Andrés Manuel López Obrador won a landslide victory in the Mexican presidential election with 53 percent of the vote, more than double his nearest rival. Claudia Sheinbaum was elected Mexico City's first female mayor.
President Trump sent Obrador a congratulatory Tweet.
Despite that warm note, US relations with Mexico, already under NAFTA and immigration strain, may come under further pressure.
Mexico's New President
López Obrador, who also goes by his initials AMLO, has been in Mexican politics for more than 40 years. He first joined the Institutional Revolutionary Party in 1976 but left the institution in 1988 due to internal problems and ideological differences. In 1989, AMLO became a member of the social democratic Party of the Democratic Revolution, in which he served as its leader between 1996 and 1990. He served as Mexico City’s mayor between 2000 and 2005 and ran for the Mexican presidency in the 2006 and 2012 campaigns. At 64, AMLO ran for the third time this year.
For years, López Obrador has been compared to Venezuela’s late leader Hugo Chávez because of his populist ideas, including the construction of oil refineries, the reduction of oil prices and equal distribution of wealth among the population, to name a few. Even staunch detractors such as former President Vicente Fox accused him of wanting to implement the same policies that have led to Venezuela’s economic and humanitarian crisis.
“Mexico is not Venezuela—it boasts a diversified economy based on exports and led by advanced manufacturing; oil represents less than 10 percent of its economy. And AMLO is not Chavez. He is a distinctly Mexican nationalist populist,” Shannon K. O’Neil, Mexico expert at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, told Newsweek.
Duncan Wood, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Wilson Center Mexico Institute, echoed the same thoughts. “Mexicans no longer believe the tactics of comparing AMLO with Nicolás Maduro or Chavez. This has more resonance among upper-middle classes, but it doesn’t among with people in the poorer echelons of society. AMLO’s economic policies are based on free trade and foreign direct investment, so this is an economic platform that any center or center-right candidate would actually be happy to embrace.”
AMLO very much resembles Trump’s personality.
“It’s important to recognize him as an economic nationalist, and it that sense, there is a great deal that he has in common with Donald Trump,” Wood said. “AMLO talks about producing food, gasoline and automobiles in Mexico. He wants to bring much more production back to Mexico, which is very similar to Donald Trump’s rhetoric. He has been criticized for having authoritarian tendencies he doesn’t like people to disagree with him, so that’s another thing he has in common with Donald Trump.”
When it comes to immigration, AMLO and the rest of the candidates had also criticized Trump’s handling of militarization across the border in April. López Obrador said that the president “is using this campaign as propaganda against Mexico..he says that there is a threat alongside the U.S.-Mexico border, but there is no such threat.”
AMLO’s comments about offering amnesty to those involved in the drug trade sparked controversy, but others believe that López Obrador will initiate a coordination among several police forces and that cooperation between corrupted authorities and criminals will end.
He inherits a trifecta of major external problems on top of internal drug trade and corruption issues.
Trifecta of External Problems
- Nasty migration issues
- Nasty NAFTA negotiations and tariff issues
- Slowing global economy
Heaven help Mexico if AMLO is indeed a Chavez clone. At this point, I don't know and no one else does either. The opinions are strong on both sides. Actions will prove louder than words.
Best wishes to Mexico!
Mike "Mish" Shedlock