Need to Know: Mexico Elects Leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador as President
Breaking with traditional party lines, voters supported López Obrador’s calls to end violence and corruption, propelling him to a landslide victory.
Published on July 2, 2018

Photo via Agencia ANDES

Celebrations broke out in city centers and street intersections across Mexico on Sunday, as Andrés Manuel López Obrador was officially announced as the Latin American nation’s next president.

According to the New York Times, president-elect López Obrador, the 64-year-old candidate of the National Regeneration Movement party, campaigned on promises to lift up Mexico’s impoverished and underserved, while vowing to end the country’s rampant government corruption and drug violence.

In past decades, Mexican presidents have largely pursued globalist economic goals which benefited a few, well-connected elite, but led to increased poverty and despair for huge swaths of the country. Promising to reject that dangerous status quo, López Obrador — often referred to by his initials, AMLO — amassed widespread support in urban and rural communities, securing more than 50% of the popular vote for the first time in Mexico’s nearly 20 years of democratic elections.

“I call on all Mexicans to reconciliation, and to put above their personal interests, however legitimate, the greater interest, the general interest,” López Obrador said during his acceptance speech in Mexico City Sunday night. “The state will cease to be a committee at the service of a minority and will represent all Mexicans, rich and poor, those who live in the country and in the city, migrants, believers and nonbelievers, to people of all philosophies and sexual preferences.”

In the U.S., President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Sunday night to congratulate López Obrador, despite incendiary remarks from the president-elect over Trump’s proposed border wall, his racist remarks about Mexicans, and more.

“Congratulations to Andres Manuel López Obrador on becoming the next President of Mexico,” Trump tweeted. “I look very much forward to working with him. There is much to be done that will benefit both the United States and Mexico!”

Joining the president in diplomatic pleasantries, López Obrador said during his victory speech that he would seek “friendly relations” with Trump and the U.S.

During his campaign, the Mexican president-elect was not nearly as polite, repeatedly telling supporters that he would not let Mexico become a “pinata battered by the United States” when it came to a border wall and tariff increases.

Supporters are confident that López Obrador can challenge Trump’s anti-Mexico policies and bring prosperity to struggling Mexicans across the country. According to Reuters, thousands of Mexicans living in the U.S. drove for hours across the border on Sunday to cast votes for López Obrador in direct rebukes of President Trump.

“This man is the only one who can make Trump end his persecution and racism against Mexicans,” Luis Evans, 58, who drove from Los Angeles to a voting booth about a mile from the border, told Reuters.

Across the globe, political experts are already expecting López Obrador to quickly challenge the U.S. president if Trump doesn’t back down from nationalist policies focused on Mexico’s border.

“He will certainly stand up to Trump should Trump engage in destructive policies like building the wall and making Mexicans pay for the wall…That won’t happen,” said Beat Wittmann, a partner at financial consultancy Porta Advisors, on CNBC’s Squawk Box Europe on Monday.

President-elect López Obrador will take office on December 1st.

Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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