Doubts emerge over president-elect’s campaign promises

By October 23, 2018

It was over three months ago when Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador won the vote of his nation to become the next President of Mexico. In that time, his policies have also begun to take somewhat of a shift, casting some doubt on the realistic abilities of the incoming government.

His voters, tired of a heavily corrupt political system, failed policing and skyrocketing rates of violence which suggest this year could be the country’s most deadly, were captivated by the candidate for his unusual approach to politics. It was dubbed a ‘new age’ for Mexican politics, and three months into the transition, the president-elect continues to travel around the country in an attempt to understand the true needs of his people. He is certainly painting himself as a stark contrast to the current PRI party.

What helped bring him into power were promises of real change. This varied from considering amnesty protocols for low-level criminals, cash handouts for youngsters and providing more job opportunities as well as supporting Central American development in a bid to stem the flow of migrants. The latter, of course, dominates this week’s headlines as the Honduran migrant caravan continues through Mexico, re-sparking tensions between Mexico and their volatile neighbouring president in the north.

On top of this, AMLO’s incoming ‘‘government of austerity’’ had also promised to look into investing a number of large-scale infrastructure projects such as the Mayan Train which hopes to connect a number of the country’s tourist hotspots and provide another transport link which will connect the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts.

Despite seemingly large expenditures planned by the government, even before they take power, it is believed that the new investments will be funded through the reduction of wages for civil servants, and the reduction of a number of social programmes, as well as an increased war on backdoor and corrupt funding channels. It is anticipated that public officials and ex-government staff will also no longer be allocated with a public escort and cuts to wages might occur across the government.

Although there are critics of the incoming president’s economic promises, in recent months AMLO has also met with the current government and aims to ensure a smooth economic transfer between the two parties. He also pledged to allow Morena officials to help consolidate the replacement NAFTA deal, a process which the current government is still working on. However, in a statement, AMLO also suggested that he will not blame anyone for the economy and instead take responsibility for its growth.

His sweeping promises have provided many with the faith they needed to remain hopeful about Mexico’s situation. ‘‘You have to have hope,’’ leading journalist and TV personality Alejandro Cacho told Aztec Reports. Others appear more sceptical, however, as a Mexico City tour guide claimed, ‘‘you can’t change decades of corruption in just a six-year presidency.’’ Regardless of what perception is taken of AMLO, the key here is to hold him accountable to his promises.

Subtly, however, AMLO is beginning to change his stance on policy promises, reports the New York Times. Though not a direct u-turn on ambitious plans, his wording at recent campaign events suggest that he is beginning to realise the scope of the challenge his party faces. The reality is much more complicated than the leftist president anticipated. 

Unlike before, his promises now appear to point to an increased awareness of spending and also an admittance that military forces will remain on the streets because the police are ill-trained.  His promises to support the hunt for disappeared people, and the creation of a full truth commission for the Ayotzinapa tragedy where 43 students disappeared whilst under government watch, appear at this point to remain unscathed, however the uncertainty regarding what actual plans Mexico can expect to be brought in is not what the people asked for.

So far, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador appears immune to threats of corruption and his record displays an unwavering resistance to political wrongdoing. Despite this, he will head a government that is surrounded from all sides by characters, and political figures, whose ulterior agenda still has influence. At this point, Mexico’s citizens must patiently wait to see if he keeps his promises.