund created to resolve liquidity problems of the banking system),[58] Manuel Camacho Solís and Marcelo Ebrard. The guerrilla leader of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), Subcomandante Marcos, openly declared López Obrador to be a false left-wing candidate, arguing that he is a centrist candidate. The "moral leader" and founder of the PRD, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, did not participate in any campaign events, but stated that he would still vote for his party, the PRD.

López Obrador's proposals, including his 50 commitments, produced mixed opinions from analysts. The Washington Post ran a news article indicating that López Obrador used U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt as inspiration for his 50 commitments.[59]

On May 19, Roberto Madrazo, presidential candidate for the PRI, considered by all polls to be in a distant third place, hinted at the possibility of an alliance with López Obrador to prevent Calderón from winning the election,[60][61] after both the parties had criticized the government for what in their opinion is supposed illegal support by the federal government for the National Action Party (PAN) candidate's campaigning. The PRD has said that both parties have entered into an information sharing agreement regarding the issue.[62][63] This, combined with calls from high ranking PRI member Manuel Bartlett (former interior secretary when the alleged 1988 presidential election fraud was committed) to vote for López,[64] aroused media speculation that the PRI and the PRD would indeed ally.

On May 28, after López Obrador had discounted any such alliance because the PRI and PRD political tendencies cannot be conciliated,[65] Roberto Madrazo indicated that his comments were misunderstood, and that he will not step down nor will he endorse another candidate.[66][67] On July 6, 2006, Felipe Calderón was recognized as the winner of the presidential election by a narrow margin of 243,934 votes, though the claim is disputed by López Obrador, who claims there were widespread irregularities in the vote and wants every single vote recounted[68] (A generalized recount is only legal in extreme circumstances according to Mexican Electoral Tribunal Jurisprudence S3ELJ14-2004[69]). On July 8, 2006, López Obrador called for nationwide protests to ask for a recount of all votes, stating that "the government would be responsible for any flare-up of anger after officials rejected his demand for a manual recount of Sunday's extremely close vote."[70]

Elections results and loss to Felipe Calderon and the PAN[edit]

On July 6, 2006 the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE) announced the final vote count in the 2006 presidential election, resulting in a narrow margin of 0.56 percentage points of victory for his opponent, Felipe Calderón. López Obrador appealed against the results and mobilized large protests against the election. However, on September 5, 2006, the Federal Electoral Tribunal (TEPJF) ruled that the election was fair and that Felipe Calderón was winner and would become President of Mexico.[71]

In contesting the election, López Obrador and his coalition made several primary arguments: (a) that President Fox, the CCE and other organizations had illegally interfered in the presidential campaign, which was strictly prohibited by Mexican electoral law,[72] thereby providing grounds to annul the election; that (b) that the votes were fraudulently tallied on July 2 and afterwards; and that (c) there was widespread and significant evidence of electoral irregularities, ranging from stuffed ballot boxes and inconsistent tally reports, to improper and illegal handling of the ballot trail and voter intimidation.

Some media believed that López Obrador and his party failed to present sufficient proof of the supposed fraud. Other media believed that López Obrador did present sufficient evidence, and that the Court's decision was flawed or corrupt.

The Court did find that President Fox, and the CCE, a business interest group, had interfered in the elections in the form of campaigning for a given candidate, which is against campaign laws. However, the TEPJF determined that it was not possible to accurately evaluate the influence this interference had on the election results, but estimated the impact of Fox's interference as insignificant to the results of the election. The Tribunal stated that, similarly, it could not gauge the impact of CCE's interference.

Consequently, the Court ruled that both interferences could not be considered as a sufficient judicial cause to annul the election. In reference to the allegations of fraud, the Court similarly found that there was insufficient evidence to annul the election.[73][74]

López Obrador and his coalition had alleged irregularities in a large number of polling stations and demanded a national recount. Ultimately the electoral tribunal (TEPJF), in a unanimous vote, ordered a recount of only about 9% of the polling stations.[75] The Supreme Court later ruled that the evidence presented did not demonstrate that sufficient fraud had occurred, to change the outcome of the election.

