López Obrador sworn in as President of Mexico

AMLO was sworn in as Mexican president today, heralding a historic shift to the left in Mexico

López Obrador sworn in as President of Mexico
Backed by a giant Mexican flag, the 65-year-old took the oath of office in Mexico’s lower house of Congress - Photo: Irvin Olivares/EL UNIVERSAL
English 01/12/2018 13:50 Reuters Mexico City Lizbeth Diaz & Anthony Esposito/Reuters Actualizada 14:31

Veteran leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador was sworn in as Mexican president on Saturday, heralding a historic shift to the left in a country struggling to overcome gang violence, chronic poverty, and disillusionment with the political class.

Backed by a giant Mexican flag, the 65-year-old took the oath of office in Mexico’s lower house of Congress, saying his administration would overturn what he called the disastrous legacy of decades of “neo-liberal” governments.

“Starting now, transformation is under way, ordered and peaceful but at the same time radical, because we will end the corruption and impunity that impede Mexico’s rebirth,” he said.

The first leftist to take office in Mexico in a generation also tried to reassure businesses after markets crashed since the July 1 election on worries about his policies, including the abrupt cancellation of a $13 billion airport project.

López Obrador reiterated that investments in the country of 130 million people would be safe, and vowed to respect central bank independence.

Saying his government would make savings by stopping losses from the public purse into the “sewer of corruption,” he promised not to raise national debt or taxes.

But in a reference to one of his heroes, the former president Benito Juárez who separated the church and the state in Mexico, López Obrador promised his government would ensure a divide between economic and political power in the country.

He said the government of his predecessor Enrique Peña Nieto had caused a plunge in oil output by opening the energy industry in Latin America’s second-largest economy to private investment.

Some of the toughest problems López Obrador faces are more severe than when Peña Nieto took office in 2012 vowing to tackle unprecedented violence. Like his predecessor, the new president says security will be his top priority.

More than 25,000 murders, a record, were logged in 2017. But over 10,000 were registered between July and October, the bloodiest four-month period since modern records began in 1997.

López Obrador enters office with more support than Peña Nieto, according to a Nov. 23-25 survey by polling firm Consulta Mitofsky published on Friday.

Reflecting his austere manner, López Obrador arrived at Congress in a modest white Volkswagen sedan with little visible security, in contrast to the opulent lifestyles of his predecessors.

In another sign of change, the doors of Peña Nieto’s official Los Pinos residence were thrown open to public visitors on Saturday. López Obrador has said he will save money by living in an apartment in the presidential palace.

Peña Nieto returned to Mexico from a G20 summit in Argentina on Saturday morning, on the last official flight for his Boeing Dreamliner presidential plane, which López Obrador is putting up for sale.

At 17:00 hours, the new president will give a message to the Mexican people at the balcony of Mexico City's National Palace.

In a symbolic gesture, the Staff of Command will be given to President López Obrador by 68 representatives of indigenous peoples in Mexico at Plaza de la Constitución (Constitution Square), a honor that had never been granted to a Mexican president before.

Through his Twitter account, President López Obrador shared a livestream of today's events.

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