Mexico’s new leftist president AMLO ushers in a “change in the discourse of the government”


I think López Obrador doesn’t want to confront
Trump openly, but he’s trying to create some bridges of cooperation with other aspects,
other dimensions of the U.S. government. For example, he had a meeting recently with
a U.S. congressman about the possibility of creating some kind of inversion program in
southern Mexico and Central America. I think that’s what he wants to do, because
he is not really trying to stop the flow of migrants, because he knows, even though he
doesn’t want to acknowledge it openly, because he wants to avoid this confrontation with
Trump—he knows that sending back migrants to Central America is sending back these people
to unlivable situations because of violence. So, I think that what he wants to do is just
not to confront Trump openly, try to work in some kind of cooperation program with the
U.S. and try to create what could be, if it is ambitious enough, some kind of Marshall
or neo-Marshall program, but with southern Mexico and Central America. And about the first months of the López Obrador
presidency, I would say that there is a very powerful change in the discourse of the government,
of the federal government. If you contrast what a president like López
Obrador says to what the recent—the other recent presidents of Mexico have said, there
is a real change. So, for example, López Obrador is one of
the few Mexican politicians who talk about inequality as a main problem of Mexico. And I think he’s right. So, that’s, to a great extent, the reason
why he won last year the elections. But now the question is to find out whether
he’s really going to deliver in that sense. So, so far, he has created a very ambitious
social spending program that is going to be funded, according to his calculations, with
cuts in government spending in other areas, especially what he considers to be excessive
spending of Mexican government officials. So, this is probably going to work for a while. But in the long run what is needed is a deep
tax reform, because in Mexico, you know, the richer classes, the richest people, really
don’t pay taxes. So, I think a program of such spending as
ambitious as López Obrador’s cannot really be sustainable if there is not some kind of
deep, radical tax reform. People in Mexico feel that there’s a sense
of authenticity in what López Obrador says and what he does. So, this symbol, for example, of the selling
the presidential plane was really important in his discourse about austerity—but austerity
not in the sense, in the neoliberal sense, of cutting especially social spending, but
austerity in the sense of cutting off the excessive, let’s say, luxuries that many
government officials used to have before he came to power. He also has made this policy of having every
day, very early in the morning, probably about to start right now, these conferences with
the press. So, this is also a very important change,
because the previous president, Peña Nieto, almost practically never had a free, open,
spontaneous encounter with the press. So, López Obrador has changed that. And so, this, I think, adds up to this sense
of authenticity that he can—that he displays and that is really perceived by the Mexican
public. However, I think there are a couple of issues
that might turn problematic in the next years. So, for example, there has been also an important
change in discourse about security and about the fight against crime. But the concrete measures that this new government
is about to adopt are ambivalent in that sense. So there might be a clash between the sense
of the discourse that the president has adopted and the actual implications of the policies,
such as the creation of this so-called National Guard, that is supposed to be a hybrid between
military and civilian elements, but that leaves open the door for a continuation of the policy
of militarization that has characterized Mexico in the last 12 years, that has created a great
toll in human suffering through the disappearances of tens of thousands of people, the murder
or killing of hundreds of thousands of people, and a large amount of human rights abuses
on the part of the military in Mexico.