In an absolute landslide victory, Andrés Manuel López Obrador was declared Mexico’s next president on Sunday evening saying “profound change” is coming. Mexico’s new president elect won with at least 53% of the vote, more than 25 points ahead of second place candidate, Ricardo Anaya, who wished him “great success”.
This was the first time that Mexicans living abroad were allowed to vote for down-ballot races and also the first time than an independent candidate appeared on the ballot. Exit polls had shown López Obrador so far ahead of his two main rivals that they both conceded defeat well before the official results began to emerge.
In his victory speech, López Obrador, also known as “AMLO” said that he wanted to “go down in history as a good president”, but his relationship with the United States and President Trump has remained strained, to put it lightly.
Mr. López Obrador spent much of his campaign criticizing US President Donald Trump and many analysts believe it may have won him extra votes from Mexicans who were upset with the way Trump referred to Mexican criminals entering the United States illegally. During the campaign, López Obrador said he would make Trump “see reason” and “put him in his place”, but now that he has won the election in Mexico, he seems to be changing his tune to a much more placatory one, and said he would be pursuing a relationship of “friendship and cooperation” with the US.
It seems that President Trump is also trying to start the relationship off on a good note. Trump took to Twitter to post a congratulatory tweet to Mr. López Obrador.
The two countries certainly have a vested interest in getting along, at least in terms of trade, with 81% of Mexican exports going to the United States in 2017.
López Obrador has said that he would not allow Mexico to be Trump’s “whipping boy”, but also added that he wants to see “friendship” and “mutual respect” come from their relationship, wanting to avoid any possible trade war with the United States.
In the past, López Obrador has been a rather tough critic of foreign trade deals like NAFTA, blaming it for being the catalyst that pushed millions of rural farmers and ranchers into poverty after they were no longer able to compete with U.S.-subsidized food imports. “Andres Manuel has been very clear on numerous occasions that Mexico should consume what it produces, particularly for agricultural products,” said Alejandro Hope, security analyst and former agent of the Mexican intelligence agency known as CISEN. “He will probably be more prone to have an openly nationalistic industrial policy, with protective tariff barriers on specific sectors.”
Campaign manager for López Obrador, Tatiana Clouthier says he is willing to renegotiate NAFTA with Trump, and that he would like to insert guarantees of a minimum wage for Mexican workers. He is essentially wanting to engage with Trump as an equal, according to Clouthier.
“Andres Manuel has said that he wants a relationship with Trump that is based on respect, a relationship between equals, not one in which one is above and the other below.”
The president-elect of Mexico has never been shy about his feelings on immigration, in fact he has called for an “invasion of the United States” declaring it a “human right” to rush the border. “And soon, very soon–after the victory of our movement–we will defend all the migrants in the American continent and all the migrants in the world,” López Obrador said, adding that immigrants “must leave their towns and find a life in the United States.” AMLO has been quite vocal about his feelings on President Trump’s stance on immigration and has blasted Trump for them, calling them both “irresponsible” and “racist”. The 64-year-old promised to respect civil liberties saying he was “not looking to construct a dictatorship, either open or hidden”.
AMLO will be the first leftist elected president of Mexico since the 1930s when Lazaro Cardenas expropriated and nationalized foreign-owned industries,distributed land and began to make loans available to peasants farmers.
The election on Sunday followed one of Mexico’s deadliest campaigns in decades with over 130 party workers and political candidates were murdered. Of those, 48 candidates were running for office. One of the most shocking murders occured last month when congressional candidate Fernando Puron, while posing for a picture in the northern state of Coahuila, was shot in the head. Puron was one of 12 Institutional Revolutionary Party members to lose his life, according to Etellekt.
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