Email
Password
Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageLopez Obrador: Mexico's new president is 'stubborn' leftist

By Jennifer GONZALEZ COVARRUBIAS, Yussel GONZALEZ (AFP)     Dec 1, 2018 in World

"Stubborn" is among the many insults that have been hurled at Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the anti-establishment leftist who became Mexico's new president on Saturday.

He considers it a compliment, an attribute he says will be used to usher in a "radical turn" in Mexican politics.

"It might seem pretentious or exaggerated to say it, but today is not just the start of a new government. It is the start of a political regime change," Lopez Obrador, 65, said in his inaugural address.

The man widely known by his initials AMLO is one of the most divisive figures in Mexican politics: his critics hate him as fervently as his fans love him.

But his vow to fight for dramatic change in Mexico worked in the July 1 election, in a nation fed up with poverty, corruption scandals and a horrifically violent drug war.

When he kicked off his third and ultimately successful presidential bid he promised to use his headstrong personality to fight for the improvements that many Mexicans are demanding.

"I'm stubborn. It's a well-known fact," he said.

"With that same conviction, I will act as president... stubbornly, obstinately, persistently, bordering on craziness, to wipe out corruption."

Those close to him can vouch for that.

"We're talking about a man whose main quality is his tenacity," Mexican writer and historian Paco Ignacio Taibo II, an outspoken supporter, told AFP.

- Fire and ice -

A supporter of Mexico' new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador watches the inauguration cerem...
A supporter of Mexico' new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador watches the inauguration ceremony on a huge screen at Mexico City's Zocalo square
CLAUDIO CRUZ, AFP

Lopez Obrador's fiery attacks on the "mafia of power" successfully tapped widespread frustration with politics-as-usual in Mexico, where the same two parties had governed for the past 89 years.

But the two-time presidential runner-up also managed to present a cooler side this time around, answering criticism with humor.

When enemies accused him of ties to Russia, he slyly turned the insult to irony, donning a Russian ushanka hat and calling himself "Andres Manuelovich."

Promising a presidency like no other, Lopez Obrador is vowing to lead his anti-corruption, pro-austerity drive by example.

He has cut his own salary by 60 percent and forsworn the presidential residence, presidential security detail and presidential jet.

"Not even Donald Trump has a plane like that," he is fond of saying.

He has clashed with Mexico's business community, with some warning he is a radical with autocratic tendencies.

Seeking to ease those fears, he has appointed a team of market-friendly advisers and backpedaled on some of his most controversial proposals.

In fact, it is hard to guess just what his policies will be.

Many Mexicans are unsure what he represents, other than something new.

He alienated some voters during the transition period with decisions like the one to cancel a $13-billion airport for Mexico City that was already one-third complete.

He based the move on a controversial referendum that he organized himself, with no supervision by electoral authorities and myriad irregularities, such as voters casting multiple ballots.

He promised more such "popular consultations" as he took office.

- Burner of bridges -

Lopez Obrador's attacks on the "mafia of power" tapped frustration with politics-as-u...
Lopez Obrador's attacks on the "mafia of power" tapped frustration with politics-as-usual in Mexico, where the same two parties had governed for the past 89 years
RODRIGO ARANGUA, AFP

Lopez Obrador also has a knack for shooting himself in the foot.

In 2006, he led for most of the presidential race. Then he lost his cool in the home stretch and insulted the sitting president, Vicente Fox, as a "big-mouth" (loosely translated).

Many observers say that may have cost him the election.

Lopez Obrador refused to accept his narrow defeat, proclaiming himself the "legitimate president" in a faux inauguration and setting up a protest camp in the heart of Mexico City that plunged the country into weeks of uncertainty.

He has never hesitated to burn political bridges.

A native of the southern state of Tabasco, he got his start in politics in the 1970s as a protest leader and member of the then-ruling PRI party -- now his enemy.

He helped launch a left-wing breakaway, the PRD, in the 1980s.

He made an unsuccessful run for governor of Tabasco in 1994, then leapt to the national political scene when he was elected Mexico City mayor in 2000.

He left the job to run for president in 2006. After a second unsuccessful presidential run in 2012, he spurned the PRD to found his own leftist party, Morena -- now the dominant force in Mexican politics.

A widower, he was remarried in 2006 to journalist and writer Beatriz Gutierrez Muller. He has four sons.

More about Mexico, Vote, lopezobrador
More news from
Latest News
Top News