Andrés Manuel López Obrador was sworn in as the newest President of Mexico on Saturday. In his inaugural speech, he promised to fight corruption and to focus on the poor by attacking the wealthy as a “rapacious minority”. He spoke of making Mexico stronger, and condemned his predecessor’s free market policies.
He blamed the government of his predecessor, Enrique Pena Nieto, for causing a plunge in oil output by opening the energy industry in Latin America’s no. 2 economy to private investment.
Instead, he vowed to ramp up public investment to rescue state oil company Pemex, which is suffering from heavy debts.
The rhetoric is unsurprising for a man who ran Mexico City as an avowed communist and ran as a leftist populist.
It’s not merely rhetoric, though. AMLO has hit the ground running. With a legislative majority having already been seated, AMLO has been able to get some of his reform policies pushed through before his official inauguration. He has eliminated the education reform policies, for example, with a stated intent to end nationwide testing of students.
He has also indicated he will not investigate any of the prior Presidents for the financial crimes he regularly insisted they committed; this is unsurprising, considering the lack of evidence of any financial crimes.
That may be moot, however; AMLO has created a new “truth commission” to investigate the mysterious disappearance of 43 students in Guerrero over four years ago. The case inflamed the nation, as there were strong suspicions that the army had been involved and that there was a cover-up. The commission is to have broad powers, and because there is already an undercurrent of suspicion, any charges they decide to level against prior government figures will be viewed as valid by a large segment of the population. By enacting this commission, AMLO has given himself a strong weapon against his political rivals and simultaneously cemented his image as a man who puts the nation first.
Another action designed to foster that image is the decision to sell the new Presidential plane, a $200 million Dreamliner, as well as another 60 airplanes and 70 helicopters. According to the National Post, he has also abandoned the Presidential compound at Los Pinos, opening it to the public while maintaining a private household.