Andrés Manuel López Obrador won Mexico’s presidential election in July 2018 because his pledge to remove “the mafia of power” resonated with voters angry at corrupt and self-serving elites. So far, so global. Except, unlike some other riders of the populist wave, there was nothing fortuitous or fluky about how AMLO got himself to the right place at the right time, or about his talent for exploiting this to the full. With the other candidates struggling to connect with the electorate, AMLO’s authenticity allowed him to dismiss concerns about the dubious personal histories of his own collaborators. After all, what mattered was that he was clean and that he promised not to allow those below him to be dirty once he had the power.
But now AMLO has the power, will he be able to play the “trust me” card with quite such aplomb? His plans to tackle Mexico’s horrific levels of violent crime with the creation of a military-led “National Guard” is hardly music to the ears of many civil society groups who had hoped for a new strategy that put human rights at its core. Similarly, will AMLO’s truth commission, set up to investigate the 43 missing Ayotzinapa college students, deliver on its promise to bring justice for one of the country’s most infamous crimes synonymous with impunity and injustice.
Whether the concerns continue to grow, and how AMLO handles them, may well turn into a strong early indicator of who the new president really cares about keeping on board his project.
Jo Tuckman (@jotuckman). Jo has worked as a journalist for over two decades, mostly in Latin America. She is best known for her political stories about Mexico, many of them published in The Guardian, as well as for a period directing regional coverage at VICE News. Her book, Mexico: Democracy Interrupted, was published by Yale University Press in 2012.
Professor Jenny Pearce (@LSE_LACC). Jenny is a political scientist specialising in Latin America. She works with anthropological and participatory research methodologies on social change, violence, security, power and participation in the region and beyond.
Dr Alejandra Díaz de León (@aledlcp). Alejandra is a Research Officer at the LSE Department of Sociology for the project ‘Human Rights, Human Remains: Forensic Humanitarianism and the Politics of the Grave. Her research focuses on human rights, solidarity, and on the creation of bonds, trust, and cooperation among strangers during contexts of violence and uncertainty, like the transit of Central Americans through Mexico to the United States.
Professor Gareth A. Jones (@LSE_LACC). Gareth is Professor of Urban Geography, Director of the Latin America and Caribbean Centre and Associate Member of the International Inequalities Institute. Gareth's research interests are in urban geography, with a particular interest in how people make use of the city, how cities are represented by policy and practice. He has conducted research in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, India, Ghana and South Africa.
Image credit: Eneas De Troya, CC BY 2.0