In response to this result, in a move reminiscent of Madero's response to Diaz, Obrador's followers proclaimed him the "Legitimate President," inaugurated him in a ceremony in the Zocalo, and formed an alternative, parallel government.

“This is the essence of López Obrador’s appeal: a radical belief in himself, what some have taken to calling a “messiah complex.” But it is also this promise—that all will be all right once he is in power—that critics call his tragic flaw.” - The Atlantic, November 1, 2017[16]

Post-election protests[edit]

López Obrador announced his victory to his supporters on the night of the election day stating that according to exit polls he had won by 500,000 votes. He did not cite any polls at the time,[76] later he referenced Covarrubias[77] and IMO.[78] Several days later, the Federal Electoral Institute published its final tally, which had him down by a margin of 0.58%, or approximately 243,000 votes. López Obrador then initiated legal challenges, claiming election irregularities in 54% of polling stations, and demanded publicly the votes to be recounted "vote by vote" in all polling stations. The case was discussed by the Federal Electoral Tribunal (TEPJF) and finally dismissed.

While the case was discussed in the Electoral Tribunal, the IFE has called for the candidates to refrain from proclaiming themselves as winner, president-elect, or president until the final resolution was taken. Both candidates disobeyed this call. In an interview by U.S. Spanish-language TV network Univisión, López referred to himself as "President of Mexico".[79][80]

López Obrador held several gatherings in downtown Mexico City with hundreds of thousands of people attending, pressuring for a "vote for vote" general recount. On July 31, in an act of civil disobedience, he organized the blocking of 12 kilometers of one of the most important roads in the capital, Paseo de la Reforma, which houses several important hotels, corporate main offices and the Mexico City Stock Market.[81] Business groups said the blockades cost Mexico City businesses located near the areas of conflict daily losses of 350,000,000 Mexican pesos (about US$35 million).[82] In order to compensate, they have asked the Government of Mexico City to exempt them from paying taxes this year.

On Saturday August 5, the TEPJF met in public session to decide the outcome of the complaints the PRD and its coalition partners filed. The seven magistrates voted unanimously to order the recount of 11,839 ballot boxes in 155 districts (9.2% of the total), despite López's public demand that all votes and ballot boxes be recounted.[83] The TEPJF based its decision of a partial recount on its finding that, despite publicly demanding a vote-by-vote general recount, López Obrador's party filed legal challenges to 71,000 polling stations (54%). Therefore, by law, the TEPJF found it could order a recount of only those 71,000 polling stations in controversy. The TEPJF ruled that it could not order a recount of the votes not in controversy because "the certainty asked by the [López Obrador] Coalition is tied to the respect for the tallies certified by the citizens in the polling stations not in controversy". However, the TEPJF did certify that principles of certainty in elections were grounds for a recount in some of the stations in controversy, since there was evidence of possible irregularities.[84]

López Obrador rejected the resolution as narrow and he and his followers thus intensified their civil resistance. For about two hours on August 9, protesters took over the tollbooths on four federal highways. These roads link Mexico City to Cuernavaca, Querétaro, Toluca, and Pachuca. The protesters prevented personnel from charging tolls in some of these roads and allowed vehicles to pass freely. Also, hundreds of López supporters surrounded four of the main offices of foreign banks, including Citibank's Banamex, BBVA's Bancomer, and the Mexican subsidiary of HSBC, closing them for about four hours, claiming that the foreign banks "ransack the country" and "widen the barrier between rich and poor" and because, supposedly, these banks had participated in the politics of the country supporting the PAN candidate Felipe Calderón.[85][86]

On August 8, López Obrador sent a message to the press, regarding the blockades, where he explained to the people, "10 reasons" in which he stands to continue the "peaceful civil resistance".[87]

López Obrador held a rally, which he called a "National Democratic Convention", on September 16, Independence Day, when a military parade was also scheduled to be held. The "democratic convention" started after the military parade.

