Mexico's presidential front-runner to campaign by US border
Mexico’s presidential front-runner launched his campaign close to the US border on Sunday amid tension over US President Donald Trump’s plan to put up a wall between the countries.
If leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador wins the July 1 election, he is expected to be less accommodating toward Trump than the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which has been lagging in polls because of anger over its failure to contain violence and graft.
His three-month campaign starts in Ciudad Juarez, a tribute to the city’s namesake Benito Juarez, the 19th century Mexican president from indigenous roots whose exiled government resisted a French colonialist intervention from the unruly border city.
Lopez Obrador recently criticized President Enrique Pena Nieto for “governing with recipes sent from abroad,” but he has lately softened his opposition to the government’s policy of allowing foreign investment in the oil industry.
The ruling party candidate trailing in third place, former Finance Minister Jose Antonio Meade, launched his own campaign on Sunday at the other end of the country in the southeastern town of Merida.
Second-place Ricardo Anaya began campaigning on Friday.
Silver-haired leftist Lopez Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor, first ran for president in 2006. He would seek a meeting with Trump “as soon as possible,” a senior adviser said, while indicating foreign policy would hew less closely to US regional priorities if he wins.
Trump’s tough trade policies, insults against Mexican migrants and demands for the border wall have angered ordinary Mexicans who see their country as a natural ally of the United States.
Lopez Obrador has made clear US-Mexican relations will remain strong if he wins, while promising to throw Trump a “curve ball” and defend Mexican pride. His unconventional, and at times inconsistent, policy stances have sometimes led to comparisons with the US president.
He supports the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and the US, but has called for talks started by Trump to renegotiate the deal to be suspended until after the election.
Leftist front-runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador after a conference last week organizd by the Mexican Construction Industry Association in Guadalajara. (Reuters)