AMLO in Mexico

by Romaana Shakir

Studying abroad in a country often known for its corruption, militarized drug wars and violence has really brought its politics to my attention. For those that don’t know, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s recently elected president, has sparked much controversy and debate. AMLO has sworn to fight against extreme poverty, reduce the level of violence and create a stronger economy. It all seems wholesome, right? But I started to think that there must be a reason for such a surge of discontent amongst many Mexicans; is AMLO really what Mexico needs? This monumental political revolution has really allowed me to get to grips with the country and, more importantly, whether or not Mexico will benefit from such a change.

Unable to empower the working class from the government, it’s no surprise that there has never been a left-wing president until now. The leftists’ campaign included slogans like ‘abrazos no balazos’ (hugs not gunshots) and ‘no puedes apagar fuego con fuego’ (you can’t fight fire with fire). Coming from a country where a large majority of university students voted Labour, it’s bizarre to see people so unhappy about AMLO.

Firstly, AMLO wants to change Mexican reality: a country divided by class in which the rich live lavishly and the poor work solely for the purpose of surviving. Living in a small shack in Tabasco, AMLO experienced an awakening and now prides himself on working for the majority of Mexicans. Although many of these changes appear progressive and a step in the right direction, for example, increasing the minimum wage in attempt to support Mexico’s hidden working class, many Mexicans are fearful that Mexico will relive Venezuela’s disastrous situation. Indeed, a main topic of discussion pivotal to AMLO’s career has recently been marked by the 13-billion-dollar airport scrap midway through the project. Although just an airport to some, and only partially constructed, this would help Mexico’s international image. Its aim was to also strain capacity of the capitals present hub and improve connectivity. To have invested 13.3 billion dollars (around 10 billion pounds) into the airport and to stop now seems insane to many.

Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of AMLO’s ‘mistakes’; for instance, there have been plenty of gasoline robberies from gangs. Recently, AMLO has changed regulation, meaning that it takes far longer to obtain gas than before. Indeed, many people aren’t pleased that he plans to cut government personals and the salaries of the military. Another enormous challenge he faces is his new trade agreement with the US and Canada. The geographical location between the US and Mexico contributes to the fact that Mexico wants a good relationship with US, which buys 80% of Mexico’s produce. However, AMLO is also planning to let go of three quarters of the Mexican team that negotiates trade agreements with the US and Canada, in a push to cut government spending. This will almost definitely complicate the new trade framework within the United States.

According to many Mexicans I have spoken to, a left-wing government would be ideal. Yet, the situation is far more complicated than that. It is apparent that AMLO’s heart seems to be in the right place, but due to the government’s corrupt nature, it’s a dream far from reality.


Image: Getty Images