Claiming that all Mexican institutions are linked and protect each other, López Obrador said that the country's institutions "no longer work" and called for the creation of new ones.[88] He was quoted saying "the big changes in Mexico have never been produced through conventional politics, but in the streets". Some have understood this as a call for revolution.

López Obrador led a rally on the day of the state of the union speech, where sympathizers celebrated the President being prevented from delivering his speech inside congress.[89] They claimed that the President "had created a police state" in the area around the Congress building and interpreted it as a violation of the Constitution that made it impossible for Congress to be called into session, and thereby enabling Fox to address the chamber.[90] He explicitly told his followers not to be lured into violent confrontations, declaring, "We aren't going to fall into any trap. We aren't going to be provoked".[91] He also asked his followers to remain in the Zócalo, instead of marching to the legislative palace, the site of the state of the union speech, as had been planned.

According to a poll published on December 1, 2006 in El Universal, 42% believe that Calderón's victory was fraudulent, and 46% believe that it was not.[92]

"Legitimate President"[edit]

Andrés Manuel López Obrador being proclaimed "Legitimate President of Mexico" by his supporters. This designation is purely symbolic and holds no legal force.[93]

On November 20, 2006, Mexican Revolution day, López Obrador's sympathizers proclaimed him "Legitimate President" in a rally at the Zócalo in Mexico City, though no formal poll was taken.[94] The action was planned in another rally, the "National Democratic Convention", in which supporters gave him the title. At the Convention, López Obrador called for the establishment of a parallel government and shadow cabinet. He also advocated the abolition or reform of several institutions, alleging they are spoiled and corrupt, and asked for changes to the constitution to ensure the institutions work "for the people", and provide welfare and assistance to the elderly and other vulnerable groups.

After his supporters proclaimed him as "Legitimate President of Mexico",[93] López created a "Cabinet of Denunciation" to counter all moves done by President Felipe Calderón. It is expected that this "alternative cabinet" be used as a pressure mechanism to the initiatives of the government.[95]

In his speech at the proclamation ceremony, López Obrador promised to "procure the happiness of the people",[96] and announced 20 "actions of government", such as fostering a process for renewal for public institutions and defending the right to information and demanding openness of communication media.[97]

Days later, López Obrador announced that he would earn a salary of $50,000 pesos ($5000 US$) a month, provided by donations.[98]

Reactions to the "Legitimate Presidency"[edit]

Reactions to López Obrador's "legitimate presidency" varied widely. An opinion by El País said that López Obrador's "lack of consideration to democratic institutions and rule of law seriously endanger civil peace in Mexico".[99] After speculation of whether or not López Obrador's self-proclamation was against the law, the PRI stated that this political action is not a crime.[100] Liébano Sáenz, chief of staff of former President Ernesto Zedillo, stated that López Obrador "will become the conscience of the nation, which will do much good for Mexican democracy.[101] Raúl Vera López, Roman Catholic bishop of Saltillo, Coahuila, declared that López Obrador's so called "legitimate presidency" is a result of the "profound discontent with how the country has been run," and that Obrador had "very deep moral backing."[102]

A poll conducted by Grupo Reforma indicated that 56% of Mexicans disapproved of López taking the title, while only 19% approve. Sixty-three percent of those polled have also said that the former candidate has lost credibility. Other responses in the poll include 82% describing the political atmosphere in Mexico as "tense", and 45% of the polled blaming it on the PRD, with only 20% blaming it on the PAN, and 25% blaming both parties. (The poll was a telephone survey of 850 adults on November 18 with 95% confidence interval of +/-3.4% margin of error.).[103]

In the first few months of his term, President Calderón's announced initiatives that mirrored those of Obrador. These included price ceilings for tortillas,[104] in the form of a "Tortilla Price Stabilization Pact", that protect local producers of corn, a Presidential Decree limiting the President's salary and that of cabinet ministers, and a proposal for a constitutional amendment that, if passed, would significantly lower salaries for all public servants, and impose caps on compensation.[105] These measures have been interpreted by some as actions "seeking to fulfill a campaign promise to incorporate the agenda of election rival Andrés Manuel López Obrador into his government",[105] and by others as actions designed to undercut the opposition government.

