On Dec. 1, one man stood in front of the Mexican congress. His words made one clear point. His administration would make any change necessary to fix Mexico.
That man is the newly elected president of the Morena party, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the winner after two previously failed campaigns. Voters, tired of the corruption and dishonesty of the previous government, placed their hopes in his promises, electing him as their new leader on July 1.
Richland economics professor, Carlos Martinez, said that in order for Obrador’s precidency to succeed, “He has to focus on the basic nessesities, like infrastructure or education. He should not touch the national reserve. Plus, if he builds one or two oil refineries, he can acomplish some change.”
According to The Associated Press, Obrador addressed the theme of change repeatedly. Tying in promises made during his campaign, he promised to the Mexican people that during his six-year presidency, he would locate and remove the corruption that infects the Mexican government, as well as correcting the damage done by the previous administrations, and give the power to the people.
On the surface, it all sounds like typical politicial dialogue to gain support from the populous, only this time, Obrador is not making typical changes; he is making radical changes. For instance, everyone in a political position, including the president, will have a reduced salary, with the intent to allocate the additional funds toward the public sector. Private institutions will no longer handle services such as water or gas distributions, and Mexico will no longer be dependent on foreign oil. Six new refineries are projected to be completed and operational by the middle of his presidency.
Another change was the presidential residence, Los Pinos. Housing presidents since 1934, it will now serve as a cultural learning center for the general public.
Obrador stated that he will live in his own residence.
His first official address was well received overall. Some foreign dignitaries were present in recognition of the newly elected president including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Ivanka Trump, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Most presidents have traditionally made their speeches, had a formal brunch and then moved into their new residence. This time, however, for the first time in Mexican history, a Mexcian president would also receive the Staff of Power.
As a big supporter of the native communities, Obrador was handed the Staff of Power by the native leaders from all the regions in Mexico after participating in a ritual designed to cleanse his body and spirit. Given as a symbol of trust and support, the staff is also serves as a moral guide to any leader who possesses it.
Dr. Sherry Dean, professor in the department of speech and communications explained, “Indigenous people adrore him. The reason why there is corruption in Mexcio is because the rich are in governemt possitions. Obrador is a poor man from Tabasco and he knows very well the indigenous people. He reminds me of [revolutionary leader] Emiliano Zapata.”
The ritual took place in El Zocalo in Mexico City as thousands crowdeed to witness the historical event.
When asked for her opinion on Obrador’s presidency, associate registrar at Richland, Maria Solis said, “[Mexico] needs a relief. We really need someone on government [who] will change the status quo. Let him start organizing things in Mexico. Give him some time and then we can start criticizing.”
Obrador’s image of “man of the people” was key to his victory. Born from humble beginnings and worked his way to the top. A man that despite being VIP, drove an ordinary sedan and traveled in public with no security escort.
Obrador speaks and acts with noble intentions. His proposals are certainly shaking up the political system. Still, the road to power can be treacherous. Only time will tell if Obrador will be the modern Benito Juarez, the former president who rose to power from indiginous roots and fought for a constitutional government (1961-1872), or Porfirio Diaz, the Mexican general who siezed power in an 1876 coup and ruled for 30 years.