Mex­ico marks turn to left with new pres­i­dent

The Tribune (SLO) (Sunday) - - Nation & World - BY CHRISTO­PHER SHER­MAN AND MARIA VERZA

Mex­i­cans are get­ting more than just a new pres­i­dent Sat­ur­day. The in­au­gu­ra­tion of leftist An­dres Manuel Lopez Obrador marks a turn­ing point in one of the world’s most rad­i­cal ex­per­i­ments in open­ing mar­kets and pri­va­ti­za­tion.

Mex­ico long had a closed, state-dom­i­nated econ­omy, but since en­ter­ing the Gen­eral Agree­ment on Trade and Tar­iffs in 1986, it has signed more free trade agree­ments than al­most any other coun­try, and pri­va­tized al­most ev­ery cor­ner of the econ­omy ex­cept oil and elec­tric­ity.

Now, though, Lopez Obrador talks a talk not heard in Mex­ico since the 1960s: He wants to build more state-owned oil re­finer­ies and en­cour­ages Mex­i­cans to “not to buy abroad, but to pro­duce in Mex­ico what we con­sume.”

Com­bined with a deep sense of na­tion­al­ism and his own place in his­tory, Lopez Obrador’s in­au­gu­ra­tion is likely to be the most home-grown, pop­ulist han­dover of power in decades.

As to un­der­score the tran­si­tion, Bri­tish Labour Party lead­ers Jeremy Cor­byn showed up for in­au­gu­ra­tion af­ter vis­it­ing Lopez Obrador a day ear­lier at his house in south­ern Mex­ico.

A party state­ment said Lopez Obrador “faces huge chal­lenges in his mis­sion of trans­form­ing Mex­ico, but Jeremy hopes his elec­tion will of­fer Mex­ico’s poor and pow­er­less a real voice and a break with the fail­ures and in­jus­tices of the past.”

“At a time when the fake pop­ulists of the far right are gain­ing ground in­ter­na­tion­ally — in­clud­ing in Latin Amer­ica,” the state­ment con­tin­ued, Lopez Obrador “has shown that a pro­gres­sive agenda for change can win power and take on the sta­tus quo.”

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