Influence in the 2008 PRD elections[edit]

In 2008, the PRD held elections to renew its leadership. López Obrador's candidate, Alejandro Encinas Rodríguez was opposed by Jesús Ortega. Allegations of fraud by both factions halted recounts and raised doubts about the legitimacy of the election. Media figures commented that, while López Obrador had used phrases such as "fraud", "illegitimacy", "corruption", etc. in the 2006 Mexican elections, the same phrases were now used to describe the PRD's election, and many feared that, no matter what the outcome, there would be a "legitimate" and a "spurious" President inside the Party.[106] According to exit polls conducted by Mitofsky and IMO, Encinas won by 5% and 8% points, respectively.[107]

Occupation of Congress[edit]

The Mexican Congress was also taken by legislators of the Broad Progressive Front (FAP), the PRD, Labor and Convergence parties, on April 10, 2008 because of their disagreement with the Mexican Government regarding energy policy discussions, claiming they violated the Constitution. López Obrador's followers took both Houses of the Congress and had them chained so nobody could enter, thus avoiding the approval of secondary laws which modified the legal framework of the Mexican national oil company, Pemex.[108] Chairs and tables were used as barricades. López Obrador requested a 4-month long debate on energy policies and not a 50-day debate presented by the PAN, PRI, Green Party and New Alliance.[109]

Presidential campaign 2012[edit]

Second attempt at Mexican Presidency[edit]

López Obrador at Zócalo in 2012

In 2012, Obrador was again the candidate of the PRD for President.

Economic proposals[edit]

In November 2011, López Obrador announced some of his economic proposals:[110]

  • Job creation. A sustained 6% growth rate to generate the new 1.2 million jobs needed each year.
  • Austerity. Reducing salaries (of government officials) and unnecessary spending, saving around $30 billion USD a year.
  • Progressive fiscal reforms. The people who make less money should pay a smaller percentage of taxes than those making more money.
  • No new taxes and no increment of existing taxes. He plans to focus on ending fiscal privileges.
  • Competition. End monopolies, any private citizen who wants to participate in media, television, telephony, should be able to.

Cabinet[edit]

López Obrador announced a tentative cabinet. Among them were:[111]

Security policy[edit]

López Obrador had been a firm critic of Felipe Calderón's military approach, and promised a further application of the law, proposing to take care of the victims of the Mexican Drug War and an emphasis on the protection of human rights in the country.[112] He proposed a single police command that would gradually assume the activities of the Mexican Navy and the Mexican Army, as well as a single intelligence agency to tackle the financial networks of the Mexican criminal organizations.[112] The new police force would promote "civic and moral values." He said that he was committed to increase the salaries and benefits given to law enforcement officials throughout Mexico. His security strategy was composed of ten proposals, but all of them had a major theme: organized crime cannot be tackled if the government is responsible for the "erosion of human rights."[112]

He also stated that if he elected, he would firmly reject any intelligence activity from the United States, including money and weapons in aid. This policy would put a stop to the operations in Mexico of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Drug Enforcement Administration, including the use of unmanned drones.[112] But it could also discourage U.S. aid to Mexico ($1.6 billion since 2008).

This proposal was intended to appeal to popular resentment over U.S. actions in "Operation Fast and Furious", in which U.S. ATF agents allegedly engaged in "gunwalking."[112][113]

López Obrador promised to reactivate the economy and social growth so more Mexicans could have access to a "better life" without having to join the cartels and abandon the rule of law.[114] He also pledged to improve Mexico's educational system and create more jobs before the criminal groups have a chance to recruit them.[114] He also spoke of putting an end to corruption, impunity, drug consumption and addiction, and to the great privileges of the elite few.[114] The security Cabinet that he proposed was to work directly with the municipal and state forces in a unified command.[114]

