López Obrador Gains Momentum Ahead of 2018 Elections

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the party leader of the left-wing National Regeneration Movement (Morena), announced some of his campaign promises for the 2018 presidential elections at an assembly in the southern state of Veracruz on February 5. This is not the first time López Obrador (referred to as AMLO by the Mexican media) has run for president in Mexico. Previously, he led the last two presidential elections representing the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). He has also formerly served as Mexico City’s mayor. Now, AMLO leads the more leftist Morena party. His populist rhetoric, so far, caters to the growing anger that many Mexicans feel toward their own president and President Trump. 

Domestic issues, such as violence, corruption, and the deregulation of gas prices, continue to stir political controversy, dividing the Mexican people. President Trump’s anti-Mexico policies, such as his executive orders concerning immigration and the U.S.-Mexico wall, garner disdain towards the United States, and Obrador has channeled this frustration by actively speaking out against Trump’s policies.

In January, for example, AMLO called on the Mexican government to submit a formal complaint to the United Nations regarding Trump’s plans to build a wall.

At a public event commemorating the centennial of the Mexican Constitution on February 5, according to Plumas Libres AMLO also stated, “We are living in difficult times, in which unity is needed. As Mexicans, we need to unite to democratically and non-violently attain the regeneration of Mexico.”

Additionally, in a jab against President Peña Nieto’s neoliberal policies, Obrador mentioned that Mexico’s 1917 Constitution established that the country’s petroleum and other natural resources belong to the state and “not to national or foreign individuals.”

AMLO promised that if his party wins the presidential elections of 2018, his party will provide two new oil refineries and provide maintenance for the six that are currently in operation. This promise directly responds to the gasoline crisis that resulted in shortages and price increases after the introduction of a deregulation law last month.

El Financiero contributor Pablo Hiriart, on the other hand, believes López Obrador made a promise he cannot deliver. According to Hiriart, the campaign objectives are “crazy. Another leg-pull by the same character who makes false promises to the poor and middle classes every six years.” Hiriart goes on to say in his column that promises such as public works programs, a re-boost of the oil industry, and scholarships would cost over a trillion pesos, furthering the nine billion peso national debt. Yet, despite major campaign promises--or rather, because of them--AMLO is ahead of the four other candidates lined up for the 2018 elections in recent polls. In an unprecedented political move, AMLO scheduled a visit to a pro-immigrant event in Los Angeles on February 12, showing his commitment to finally winning the next presidential election with votes from both sides of the border.