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Mexico’s new president vows to drop neo-liberalism

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador waves during his inauguration ceremony at the Congress of the Union, in Mexico City, Mexico, on December 1, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Mexico’s new president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has denounced the neo-liberal economic policies of his predecessors as a “disaster and calamity,” vowing to tackle corruption and chronic poverty in the Latin American country.

Mexico’s first leftist president in seven decades, popularly known by his initials AMLO, was sworn in an official ceremony in the country’s parliament on Saturday.

The 65-year-old won a landslide victory in July, the third time he was running for president.

“With a mandate from the people, today we begin the fourth transformation of Mexico. It may sound pretentious or exaggerated but today is not only the start of a new government but a change of political regime,” Lopez Obrador said in his first speech to the country’s congress.

“We will carry out a peaceful and orderly but also deep and radical transformation. Because we will put an end to the corruption and impunity that are blocking Mexico’s rebirth,” he said.

Lopez Obrador blasted “the manifest failure and corruption” of neo-liberal policies during his inaugural address and said, “We will do all we can to abolish this neo-liberal regime.”

​Mexico’s new president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, delivers a speech after being sworn in at the Congress of the Union, in Mexico City, Mexico, on December 1, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Elsewhere in his remarks, the leftist leader also sought to reassure businesses despite the slump in the Mexican market following his election in July, saying Mexico remained a good place for investment.

“I promise — and I’m a man of my word — that the investments of foreign and international investors will be safe, and we will even create conditions that will allow them to get good returns, because in Mexico, there will be honesty, rule of law, clear rules, economic growth, and confidence,” Lopez Obrador said.

Mexico’s new president begins his six-year term with approval ratings of 56 percent. His predecessor, Enrique Pena Nieto, left office with only 24 percent.

Pena Nieto’s administration was plagued with corruption scandals and murder rates reaching record-high levels in Mexico.

Lopez Obrador, whose leftist National Regeneration Movement Party will lead a coalition government, is to enter office in a powerful position with a coalition that controls both houses of the Mexican parliament.

He has promised a more austere administration than those of his predecessors, reiterating many of the pledges he made during his campaign with regards to tackling crime, poverty, and corruption in Latin America’s second-biggest economy.

The former Mexico City mayor has forsworn the presidential residence, jet, and security detail, and cut his own salary by 60 percent.

Indigenous groups celebrated the inauguration of the veteran leftist leader by performing a traditional ceremony in Mexico City on Saturday.

Mexico’s new president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (C-R), attends a ceremony in which he receives a ceremonial staff from indigenous people, at the Zocalo Square, in Mexico City, Mexico, on December 1, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

AMLO is inheriting tense bilateral ties with the US, which have plunged to a historic low over President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration policies as well as his stance on trade.

During his presidential campaign, Trump had taken a hard stance against Mexican immigrants, accusing them of being “criminals” and “rapists.” The US president has now ordered an effective blockade of the border with Mexico to contain the flow of migrants from Central America via that border.

Trump has deployed thousands of military troops and National Guards to help border patrol block illegal entry at the US-Mexico border. The military has been given the right to use lethal force if necessary.

Around 6,000 Central American migrants, who have trekked across Mexico in a caravan in recent weeks, are now crammed into a baseball field in the Mexican border city of Tijuana before being processed for receiving asylum in the US — a prospect that may never materialize for many of them.

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