Mexico marks turn to left with new president
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.”