Who is AMLO, Mexico’s new President?

Written by Alexandra Ma for Business Insider

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), gives a thumbs up to his supporters at Mexico City's main plaza, the Zocalo, September 9, 2012. 

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, also known as AMLO, won Mexico's presidency (with 53% of the vote) in the national elections held on Sunday, July 1st.The 64-year-old populist inherits a country increasingly disillusioned with the political status quo. He campaigned on a platform of ending corruption and poverty and has vowed not to live in Mexico's ornate presidential palace and sell the official jet.

He grew up in a middle-class family in the state of Tabasco, the son of a petroleum merchant, during Mexico's oil boom. His friends at the time thought he too would become a businessman, but he chose to become a political activist and a human rights lawyer instead, fighting against big oil companies while in his 20s

On December 1, he will take over from Enrique Peña Nieto, who leaves the presidency with a mere 17% approval rating, and who has clashed with American President Donald Trump over trade and the proposed US-Mexico border wall. Mexico’s presidents are limited to one six-year term, called a sexenio, so Peña Nieto did not run against López Obrador this year.

The incoming Mexican President inherits a country plagued in many of its states with organized crime, violence, drug wars, and widespread corruption  Peña Nieto's struggle to handle the disappearance of 43 students back in 2014 has stoked massive protests against his administration ever since

AMLO has campaigned on a platform of ending corruption, reducing violence, and addressing poverty which, was immensely popular among his country’s voters. The president-elect has vowed to overthrow the "mafia of power," which he said has looted the country.

He even vowed to slash his own salary, raise those of lowly-paid government workers, and double pensions for the elderly. He also said he would sell the presidential plane — which is valued at about $430 million. He has also pledged to live in his own house, and turn Mexico's presidential palace into an art center.

His political critics, however, say that López Obrador's leftist policies could damage Mexico's economy and turn it into "another Venezuela," which is currently undergoing a massive inflation crisis.

He said he would crack down on violence in the country by having daily meetings with his security cabinet.

“His success is not an endorsement of his ideology, but rather demands for change" from a country that has grown disillusioned with the status quo, said Laura Chinchilla, the ex-president of Costa Rica.Similarly, Shannon O'Neil, senior fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, said: "He's been able to capture the mantle of the person who's on the outside who wants change."

López Obrador has previously described Donald Trump as "erratic and arrogant," and said the US president's plans to build a wall "goes against humanity, it goes against intelligence and against history."Last year, he even wrote a book titled "Oye, Trump" — or "Listen Up, Trump" — in which he railed against what he called "hispanophobia" in the US.He also said he would propose to keep NAFTA, which Trump has said he was "not happy with." But López Obrador "doesn't want to be the President who kowtows to President Trump," said Duncan Wood, director of the Wilson Center's Mexico institute.Wood recently told CNN:"He doesn't want to be the President who kowtows to President Trump. He doesn't want to be the President who sells out national pride. He wants to be a president who stands up to the United States."He wants to be a President who says, 'we deserve and we demand respect.'"

However, López Obrador has also said he would seek a relationship of "friendship and respect" with the US. Trump also appeared to extend a hand of friendship already, with a congratulatory tweet saying: "There is much to be done that will benefit both the United States and Mexico!"

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain's Labour Party and López Obrador's friend, also tweeted on Monday: "Today brings a new beginning for México."

This was AMLO’s third time running for his country’s presidency, having lost the past two disputed elections in 2006 and 2012. After losing the 2006 election, he called the results a fraud and claimed that he was "the legitimate president of Mexico" and his supporters staged sit-ins & blockades around the country. In 2012, he again claimed electoral fraud after losing to Peña Nieto — López Obrador received 31.6% of the vote, while Peña Nieto got 38.2%. Mexico's electoral tribunal recounted the votes but confirmed the original result.

Lopez Obrador recently said: "I confess that I have a legitimate ambition: I want to go down in history as a good president of Mexico. I desire with all my soul to raise the greatness of our country on high."

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