Photo credit: Gobierno de la República
There are moments in history that seem to be a turning point. For Mexico the transition of power between the government of Enrique Pena Nieto and Manuel Lopez Obrador may be one of those. The ceremony followed the mechanism that has happened for many decades. However, this time there was no violence. What we have is hope.
People lined the road when Lopez Obrador was driven to the Mexican Congress. At times cyclists broke the security cordon, and one engaged the president to be in the conversation. This was one moment that we would have never seen in the United States.
The speech after he took his oath of office, and the presidential sash, was full of promises. They were important promises as well. This the fourth political transformation of the country, as understood by Obrador.
This will be “a peaceful transformation, but it will be deep and radical,” the president started. He also went in depth about how the neoliberal order failed the country and deepened economic inequality, which is very deep. He added, “It is the dishonesty of the ruling class and the small elite that has gained from their influence.” This is the source of inequality.
He also stated that a marker of neoliberal politics is a deep emphasis on corruption. Speaking of corruption, he has promised to make it a criminal offense. He also was very critical of the full privatization goals, which he compared to the era of Porfirio Diaz, which preceded the Mexican Revolution.
He added, “in the neoliberal period corruption became the main function of political power. The main plan of the new government is to end corruption and impunity.”
He seeks to revive transparency and good government. He does not seek to pursue those who did what they did. And he will lead by example. He is taking a forty percent pay cut, and all his high-level officials will as well.
Of note, he also has ordered the creation of a truth commission regarding the events of Ayotzinapa. Forty-three students went missing in 2014 in the city of Iguala in the southern state of Guerrero. They were all students from a normal school in Guerrero, a rural school. The federal government never solved the matter, and there are many denials and stories around the case. Regardless, none of them has reappeared, and they are presumed dead.
Economy and US
Regarding the economy, he promised transparency, the independence of the Central Bank, and that “there will be honesty, a legal state, clear rules, economic growth, and trust.”
He is also saying that economic development zones will be created. So Mexicans can stay in Mexico.
He also promised that the ports of Salina Cruz and Coatzacoalcos will be expanded. In between a rail line for containers will be installed. This will shorten the route for import-export from Asia to the Eastern seaboard of. the United States. The Isthmus of Tehuantepec was considered as the other possible route before the Panama Canal came to be.
Starting on January First a free trade zone will span the full border between the United States and Mexico. This economic zone will stand the full border and up to 15 miles deep. This is the largest free trade zone in the world. There the cost of gasoline will be the same price as the American border states and the same taxes.
The Value Added Tax will go down from sixteen percent to eight percent. And rent taxes will go down to twenty percent. Moreover, the minimum wage will double. The plan for this development zone is for Mexicans to stay in Mexico.
He also included a proposal, within the free trade agreement just signed, to also invest in the development of Central American economies to encourage people to stay put.
He also rejected any and all fracking technology and Genetically Modified Organisms.
Expansion of the social safety net.
He is also vowing to end some reforms, such as the educational reform, and the reform of the energy sector. He also said that they will not track the minimum wage under the rate of inflation. They will also hire two million three hundred thousand young people. While they are getting training and education they will receive $3,600 pesos per month. He wants to encourage everybody to get better educated.
He intends to also give ten million student scholarships. He intends to create upwards of 100 public universities. The expansion of the Universities is not a bad idea, but it depends on what academic level they will have.
Obrador also proposed to double the pension that senior citizens receive and to make it a universal right. This will also be expanded to people with disabilities. He also intends to guarantee a few things like support for the agricultural sector, including price guarantees.
He vowed that they are going to pay less to the upper echelons of government workers and raise the wages of rank and file. And access to private helicopters and planes is done for.
There is a lot of hope with this change of government. Mexicans came out to the streets to celebrate the president to be. And in the evening the president is in the midst of the people in the Plaza Mayor downtown. He will be given the Staff of Command from the 68 original peoples of Mexico.
Mexicans are looking forward to the promised changes. They are looking at a new day. Like Americans in Chicago did in 2008, people are expecting a new set of politics and policies that will benefit the people. The way Mexicans acted throughout the day was very similar to what we saw with Bobby Kennedy when he ran for the presidency in 1968. This matters, since the way AMLO embraced the people. He embraces the populism others accuse him off.
The Command Staff of the First People’s
The morning was the standard ceremony of the transfer of power. There were differences of course. The new president was escorted to the legislative palace in his own private Jetta. He was escorted by the city police, and the security cordon was violated a few times. Most remarkable was a cyclist that rode side by side talking with the new president, and told him he could not fail. AMLO added that detail to the end of his speech before Congress.
The afternoon, however, was remarkable. He came to the plaza mayor where he was given the command staff of the first peoples, which was sanctified in the ancient ways at five in the morning. The ceremonial center where this happened was the Templo Mayor, that is the heart of the world in the ancient cosmology.
But it was not just the staff. He was subjected to an ancient ceremony of cleansing, and prayers to the four cardinal points of the ancient world. He also received the Black Jesus from the people and the command to lead them and to consult with them. This is for the sake of the nation.
This was unique. It has no precedent in Mexican history. The plaza had tens of thousands of people. The ceremony, full of sage smoke and sacred plants had a direct connection to thousands of years of history. The staff had the head of the sacred serpent, Quetzalocoatl\Kukulkan carved. It is made of sacred woods, and there is a representative of American first peoples on that stage as well.
(Translations are direct quotes from his speech to Congress, and all errors, if any, are mine)
Transcripts of the speeches can be found at the Oficina de la Presidencia https://www.gob.mx/presidencia/