An estimated 1.2 million people attended a rally on 24 April 2005 in support of former Mexico City Mayor
López Obrador (Photo: Antonio Olvera}



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Former Mexico City Mayor sets out
his programme if elected President

By Dr Baldemar Méndez Antonio, Mexico Correspondent

8 June 2005: Before resigning as Mayor of Mexico City at the end of July 2005 to run for President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador set out his programme if successful in the mid-2006 presidential elections. The principal parts of his programme are improved living conditions for Mexico’s native population, investment in infrastructure and scientific research, an independent judiciary, a fight against corruption and tax evasion as well as self-reliance in oil and gas.

Alejandro Encinas Rodríguez is the new Mayor of Mexico City. Mr Rodríguez is an economist, from the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM with special knowledge of development and planning. He was also researcher at the Autonomous University of Chapingo (1979-1989) and consultant with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL)

Before resigning as Mayor of Mexico City, AMLO explained his commitments if elected President. Among them are:

• To execute the San Andrés agreement signed in February 1996, between the country’s native population and the federal government (10 per cent of the population in Mexico are natives, with most of them living in wooden shacks without electricity, government schools or hospitals).
• To guarantee and to improve the quality of the education.
• To support scientific research.
• To modernize the energy sector and, within three years of being elected to make Mexico self-reliant as far as oil and gas are concerned.
•To develop industries with public and private investment. The Atlantic and Pacific Ocean will connected through the construction of two commercial ports - one in Salina Cruz, Oaxaca, and another in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz. They will be linked by a container railway line and an improved highway. The transport links will run through the Istmo de Tehuantepec, where, before the building of the Panama Canal, plans existed for a waterway between the Pacific and the Atlantic. The former Mayor of Mexico City also wants to replace Mexico’s current chaotic railway system with a modern one based on European railway technology.

Mr López Obrador is promising to be a fighter against corruption and tax evasion. He also said that he would halve the presidential salary and ensure that none of Mexico’s notoriously highly paid politicians will receive higher remuneration. The former Mayor also plans to create an independent judiciary. Currently, the country’s President appoints the judges.

Since resigning as Mayor, AMLO has been travelling throughout the country to get his message to the people and, more importantly, to organise his Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) as grassroots level in every state. At the moment Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is the only political force that is organised in all parts of the country. Mr López Obrador’s PRD is at best represented in 40 per cent of Mexico. Nevertheless and in spite of being out of the media limelight since his resignation, AMLO enjoys a 10-per-cent opinion poll lead over other presidential hopefuls.

Interview with López Obrador
Mexico City’s Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador is to run for President of Mexico. On 29 July 2005 he gave up the office of mayor in order to register as a Presidential candidate for the Party of the Democratic Revolution. In a recent interview he defined himself as an economic pragmatist, arguing that he would maintain both a cautious fiscal policy and central bank independence.

“Macro-economic balance has to be maintained,” he said. “It is just common sense. Whenever there is economic instability it always hits people who have the least.’ He maintains that he would stimulate growth ‘primarily through investment in the construction industry.” This would have a ‘multiplier effect’ on the economy. Increased public spending would be financed not by debt or extra taxation – but by eliminating governmental waste.

Mr Obrador ruled out any renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States and Canada, which he has fiercely criticised. “We are talking about asserting our rights within the treaty. We aren't talking about attempting to change it,” he said.

His assertions indicate that he would pursue an approach to economic policy similar to Brazil's leftwing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva rather than that of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. This would go some way towards appeasing businesses concerned over his leftwing rhetoric. According to the opinion polls, he now enjoys an advantage of between 12 and 17 percentage points over his nearest challenger.

As Mayor, he recently declared that the fight against poverty occupied first place in his list of 40 campaign points. He explained that the national program against poverty would be similar to that which he applied in Mexico City. He said he considered himself to be ‘humanist’ rather than ‘populist’.

NAFTA, he insists, should be similar to the European Economic Community, which involves not just the free circulation of goods, but also the equal development of member states. Such development could be achieved by strengthening internal markets, investing more in public works, especially the construction industry, and by modernising the energy sector.

He added: ‘Modernisation of the petroleum industry would be a medium term project. What I am outlining is consolidation.’ Within three years the country should be self-sufficient in gasoline and gas to the extent that energy could be exported at competitive prices, while being available to the home market at fair prices. ‘We cannot industrialise in Mexico under the present situation of prohibitive costs for gas and electric power,’ he said.

On the national debt, he insists that the truth is told. Mexico’s true debt stood at 280,000 million dollars, not the150 thousand million dollars claimed by the government.

He said that much was made of the fact that of the main foreign currencies that flowed into the country, some 18 thousand million dollars came from Mexican manpower hired in the United States. ‘We celebrate this, the sending home of millions of dollars every year, but this should cause us shame. These workers left the country out of necessity, emptying it, abandoning our whole productive capacity.’

He said the whole economic model should be changed to guarantee work in Mexico. He said it was ‘revolting’ that on average a Mexican citizen died every day attempting to cross the frontier. ‘It has to change. We can't say that the current economic politics have worked. Where have they worked? There has been no economic growth to generate employment. The national debt has tripled in 22 years. The Federal Government has sold most of the national assets. Where have the economic policies succeeded?  Why do they insist on more of the same? This is not a matter of ideology, it is political, technical, a matter of practical judgment.’ 


Former Mexico City Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the rally in his support on 24 April 2005 (Photo: Gustavo Graf)


Introducing former Mexico City Mayor López Obrador
Like the sauce by the name of which most North Americans, at least, will know the part of Mexico that is his home (Tabasco), there is one thing no one could ever say about Andres Manual Lopez Obrador, former Mayor of Mexico City: and that, of course, is that he is insipid.

Mayor Obrador was runner up in the 2004 World Mayor contest

University educated in political science, Mr. Obrador – or AMLO, as he is sometimes called – supported native Tabascans through the work of an institute he oversaw, and ?The good of all, but most of all, of the poor?, has been his credo ever since. It was he who, even before becoming the third elected Mayor of Mexico, transformed the lot of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), which was created in 1989 after the expulsion from the ranks of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which had held power for seven decades and under which the office of mayor of the capital had always been an appointment, of Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas. (Cárdenas had attempted to further democratic trends, and the presidential election he lost in 1988 was rigged. He became the first elected Mayor of Mexico in 1997.) During the presidency of Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Mr. Obrador exercised what has been widely acknowledged as his stellar organizing abilities, and nurtured and consolidated strong support for the PRD in Tabasco, and garnered 40 per cent of the votes in the 1994 race for governor, even when (it has since been revealed) his opponent spent some 60 times the total allowed by law on his campaign. More