López Obrador summed up his security policy as "Abrazos, no balazos." (Hugs, not bullets).[115] At the start of his campaign, he said that he would remove Army personnel from the streets, but then said in May 2012 that he would use the military until Mexico has a "trained, skilled and moralized police force."[115]

Election results[edit]

Candidate Party Votes %
Enrique Peña Nieto Institutional Revolutionary Party 18,727,398 38.15[116]
Andrés Manuel López Obrador Party of the Democratic Revolution 15,535,117 31.64
Josefina Vázquez Mota National Action Party 12,473,106 25.40
Gabriel Quadri de la Torre New Alliance Party 1,129,108 2.36
Non-registered candidates 31,660 0.07
Invalid/blank votes 1,191,057
Total 49,087,446 100
Registered voters/turnout 77,738,494 63.1
Source: PREP (98.95% of polling stations reporting)

The election was won by Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, with 38.2%, to 31.6% for Obrador. Obrador did not accept the preliminary results, as a majority of votes had yet to be counted.[117]

Subsequently, he claimed vote buying and other irregularities, and demanded a full recount by the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE).[118]

The IFE found some irregularities, but confirmed the results on 6 July. Obrador rejected this announcement, and on 12 July filed a complaint for invalidation of the election. He alleged vote-buying, spending in excess of election regulations, illegal fund raising, and vote fraud. But on 30 August, the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary rejected Obrador's complaint.

Peña Nieto pre-paid gift cards vote buyout controversy[edit]

At a news conference, the leftist candidate claimed that the election was "plagued with irregularities" and accused the PRI of buying votes.[119] He also claims that the PRI handed out gifts to lure voters to cast their vote in favor of them.[120] Soriana is a Wal-Mart-style chain of megastores, operating 500 grocery stores around Mexico. During the day of the 2012 presidential elections, people who voted for the PRI would receive pre-paid gift cards. Nonetheless, the PRI and the store denied such accusation[121] and threatened to sue López Obrador.[120] Peña Nieto vowed to imprison anyone – including members of the PRI – if they are found guilty of electoral fraud.[122] Despite Peña Nieto's statement many videos by citizens about the Soriana cards surfaced on YouTube.[123][124]

Foundation of MORENA[edit]

López Obrador told a rally in Mexico City's main plaza Zocalo on 9 September 2012 that he would withdraw from the Democratic Revolution Party "on the best of terms," as well as the Labor Party and Citizens' Movement. He added that he was working on founding a new party from the Movement for National Regeneration, which he would later name MORENA.[125]

Presidential campaign 2018[edit]

López Obrador is a candidate for the Mexican 2018 presidential elections. It will be the third time he has run for President, and in this election he is representing MORENA, Labor Party, and Social Encounter Party under the coalition "Juntos Haremos Historia". He currently leads the polls by double digits over the second place candidate, Ricardo Anaya.[126][127][128]

Juntos Haremos Historia[edit]

Background

On 24 June 2017, the Labor Party approved to stand for election in 2018 in an electoral alliance with MORENA, however the coalition was not officially registered before the National Electoral Institute, the electoral authorities of the country. From MORENA, the alliance was facilitated as a result of the decline of the Labor Party candidate Óscar González Yáñez, who resigned his candidacy requesting the vote in favor of Delfina Gómez Álvarez, standard-bearer in the state elections of the State of Mexico in 2017.[129][130][131]

At first, there was speculation about the possibility of a front grouping all the leftist parties: Morena, PRD, Labor Party and Citizens Movement. However, Andrés Manuel López Obrador rejected any kind of agreement due to political differences, especially after the elections in the State of Mexico, when the candidates of the PRD and Citizens' Movement continued with their campaigns refusing to support the candidate of MORENA.[132] At the end of November 2017, the leaders of MORENA and the Social Encounter Party announced that they were in talks to form a possible alliance. In this sense, Hugo Eric Flores Cervantes, president of the PES, said "We don't negotiate with the PRI, we have two options, go alone or with MORENA."[133]

