After receiving the presidential sash in the Mexican Congress Saturday, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) addressed the nation, delivering a strong condemnation of neoliberal economic policy. He also announced he will overturn the controversial education reform, prosecute abuses of state power and ban fracking. “Mexico will not stop thinking of Simon Bolivar and Jose Marti,” Lopez Obrador said to stress the importance of Latin American integration.
During his address, AMLO criticized the accumulation of wealth that “has impoverished the people.” “Neoliberalism has been a calamity. For example, the Energy reform that was meant to save us has only meant a fall in the production of oil and the increase in gasoline, diesel, and electricity prices.”
“Before neoliberalism, we produced and were self-sufficient in gas, diesel … now we buy more than half. In this period the purchasing power of salaries has been slashed,” AMLO said.
“Neoliberalism is corruption, It sounds strong, but privatization in Mexico has meant corruption,” AMLO explained. The theft of the nation’s wealth has become a modus operandi according to Mexico’s president.
Our main goal is “to end corruption and impunity,” AMLO said to a cheering audience. I do not endorse revenge, he said, stressing that he will focus on preventing future crimes instead of prosecuting former state officials. However, he did warn that abuses of power will be prosecuted to address cases like the forced disappearance of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa.
He also promised that under his administration the president will never order the repression of the people, nor “will we cover up violations to human rights.”
Another main element of our government will be the separation of political and economic power, AMLO stressed. “The state will stop facilitating the pillage.”
“A Republican austerity and the fight against and corruption will free enough resources for development … we will not need to increase taxes, and that is a commitment. The price of gasoline will not increase beyond inflation,” Lopez Obrador said. Throughout his campaign, AMLO proposed a 50 percent reduction in the salaries for legislators a well as the elimination of “unnecessary expenses” like private health insurance for government officials.
“The salaries for those on top will be reduced because the salaries of those in the bottom will increase.”
He is certain that the construction of at least two refineries during his administration will enable a decrease in the prices for gasoline and diesel.
As AMLO traveled to Congress in his private car, a white Volkswagen Jetta, legislators made brief interventions.
Congressmen from the National Action Party (PAN) fanned fear that AMLO will “turn Mexico into Venezuela,” an accusation regularly levied by right-wing politicians and pundits against progressive politicians.
Mario Delgado Carrillo, legislator of AMLO’s National Regeneration Movement (Morena), also intervene ahead of AMLO’s arrival.
This is more than the transference of power, “it’ s the end of a corrupt and unjust government and the inauguration of a government of the people for the people,” Carrillo said.
“Do not lie, do not steal, do not betray. We will not let you down,” he concluded.
After the ceremony in Congress, AMLO will head to the National Palace, where he will have a private lunch with over 50 foreign leaders, including Bolivian President Evo Morales, who arrived in Mexico City Thursday and Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel.
Lopez Obrador won the presidential election in July with 53 percent of the vote.