Revisiting López Obrador's first year as President

Mexico: Revisiting López Obrador's first year as President
Mexico’s new President Andrés Manuel López Obrador waves to supporters while arriving at Zócalo square in Mexico City, Mexico December 1, 2018 - Photo: Ueslei Marcelino/REUTERS
English 01/12/2019 16:28 Newsroom & Agencies Mexico City Reuters Actualizada 11:45
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Today, during a ceremony to commemorate his first year as Mexico's President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that although the Mexican economy is not growing, wealth is now more evenly distributed.

Today, thousands of supporters gathered at Mexico City’s main square, known as the Zócalo. Meanwhile, his detractors met at the Revolution Monument. The LeBarón family joined the demonstration but insisted they were protesting against violence and to demand justice for their family and did not blame the President for their family's massacre.

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A year ago, when the President took office, he vowed to raise economic growth to 4% per year. Yet the economy has stagnated and sunk into a mild recession during the first half of 2019. It has also embroiled in tariff wars with the U.S. after the neighboring country imposed tariffs on Mexican steel and tomatoes.

On the other hand, foreign investment has been stable, but domestic investors have been rattled by decisions made by López Obrador, including the cancellation of a USD $13 billion airport.

Moreover, although López Obrador and Donald Trump are eager for the U.S. Congress to ratify the USMCA, this has been delayed.

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Furthermore, López Obrador's party, Morena, has approved a record number of reforms and laws in one year. For example, Congress approved 8 constitutional reforms, a record number. The reforms were implemented for several purposes, including the creation of the National Guard, a gender equality law, and a referendum law that could put an end to his presidency if voters decide it.

However, in the last 12 months, Andrés Manuel López Obrador has faced a series of national and international crises. These are some of the most relevant:

1. On December 27, 2017, López Obrador launched a plan against fuel theft, commonly known as huachicoleo. The plan generated a fuel shortage in Mexico City, the state of Mexico, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, and Nuevo León for days. And despite the authorities' efforts to stop fuel theft, a clandestine fuel tap exploded in Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo on January 18, 2019, killing 137 people.

2. In February 2019, several groups and NGOs protested after the federal government canceled the allocation of resources to daycare centers. The Well-being Ministry said there was a fraud, as over 97,000 signed up in the program didn't exist and added that many of the centers lacked trained personnel or the right equipment to care for the children. The parents now receive direct financial aid.

3. U.S. President Donald Trump threatened Mexico with the imposition of tariffs on all Mexican imports if it didn't halt migration from Central America. Mexico then deployed the National Guard to both of its borders and toughened its stance on immigration.

4. The Remunerations Law established that no public servant can earn more than the President, MXN $108,000 per month yet members of the Judiciary, CNDH, and INE have filed motions to protect their salaries against cuts.

5. In order to fight corruption, the federal government reviewed its drug purchase program, which generated a shortage in August-September. The government accused pharmaceutical companies of boycotting the administration. The government is now purchasing more medicines from foreign companies.

6. Germán Martínez resigned as the IMSS chief after claiming that the Finance Ministry was meddling with the Health institution’s businesses. Later, Carlos Urzúa left the Finance Ministry and said that the current administration had been making decisions in regard to public policies without the necessary information. Josefa González Blanco resigned from the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry after it was revealed that she called an airline executive to delay a flight because she was running late. Tonatiuh Guillén López left the Migration Institute after Mexico toughened its stance on immigration.

7. The Bank of Mexico lowered Mexico's growth forecast several times. Last week, the numbers released by the INEGI confirmed that Mexico had entered a mild recession in 2019 and has stagnated during the last 12 months.

8. On October 17, Mexico's armed forced briefly detained Ovidio Guzmán, the son of the infamous drug lord “El Chapo Guzmán.” After his detention, the Sinaloa cartel launched blockades and shootings in Culiacán, forcing the security forces to free Guzmán in order to stop the violent attacks.

9. On November 3, nine members of the LeBarón family, a breakaway Mormon community that settled in Mexico decades ago, were massacred by an armed group. The FBI is now involved in the investigation since the women and children had dual Mexico-U.S. citizenship. Four suspects have been arrested in connection with the case.

10. After civil unrest in Bolivia, Evo Morales stepped down from the presidency. After it was said that his life was at risk, Mexico offered asylum to Morales and he accepted. Mexico's decision was both praised and criticized by the international community.

11. Mexico's latest crisis ensued after Donald Trump announced his intention to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups; this decision could affect Mexico's economy and opens the door to foreign intervention in the future.

12. 2019 was the most violent year registered in Mexico. From January to October 2019, there were 29,574 femicide and homicide victims.

13. López Obrador's popularity has fallen by 10% in the last 12 months; he now has an approval rate of 58.7%. This is the result of violence, the failed arrest of Ovidio Guzmán, and the murder of children and women from the LeBarón family.

An overview of President López Obrador's first 6 months in office


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