Mex­ico's pres­i­den­tial front-run­ner to cam­paign by US bor­der

Arab News - - INTERNATIONAL -

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)

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