A Different Approach

On inauguration day, AMLO invoked a word that transfixes Mexico: impunity.
On inauguration day, AMLO invoked a word that transfixes Mexico: impunity.

On Dec. 1, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was inaugurated as president of Mexico. The new president now confronts Mexico’s supposedly intractable problems.

Mexico’s problems are numerous. Some are merely frustrating, requiring patient bureaucratic workarounds that savvy Mexican citizens have polished as a skill set. Others, however, are morally, economically and institutionally draining, alienating the decent and driving the poor deeper into poverty.

The worst of Mexico’s problems are hideously deadly. Just look at the cartel war death toll — a toll which continues to mount as drug lords launder billions of dollars while bribed police, judicial and political cronies protect them. According to official figures, in Mexico during 2017, 29,168 people were murdered. The 2018 figure may be higher.

However, Lopez Obrador has an opportunity to confront and alter for the better an intractable problem that will institutionally and morally benefit Mexico. Ultimately, the rest of North America will also benefit if he succeeds.

Understanding the opportunity requires some psychological and historical context. Lopez Obrador has been a political character in Mexico long enough to acquire a relatively rare achievement for a politician — his own internationally recognized initialism. FDR is another example. However, the comparison between FDR and AMLO begins and ends with the fact they are recognized with their initials.

FDR had a knack for selecting superb lieutenants. He also oversaw the U.S. victory in WWII. AMLO has a knack for whining about his presidential election loss in 2006. That said, in July 2018 AMLO won an overwhelming electoral victory that fraud could not mar. While whining, he also established his own political party (MORENA), which broke with the Mexican left and center-left. That took guts.

The political realignment and his victory demonstrate resilience and the ability to adapt.

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