Confirmation

On December 13, the coalition between Morena, the PT and the PES was formalized under the name "Juntos haremos historia" (English: Together we will make history).[134] Following the signing of the agreement, Andrés Manuel López Obrador was appointed as a pre-candidate for the three political formations.[135] It is a partial coalition that will promote López Obrador as a presidential candidate and, with respect to the legislative elections: MORENA will have to choose candidates in 150 federal electoral districts and 32 districts to the Senate; 75 deputies and 16 senators for PT and 75 deputies and 16 senators for the PES.[136][137]

The alliance has received criticism as it is a coalition between two leftist parties (MORENA and the Labor Party) with a formation related to the evangelical right (Social Encounter Party).[138] In response, the national president of MORENA, Yeidckol Polevnsky, mentioned that her party believes in inclusion, joint work to "rescue Mexico" and that they will continue to defend human rights[139], while Hugo Eric Flores Cervantes, national president of the Social Encounter Party, mentioned that "the only possibility of real change in our country is the one headed by Andrés Manuel López Obrador "and that his party had decided to put" on the right side of history."[140]

International Solidarity[edit]

France

In February 2018, the French deputy Jean-Luc Mélenchon, founder of the France Insoumise party met with Andrés Manuel López Obrador, before the official start of the electoral campaign in Mexico, and called his possible victory as president of Mexico the following way: "If they manage to thwart the plans against them and win the elections, it will be a great change for Mexico and all of Latin America."[141]

In Paris there is the "Official French Committee of MORENA," on which several occasions have presented their support to the candidate in small rallies of the European country.[142]

Spain

Miguel Ángel Revilla, president of the Autonomous Community of Cantabria, Spain, mentioned López Obrador in an interview on the "El Hormiguero" program, where he spoke of the possibility of victory for the presidential candidate in 2018: "I think he's going to win because Mexico needs a change with a good person, because they are presenting him as a Chávez-type populist, type Fidel Castro, but of that nothing: he wants to end corruption and inequality within what he can do because that country does not deserve what it has until now, I want to send my support to this man, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, from here."[143]

United Kingdom

Lopez Obrador has been been compared to as the "ideological twin" of his close friend, Jeremy Corbyn, who has visited Lopez Obrador as well as inviting Lopez Obrador over to the Parliament.[144][145][146][147]

Political positions[edit]

López Obrador has often been described as left-wing[148] and populist[149]. Outlets have claimed that López Obrador has toned-down his rhetoric in the 2018 Mexican general elections.[150][151]

Economic policy[edit]

Described as an adherent to economic nationalism and protectionist based on his economic proposals, he wants the nation to be "self-sufficient" regarding what the people consume through establishing set prices for farming equipment and supplies[152]. He has also argued in favor of doubling both senior citizens' pensions[153] and the nation's minimum wage[154], which currently stands at 88.40 Mexican pesos per day.

López Obrador suggested the idea of creating a special zone along Mexico’s northern border with lower value-added taxes, lower rent taxes, and higher wages.[155][156] His advisers also said that the same measures could also be directed at Mexico's southern border and elsewhere to contain migration.[157]

He plans a host of infrastructure projects in partnership with the private sector, especially a rail link across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, to spark economic growth in Mexico’s economically depressed south.[158]

In March 2018, at a major banking conference, he made promises not to disrupt economic stability saying, “We will support banks and we won’t confiscate assets. There won’t be expropriations or nationalizations.”[159][160]

NAFTA[edit]

López Obrador has been a critic of NAFTA, arguing small Mexican corn farmers have been hurt[161], as well as proposing to defend avocado farmers from agricultural tariffs.[162] He has asked Peña Nieto's administration to postpone the current renegotiation of the agreement, arguing both U.S. President Donald Trump and Peña Nieto do not have a strong, amicable relationship, tainted by a cancelled foreign trip.[163] During the general assembly of the American Chamber Mexico, he said he does not want the agreement cancelled, arguing it is benefiting the three nations in it.[164]

