Andrés Manuel López Obrador, sharing a stage with crates of coconuts and limes, looks out upon a crowd of thousands: a sea of sombreros bobbing in the sun. They’re farmers, mostly—or used to be, before the North American Free Trade Agreement upended the old traditions here in the Mexican heartland. Now, many take whatever jobs they can find and lament that so much corn, Mexico’s iconic national crop, is now imported from the U.S.
López Obrador—or AMLO, as he’s widely known—assures the crowd that their dreams of returning to their farms are within reach. After he wins the presidential election on July 1, he says, he’ll provide them with free fertilizer and cheap fuel, and he’ll establish minimum price guarantees for homegrown crops. The fields here in the central Mexican state of Zacatecas will spring back to life, which will provide people with jobs and, in turn, stem the outward flow of migrants to America. But for this chain of prosperity to kick in, there’s one condition: An electoral deathblow must be struck against the ruling political class, a group López Obrador references in terms this rural audience appreciates.