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López Obrador Inaugurated Surrounded By A Multitude: “For The Good Of All, First The Poor”

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“Mexico will not stop thinking about Simon Bolivar and Jose Marti, who together with Benito Juarez continue to guide with their examples of patriotism the path forward for peoples and political leaders.” Lopez Obrador at his inauguration

The so-called fourth transformation has started its clock in Mexico. Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) officially became president this Saturday at 11.20 am. The handover ceremony culminated a long road that the leftist politician began in July 2005 and included two failed attempts to seize power. More than 13 years later, and finally with the tricolor band on his chest, the leader of the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) drew in his first speech a project that seeks to bury decades of neoliberalism. “Mexico’s crisis was caused not only by the failure of the neoliberal model applied for  36 years, but also by the predominance of the most filthy public and private corruption… I say this realistically and without prejudice, this economic policy has been a disaster, a calamity for the country’s public life.”

AMLO’s first message, from the tribune of the Chamber of Deputies of San Lázaro, in the center of the Mexican capital, set out his roadmap for a six-year government. It was a long speech that ranged from his social program to the promise to end fracking and transgenics. At the heart of the message, however, is the promise to end corruption and make an exemplary change in the reflection that power gives to citizens in a country accustomed to seeing its politicians surrounded by opulence and wealth. “Nothing has harmed Mexico more than the dishonesty of the rulers and the minority that has profited from influence and maneuvers,” said the president. Minutes later he added: “I have no right to fail the people of Mexico! Nothing material interests me and I am not attracted to the paraphernalia of power. I am aware of the great expectation that Mexicans now have.”

He is not initiating a change of government; it is a change of political regime. “A political and orderly transformation, but at the same time peaceful and radical,” he continued. A few minutes before beginning his administration, López Obrador proclaimed himself the protagonist of a stellar moment in Mexico’s history. This moment would follow, according to the new president who won the July elections with 30 million votes, the Mexico’s struggle for Independence (1810-1821) “which fought to abolish slavery and achieve sovereignty”; followed by the Reform (1858-1866) “in which civil power predominated and the republic was restored”; and then the Revolution (1910-1921) “where justice and democracy were fought for”. López Obrador promised to turn honesty and fraternity into a way of life and government.

Morena’s leader began his speech with a brief thank you to Enrique Peña Nieto for not intervening “as other presidents did” in the elections. “We have suffered this anti-democratic outrage in elections past,” said the politician from southeastern Mexico, who was the left’s candidate in the 2006 and 2012 elections.

Before López Obrador became president of Mexico, the political parties stated their positions about the new government. Little was heard of opposition to a party, Morena, which loosely dominates both chambers with the help of its allies (it has 314 deputies out of 500 in congress and 70 out of 128 senators).

Movimiento Ciudadano was the first to raise a concern that Moreno was a party of one and there could be a concentration of power. “Mexico is not a country of one voice,” warned Senator Clemente Castañeda.  He added that the Legislative branch is not just a window where the president’s designs are resolved. A similar statement was made minutes later by Mauricio Kuri of the PAN, that governs 12 of Mexico’s 32 states and controls nearly 500 municipalities in the country (out of more than 2,000). “The omnipresence of the state is not the solution, it is the problem,” he said.

Peña Nieto, who leaves the presidency with a 20% approval rating, listened a meter away as López Obrador promised immunity for his administration, one that was marked by corruption scandals in his cabinet and in some former governors of his party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). “We are going to begin this new stage without persecuting anyone because we are not going to turn this into a circus. If we start opening files, we would dedicate ourselves to looking for scapegoats, we would have to start with those who are in the public and private sectors. There wouldn’t be enough courts or jails. We would put the country into a dynamic that could produce a fracture,” said the president, who asked the citizens to put an end to it and start a new story.

This provoked reactions from the opposition. In a surprising act, the right-wing bench of the National Action Party (PAN) began counting from 1 to 43 in memory of the students who disappeared in Ayotzinapa in September 2014. The gesture has been used in various demonstrations – never called by the PAN by the way – that ask not to forget one of the most atrocious crimes happened in the government that came to an end. Legislators from other parties showed messages calling for the prosecution of Enrique Peña Nieto. “Neither forgiveness nor forgetfulness” and “Peña, prison awaits you,” said other signs in the hands of opposition senators.

The new Mexican government began with several foreign guests present. The King of Spain, Felipe VI, and the Presidents of Cuba, Miguel Díaz Canel; Bolivia, Evo Morales; Ecuador, Lenín Moreno; Peru, Martín Vizcarra; Colombia, Iván Duque, among others, stand out. The United States Government sent Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, whose husband, Jared Kushner, was decorated by the Government of Peña Nieto on the last day of his mandate for his efforts in the negotiations of the new free trade agreement. Nicolás Maduro, the president of Venezuela, was not in the legislature. In spite of this, he was attacked by the right-wing bench of the PAN, which hung a blanket that said “you are not welcome”. Maduro, however, he was present at the National Palace.

In the House of Representatives the new president referred to his controversial proposal of a National Guard, a newly created corps with training and military elements that will help pacify Mexico; now in the most violent year in its recent history. And he justified it with eight worrying words: “We don’t have police to take care of the citizens.”

López Obrador admitted in September not to be completely convinced with the creation of this body. “It’s a controversial issue, but I have the right to express my point of view,” he said Saturday as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. These words were followed by a fierce defense of the Army, which, along with the Navy, has been in charge of leading the war against drug trafficking and organized crime.

“The Army has never carried out a coup d’état to a civilian authority. In Mexico we don’t know of soldiers who are part of the oligarchy and they have the backing of public opinion,” defended López Obrador, who seasoned his speech with some historical data, such as that the last rebellion within the militia that took place in 1938.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador reaffirmed his commitment not to lie, steal or betray the people of Mexico.

After receiving the baton in front of tens of thousands of people in the capital’s Zócalo, he said that he is about to begin a modern society forged from below.

“We are going to give special attention to the indigenous peoples of Mexico, it is an ignominy that our Mexican peoples live under the weight of oppression and poverty on their backs. That’s why all government programs will have indigenous people as its priority,” he said.

The president reaffirmed that “for the good of all, first the poor,” that was followed by a emormous unison of applause in the Plaza de la Constitución.

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