Agreeing with Trump, López Obrador has argued in favor of increasing workers' salaries because "because wages in our country are very low,they are the lowest wages in the world and we need to strengthen the domestic market and this is to improve the income of workers, you can not be paying the workers of the maquilas 800 pesos a week."[165][166]

In March 2018, economist Jesús Seade was tapped to be the lead negotiator of NAFTA's renegotiation if López Obrador wins the elections.[167]

In June 2018, during a presidential debate, he argued that if there is a failure in the NAFTA renegotiation, the domestic economy must be strengthened, arguing, "[it] cannot be fatal for Mexicans, our country has a lot of natural resources, a lot of wealth."[168][169]

Fiscal policy[edit]

Arguing he would be fiscally conservative[170], he intends on raising social spending[171] without tax hikes nor accumulation of public debt[172][173][174][175][176], via proposed austerity measures on politicians' salaries, including the President's salary and post-presidential pension.[177][178]

Domestic policy[edit]

He proposes the cancellation of the under-construction New Mexico City International Airport[179], converting the official residence and office of the President of Mexico, Los Pinos, into a cultural center[180][181], offer universal healthcare[182], and has offered to hold a referendum on his performance every two years if he wins election in July that would cut his six-year term short if he loses the consultation[183]. He proposes dispersing the Mexican cabinet throughout the country's states, with the objective of “promoting development throughout the national territory,” while the Presidency, the Ministry of National Defense, Secretary of the Navy, the Ministry of the Interior, Foreign Affairs and the Treasury remain in the capital[184][185].

Proposed cabinet[edit]

In December 2017, he presented his proposed cabinet if he won the 2018 elections[186]:

Corruption[edit]

His chief pledge is to eradicate corruption, though he is vague on how he will achieve that beyond a combination of zero tolerance and personal honesty to sweep it out “from top to bottom like cleaning the stairs.”[187] He is willing to allow international organizations come to Mexico to help investigate cases of corruption and human rights abuses, also willing to allow the creation of a body, akin to the CICIG in Guatemala, which helps local prosecutors build graft cases[188]. He also proposes to amend an article in the constitution to make it possible to try presidents for corruption[189].

Energy[edit]

He has called for a referendum over the 2013 energy reform (es) that ended Pemex's monopoly in the oil industry. [15]

López Obrador has had mixed views on the denationalization of oil that was signed into law in 2013. Rocío Nahle, his top energy adviser, has called for a freeze on future deepwater drilling auctions and a review of contracts with international oil companies.[190] In February 2018, his business adviser, Alfonos Romo, said, "[he] reviewed most of the oil tenders awarded to private drillers and found them to be beneficial for Mexico."[191]

He has also pledged on ending oil exports in order to focus internally, as well as investing in refineries along with ending the importation of gasoline from the United States[190][192], saying the nation must recover energy self-sufficiency “as a principle of national security” and should make lossmaking state refineries operable and assess biodiesel production.[172]

López Obrador has promised no more "gasolinazos" as well as no more price hikes in electricity and gas prices.[193]

Education[edit]

With his saying, "Becarios sí, sicarios, no" (English: Scholars, yes, assassins, no)[194], López Obrador proposes guaranteed schooling and employment to all young people, through universal access to public colleges[195] and intending to offer monthly scholarship money of 2,400 MXN to low-income university students.[196]

López Obrador is against the educational reform passed into law in 2013, saying he is against the use of teacher evaluations because it is used as a basis of firing them[197], saying, "It is an ideological problem of the right, of conservatism, deep down they do not want public education, basically they want education to be privatized, it is the mentality that prevails in these people, I ask them to be serene and if you really want to help improve education, do not polarize or disqualify [the teachers]."[198] He also cites that the educational reform does not address poverty as children still go to school hungry.[199]

War on drugs[edit]

As the Mexican drug war drags on into its 12th year, he reiterated his 2012 presidential run strategy of "Abrazos, no balazos" (English: Hugs, not bullets), arguing jobs and better wages, especially for younger people and the rural populace, are necessary to combat crime[200][201], not the use of more military force.[202] He has proposed amnesty on some drug war criminals[12], even proposing with the aid of international NGOs, including Pope Francis[203] and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres[204]. Hector Vasconcelos, former diplomat and Secretary of Mexicans Living Abroad and International Matters of the National Executive Committee of MORENA, said a Lopez Obrador government would gradually pull back the army and marines from the streets where they have been engaged.[205]

He is willing to establish a truth commission to bring closure to tens of thousands of people exposed to horrific murders and disappearances of their friends and family such as the 2014 Ayotzinapa kidnapping.[206][207][208]

Foreign policy[edit]

As Donald Trump accused Mexican immigrants of "bringing drugs [and] crime" during his initial campaign phase in 2015, Lopez Obrador has taken a stance against Trump's proposals of the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border as well as the deportation of undocumented immigrants in the United States. In 2017, he called on the current administration to “[present] a lawsuit at the United Nations against the U.S. government for violation of human rights and racial discrimination.” [209]

He promised to convert the 50 Mexican consulates in the United States into "procurators" for the defense of migrants, and to appoint Alicia Bárcena, current Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, as Mexico's ambassador to the UN, proposing to put pressure on the United States through organizations like the United Nations. He accused the establishment parties for the corruption that keeps migrants from receiving the support they need.[210]

Regarding migration to Mexico, he asserted his government would not "continue the dirty work" of the United States and detain Central American migrants at Mexico's southern border. Following his proposed idea of decentralizing the nation's cabinet away from Mexico City, he would move Mexico's National Institute of Migration to Tijuana, Baja California. He suggested that the NAFTA negotiations be used to put together a development plan for Central America as a means to address emigration in the region[210], including a proposed "alliance for progress" that included Mexico, the United States, Canada and Central America to foster job creation, grow the economy and pacify the region.[211]

In June 2018, López Obrador said he wants to broker a deal with U.S. President Donald Trump to stem illegal immigration through jobs and development rather than a border wall.[212]

Personal life[edit]

He is nicknamed "El Peje," named after the common Tabasco fish, the pejelagarto.[213]

On 8 April 1979, he married Rocío Beltrán Medina.[214] They had 3 sons: José Ramón (born 1982), Andrés Manuel (born 1987), and Gonzálo Alfonso (born 1991).

On 12 January 2003, Rocío died due to respiratory arrest due to lupus, which she had been suffering for several years.[215][216]

On 16 October 2006, he married for the second time with Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller.[217] Together they have 1 son, Jesús Ernesto (born 2007).

A baseball fan, he has stated his favorite team is the St. Louis Cardinals.[218]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

Unless otherwise noted, in Spanish and published in Mexico.

  • Los Primeros Pasos (First Steps)
  • ¿Y quién es? (And who's him?) by: Blanca Gómez
  • Del Esplendor à la Sombra (From Splendor to Darkness)
  • Tabasco, Víctima de un Fraude (Tabasco, Victim of Fraud)
  • FOBAPROA: un expediente abierto (FOBAPROA: an open folder)
  • Entre la Historia y la Esperanza (Between History and Hope)
  • Un proyecto alternativo de nación (An alternate nation project) ISBN 968-5956-97-9
  • Contra el desafuero: mi defensa jurídica (Against the lifting of executive immunity: my legal defense) ISBN 968-5957-90-8
  • La mafia nos robó la presidencia (The mafia stole our presidency)ISBN 970-780-215-4

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Porfirio Muñoz Ledo
Leader of the Party of the Democratic Revolution
1996–1999
Succeeded by
Pablo Gómez Álvarez
Preceded by
Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas
Party of the Democratic Revolution nominee for President of Mexico
2006, 2012
Succeeded by
Ricardo Anaya
Political offices
Preceded by
Rosario Robles
Head of Government of Mexico City
2000–2005
Succeeded by
Alejandro Encinas Rodríguez
Acting