Wilson Center / Chris Cruz

On September 5, the Inter-American Dialogue and the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute co-hosted an event with the Mexican presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Commonly referred to as AMLO, López Obrador is the head of Mexico’s National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party. López Obrador discussed the key issues that have and will continue to shape his campaign and, if elected in 2018, his presidency.

López Obrador began by stating that the key issue of his campaign will be fighting the corruption that has, for many years, plagued Mexico’s political system at every level. According to the candidate, this corruption is the root cause of a number of challenges currently facing Mexico, including social inequality, a lack of development, and violence. López Obrador believes that ending this corruption will allow for the “rebirth” of Mexico. However, the task is not a simple one, as it will require political leaders to govern by example, abolish impunity, and redirect funds toward financing the country’s development. López Obrador mentioned that he fundamentally disagrees with a statement made by current president Enrique Pena Nieto that corruption is inherent to Mexico’s culture, which is why it is so difficult to eliminate from the political system. For López Obrador, corruption is not a question of inevitability, but rather, of political will — if leaders at the top of the political pyramid are willing to act honestly, then corruption can eventually be eliminated from Mexican politics.

López Obrador also spoke about the need for more development projects to support the Mexican countryside, which has been disproportionately negatively impacted by political and economic reforms in recent years. By eliminating unnecessary spending, the government will be able to redirect funds to support the sectors of the Mexican economy that are struggling in order to “transform the country.” One sector that López Obrador discussed in detail was the energy sector, outlining his plan to modernize existing oil refineries and build two new ones, as well as devote more resources to renewable energy projects and critical infrastructure, such as highways, trains, and access to Internet in under-developed areas.

Next, López Obrador briefly spoke about the need to end the use of force in fighting the problem of violence and narcotrafficking in Mexico, insisting that the government “cannot continue with the same failing strategy.”  Rather than “trying to fight fire with fire,” it is necessary for the government to begin addressing the root causes of the violence, such as a lack of economic opportunity and insufficient youth development efforts. “Peace and tranquility are the fruits of justice,” López Obrador stated.

Finally, the candidate reiterated his belief in the need for the future president of Mexico to adopt a respectful attitude toward the United States in order for the two countries to build a bilateral relationship based on political and economic cooperation. However, at the same time, López Obrador stressed the responsibility of the Mexican government to ensure that rights of Mexican citizens in the United States are upheld and that migrants are protected. While only time will tell who will win the Mexican presidency, the 2018 election in Mexico will undoubtedly have major implications for the U.S.-Mexico relationship, and for that reason, is certainly an election to watch.

Watch the full recording of the event in English here:

*Credits: Jill Clark & Nancy Cox

Puede ver la grabación del evento en español aquí: