Mex­ico’s new pres­i­dent vows end to ‘ra­pa­cious’ elite

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Front Page - XIN­HUA— AFP REUTERS

MEX­ICO CITY — Vet­eran left­ist An­dres Manuel Lopez Obrador took of­fice as Mex­i­can pres­i­dent on Satur­day, vow­ing to see off a “ra­pa­cious” elite in a coun­try strug­gling with cor­rup­tion, chronic poverty and gang vi­o­lence on the doorstep of the United States.

Backed by a gi­gan­tic Mex­i­can flag, the 65-year-old took the oath of of­fice in the lower house of Con­gress, pledg­ing to bring about a “rad­i­cal” re­birth of Mex­ico to over­turn what he called a dis­as­trous legacy of decades of “ne­olib­eral” gov­ern­ments.

“The gov­ern­ment will no longer be a com­mit­tee at the ser­vice of a ra­pa­cious mi­nor­ity,” said the new pres­i­dent, who is of­ten nick­named AMLO. Nor would the gov­ern­ment, he said, be a “sim­ple fa­cil­i­ta­tor of pil­lag­ing, as it has been.”

Lopez Obrador later ad­dressed a mas­sive crowd of sup­port­ers in the heart of the cap­i­tal, promis­ing to put Mex­ico’s siz­able indige­nous mi­nor­ity first in his drive to root out in­equal­ity.

A ma­jor chal­lenge fac­ing the new leader is man­ag­ing re­la­tions with Mex­ico’s top trad­ing part­ner, the US, af­ter re­peated broad­sides by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump against Mex­ico over il­le­gal im­mi­grants cross­ing the US bor­der.

Lopez Obrador re­peated he was seek­ing to con­tain mi­gra­tion through a deal with Trump and Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau to fos­ter de­vel­op­ment in Cen­tral Amer­ica and Mex­ico.

The first left­ist to take of­fice in Mex­ico in a gen­er­a­tion also tried to re­as­sure busi­ness af­ter mar­kets slumped since the July 1 elec­tion on wor­ries about his poli­cies, in­clud­ing the abrupt can­cel­la­tion of a $13 bil­lion new Mex­ico City air­port.

Lopez Obrador re­it­er­ated in­vest­ments in the coun­try of 130 mil­lion peo­ple would be safe, and pledged to re­spect cen­tral bank in­de­pen­dence. Say­ing his gov­ern­ment would make sav­ings by stop­ping losses from the pub­lic purse into the “sewer of cor­rup­tion”, he promised not to raise na­tional debt or taxes.

But he promised higher wages for the poor and zero tolerance for cor­rup­tion in his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

One of Lopez Obrador’s first of­fi­cial acts was to throw open the gates of the se­cre­tive, sprawl­ing pres­i­den­tial res­i­dence known as Los Pi­nos, lo­cated in a cor­ner of Mex­ico City’s largest park. Closed to the pub­lic since the first parts were built in the 1930s, the com­pound will now be used for pub­lic events.

Mean­while, au­thor­i­ties are in­ves­ti­gat­ing an ap­par­ent gre­nade at­tack on the US con­sulate in the city of Guadala­jara, of­fi­cials said on Satur­day, un­der­scor­ing the se­cu­rity chal­lenges fac­ing Mex­ico’s new pres­i­dent.

No one was killed or in­jured in the at­tack, ac­cord­ing to a US of­fi­cial in Mex­ico.

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