New President in Mexico Could be Gamechanger

Source: Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

New Orleans      AMLO as Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is known, has been elected president of Mexico by a wide margin with his new party promising to end violence and corruption and run the government on a progressive platform.  Not only did Obrador win, but his coattails also are carrying his new party into office in several states and into a stronger position in the Mexican Congress.   His victory promises huge changes in the political and economic culture in Mexico and could reverberate to the benefit of the United States as well.

Despite news reports to the contrary, Obrador is not the Mexican Trump.  He is an experienced politician and former mayor of Mexico City.  He has also been a contender in previous elections, losing narrowly several years ago in an election his supporters still believe he won.

The only passing comparison to Trump might be the fact that he is disrupting the normal political class in Mexico, but in his case, it is avowedly for the common people of Mexico rather than the entitled and long-standing elites.  He campaigned aggressively on a progressive and reform platform.  In his victory speech Obrador couldn’t have been more inclusive saying,

“I call on all Mexicans to reconciliation, and to put above their personal interests, however legitimate, the greater interest, the general interest.  The state will cease to be a committee at the service of a minority and will represent all Mexicans, rich and poor, those who live in the country and in the city, migrants, believers and nonbelievers, to people of all philosophies and sexual preferences.”

He has promised to help farmers who have been hard hit, driving some of the migration pressure at the United States border.  He has promised to raise pensions for workers.  He has promised to review oil and other public contracts that have been sources of inefficiency and corruption and to fund some of his programs with the money saved from eliminating corruption.

As a progressive on the left, Obrador is already been baited by business interests invested in the status quo claiming he would be a Mexican version of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, but there is little evidence that this would be the case from his record.  The very huge size and scale of the country and its economy also means that using oil wealth as Chavez did, will not be possible in Mexico.  On the left, there are concerns that he has promised too much.  Sounds like he is in perfect position.

Who knows how deeply President Trump and his advisors understand this.  Hopefully they will not divert the hope here with ridiculous proposals for Mexico to pay for Trump’s folly, the border wall.  Regardless, the rest of us will have our fingers crossed that Obrador can turn the ship of state in the direction he has pledged.  A healthier and more equitable and secure Mexico is not only good for Mexicans but vitally important to the United States.


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Immigration Protests Everywhere in Cities and Towns, Large and Small

Worland, Wyoming     Family separation and child incarceration continues to be a political flashpoint.  President Trump may have been at one of his golf clubs again this weekend, but his zero-tolerance policy and criminalization of immigration by migrants often asking for asylum has not quelled the rage despite his attempt to get a mulligan with his do-over executive order.

Little has changed to date.  Close to 2000 children are still separated from their families.  A federal court judge in California has issued a temporary restraining order demanding that the policy be suspended and giving the administration only ten days to assure that children have been in at least telephonic contact with their parents, only fifteen days to unite children under five with their parents, and only thirty days to unite all children with their families.  Though polls indicate that America is confused about what to do about immigration, they are united with the vast majority opposing child incarceration and family separation.

Protests broke out all over the country in cities large and small with thousands participating to demand family unification.  As reported in the New York Times:

Washington was the political epicenter of the protests, similar scenes unfolded in cities around the country, including large, border cities like El Paso, state capitals like Salt Lake City and Atlanta, and smaller, interior towns like Redding, Calif. In total, organizers anticipated more than 700 protests, in all 50 states and even internationally.

Two hundred rallied in Covington, Louisiana of all places in the conservative north shore across from New Orleans.  Another two hundred rallied in Lafayette, Louisiana in the heart of a blood red congressional district.  The same story repeats over and over again as Americans draw a bold line.    No matter what is said in the West Wing border patrol officers on the border trying to obey the order and the law are releasing families rather than separating them when captured crossing the border.

Before the weekend protests women led the way with more than 500 arrested including actress Susan Sarandon and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Seattle.  She was quoted saying:

“The idea of kids in cages and asylum seekers in prisons and moms being separated from breast-feeding children, this is just beyond politics, it really is just about right and wrong.”

This crisis won’t go away with a simple signature.