Mexican voices: 1 year into the López Obrador presidency

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Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on Pexels.com

12/01/19 – AP News

By Amy Guthrie

Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been president of Mexico for a year, after a landslide 2018 vote. He pledged a presidency close to the people, austere, with punishment for the corrupt and greater safety and economic well-being.

Not all has gone according to plan. The country’s murder rate continues to log record highs, while economic growth this year has been flat and borders on recession. Corruption and crime remain difficult plagues to eradicate, though the administration has taken on some high-profile targets.

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Mexico’s top military brass offer president public loyalty pledge

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11/21/19 – Reuters

By Abraham Gonzalez; Anthony Esposito

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador received a pledge of loyalty from top military chiefs on Wednesday, three weeks after a report of a critical speech from an army general raised fears of dissent among the upper echelons of the country’s armed forces.

The military’s public show of support for Lopez Obrador comes amid heightened concern from Latin America’s left about the role that pressure from the armed forces played in the resignation of Bolivian President Evo Morales ten days ago.

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Former Bolivian president Morales heads to Mexico for asylum

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11/12/19 – Reuters

By Daina Beth Solomon

Bolivia’s former president, Evo Morales, was flying to Mexico on Tuesday after fleeing his South American homeland, seeking refuge under a leftist government that has supported the veteran socialist in the wake of a disputed election.

Bolivia’s first indigenous president came under Mexico’s protection after he departed Bolivia late on Monday on a Mexican Air Force jet, Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said.

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Mexican Senate approves mid-term vote recall for presidency

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10/15/19 – Reuters

By Anthony Esposito and Lizbeth Diaz

Mexico’s Senate on Tuesday approved a controversial constitutional change that would give the public a chance to vote again to either retain or remove a president halfway through their six-year term.

The controversial plan for a “recall vote” now goes to the lower chamber of Congress, where it is expected to pass given the large majority held by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s leftist MORENA party in both houses.

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Mexican president promises not to seek re-election

3/20/2019 – The Washington Post

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 (Marco Ugarte/Associated Press)

By Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has signed an open letter promising to not seek re-election after his six-year term ends in 2024.

That move was prompted by opposition fears that a proposal to let voters oust the president midway through his term might actually end up letting him serve longer.

The president’s supporters in Congress advanced legislation last week that would call a referendum halfway through presidential terms — an idea Lopez Obrador had campaigned on.

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Mexico’s lower house passes measure to cut short presidential term

3/15/2019 -Reuters

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REUTERS/Henry Romero

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s Lower House on Thursday approved a constitutional reform that would allow for referendums to cut short the six-year presidential term, a move opposition lawmakers say opens the door to allowing re-election to the nation’s highest office.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took office on Dec. 1, said during the campaign that he would hold a referendum on his performance at the middle of his term and would cut it short if he loses the consultation.

Lopez Obrador’s MORENA party and its allies hold majorities in both chambers of Congress. The constitutional reform received the required support of two thirds of lawmakers in the Lower House. It now goes to the Senate for discussion and a vote.

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Lopez Obrador Is Dismantling Democracy in Mexico

3/12/2019 – Bloomberg

President Lopez Obrador Holds Daily Morning Press Briefing
Alejandro Cegarra/Bloomberg via Getty Images

By Shannon K O’Neil

Latin America’s two biggest economies are in their first 100 days under new management. During the presidential campaigns in Brazil and Mexico, democracy’s champions worried most about Brazil, given Jair Bolsonaro’s nostalgia for military rule. Yet today it is Mexico’s democracy that is under greater threat: President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, is systematically concentrating power in an already strong executive.

From the start, AMLO has undermined democratic norms and checks and balances. Despite controlling a constitutional majority in Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies and sizable majority in its Senate, he has often chosen to work outside the formal legislative process. Instead he has relied on dubious public “referendums,” sampling small and politically skewed groups to set agricultural policy, boost pensions, authorize infrastructure projects and create scholarships.

He has attacked and stacked the courts. He quickly moved to cut judges’ salaries and take control of court officials’ evaluations and promotions. His first nominations to the highest bench include the wife of a favored contractor and party loyalists.

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Mexico City Airport Threatens to Turn Into Investor Standoff

10/23/2018 – Bloomberg

1000x-1By Daniela Guzman & Andrea Navarro

A referendum on the future of Mexico City’s partially built airport this week is shaping up to be president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s first standoff with investors who have taken a wait-and-see approach to the new government.

The nationwide vote from Oct. 25 to Oct. 28 will ask people whether they want to push ahead with the $13 billion Texcoco project, or go for a cheaper alternative further away from Mexico City. According to a national poll by El Financiero last month, 63 percent of respondents support the continuation of the airport construction.

As the referendum approaches though, investors are getting increasingly nervous. The yield on $6 billion of bonds sold to finance the new airport has soared to a record this month after AMLO, as the president-elect is known, said in a Facebook video that “we can’t finance this project” and one of his advisers warned it was two years behind schedule. It could become a litmus test of the new government’s approach to business and financial affairs.

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Despite the Trump Administration’s Declarations, There’s No Evidence Russia Is Interfering in Mexico’s Election

04/18/2018 Mother Jones

Election_MG_3455Roughly a year after Donald Trump’s upset White House victory, Shannon O’Neil, a Latin America expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote a column warning that Russia may not be done meddling in North America’s elections.

“If Russia truly wants to damage the U.S. and weaken the western world order, Mexico’s elections next year offer a more rewarding and more vulnerable target,” O’Neil warned in a November 2017 column titled “Don’t Let Mexico’s Elections Become Putin’s Next Target.”

A month later, Trump’s then National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster seemingly confirmed O’Neil’s warnings. In a December 2017 speech, McMaster reeled off a list of places where the Russian government has been accused of electoral meddling—Catalonia, England, and France—before drawing attention to our southern neighbor.

Inside the Campaign to Register Mexicans in the U.S. to Vote—in Mexico

04/12/2018 The New Yorker

guerrero electionCarolina, a fifty-four-year-old nurse from Puebla, Mexico, stopped thinking of herself as a voter when she became an immigrant. She has lived in the United States, without papers, for the past eighteen years, and during that time she hasn’t voted in a single election. In the U.S., she is not allowed to vote. In Mexico, she is—the country began allowing its citizens who live abroad to vote in 2006—but to register she needed to return home to fill out paperwork. Making the trip would have been too risky, given her legal status, and, until recently, she didn’t feel her vote mattered, anyway. “I never had any interest—in Mexico, there was no democracy to vote in,” she told me. In the late nineteen-nineties, before she left for the United States, her brother was killed by members of a drug cartel, and she and her family suspected that local officials were involved in his murder. “All the politicians in Mexico were the same,” she said. “What was the point of voting for any of them?”

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