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Mexico

Oye Trump! Mexico’s next president thinks you’re erratic and arrogant, and a lot else, too

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador: ‘The wall and the demagoguery of patriotism are no match for the dignity and humanity of the American people’

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 July, 2018, 1:17pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 July, 2018, 7:32pm

Last year, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador published a book that criticised the United States’ influence in Mexico and featured parts of speeches he made on a tour of the United States, where he called for migrant rights.

He named it “Oye, Trump,” Spanish for “Listen up, Trump.”

Now he’s Mexico’s next president.

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The leftist former mayor of Mexico City, who also is known by his initials, AMLO, has repeatedly made clear how he differs with US President Donald Trump. He has compared Trump and his inner circle’s comments about Mexicans to the way Nazis talked about Jews. He has called Trump “erratic and arrogant.”

I will act as president … stubbornly, obstinately, persistently, bordering on craziness, to wipe out corruption
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

In a speech in Los Angeles last year, he said that building a wall and using language to “insult, denigrate and discriminate” certain populations “goes against humanity, it goes against intelligence and against history.”

He is unlikely to soften that stance as president.

Lopez Obrador, 64, kicked off his third presidential bid vowing to use his headstrong personality to fight for the change that so many Mexicans are demanding this election year.

“I’m stubborn. It’s a well-known fact,” he said.

“With that same conviction, I will act as president … stubbornly, obstinately, persistently, bordering on craziness, to wipe out corruption.”

Those close to him can vouch for that.

“We’re talking about a man whose main quality is his tenacity,” said Mexican writer and historian Paco Ignacio Taibo II, an outspoken supporter.

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Lopez Obrador’s fiery attacks on the “mafia of power” tapped the frustrations of voters sick of the two parties that have governed Mexico for almost a century: the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the National Action Party (PAN).

But the two-time presidential runner-up also managed to present a cooler side this time around, answering criticism with humour and laughing off dire warnings about how he would wreck Latin America’s second-largest economy.

When enemies accused him of ties to Russia, he slyly turned the insult to irony, donning a Russian ushanka hat and calling himself “Andres Manuelovich.”

When the three other candidates took turns attacking him during debates, he calmly stayed above the fray – at one point whipping out a chart with the latest poll numbers by way of rebuttal.

“I don’t want to brag, but I humbly submit to you the latest poll,” he said.

It turned out his confidence was justified.

As his rivals battled each other to sound the toughest on corruption, Lopez Obrador easily emerged as the anti-graft poster boy, vowing to lead by example.

He vowed to halve the presidential salary if elected, live in his modest home instead of the presidential residence, and sell the presidential jet.

“Not even Donald Trump has a plane like that,” he was fond of saying.

All of Mexico’s candidates jabbed at Trump throughout their campaigns, but it was domestic issues, including corruption and violence, that took precedence in Sunday’s election.

Still, as Mexico’s incoming president, Lopez Obrador will now have to deal directly with the Trump administration. During a debate in May, Lopez Obrador said he wants “a friendly relationship with the government of the United States, but not one of subordination.”

President Enrique Pena Nieto was already struggling for popularity when he invited Trump to Mexico City in 2016 – a move that left many Mexicans unhappy. At the time, Trump was still a candidate, promising to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. Shortly after meeting Pena Nieto, Trump went to Arizona, where he said that Mexico would pay for it. “They don’t know it yet, but they’re gonna pay for the wall,” he said.

Pena Nieto has insisted that Mexico will do no such thing. And disagreement about the wall led to the cancellation of a trip the Mexican president planned to take to Washington earlier this year.

But Lopez Obrador certainly doesn’t seem any more likely than Pena Nieto to concede to that demand. At a rally in Los Angeles last year, he said he thinks “the wall and the demagoguery of patriotism are no match for the dignity and humanity of the American people.”

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse