Now That López Obrador Has Won, Cutting Corruption And Violence In Mexico Are His Biggest Challenges

“As one voter told me yesterday, ‘we have to press the reset button on this nation.”

By Rhonda Fanning & Joy DiazJuly 2, 2018 10:48 am,

On Sunday, a populist leftist surprised no one by winning the presidency of Mexico. His promise to voters was something along the lines of “make Mexico great again.”

Andrés Manuel López Obrador received 53 percent of the vote, for more than double the votes of his nearest rival. For that reason, his victory is being characterized as a landslide.

Alfredo Corchado is the Mexico border correspondent for the Dallas Morning News  and author of “Homelands: Four Friends, Two Countries, and the Fate of the Great Mexican-American Migration.” He says Obrador’s decisive victory reflects the high level of disgust Mexican voters have for their current government. He says voters are fed up with corruption and the high levels of violence in the country.

“I was impressed [by] the sheer determination of voters to turn out, and to vote and to stand in some long, massive lines,” Corchado says.

He says that when polling places ran out of ballots because of high voter turnout, citizens would go to other polling places, hoping to cast a vote.

“There was a real sense of ‘we have to do something. We have to right the course of this country.’ As one voter told me yesterday, ‘we have to press the reset button on this nation,” Corchado says.

Richard Pineda, an associate professor, and director of the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso says Obrador’s win makes the first time in many years that a presidential candidate enters office with a clear mandate.

“Not only did we see massive turnout, to actually push his name through as the president, but you also saw the replacement of hundreds of seats across the country  and in the legislature and other positions,” Pineda says.

Pineda says Obrador’s mandate will translate into political capital that the new president can use to get the changes he wants.

Corchado says Obrador’s acceptance speech seemed to indicate he wanted to reconcile, and work with members of other parties who remain part of the Mexican government.

“The campaign is over, and so he has to strike an even more moderate tone, to try to continue  luring investors from outside,” he says. “Because what he’s promising to do is so huge, so much, that he needs a lot of money.”

Pineda says Obrador’s real challenge will be to keep his promises about reducing corruption. Obrador has promised to redirect money lost to corruption into programs for the poor.

“You’ve essentially then set yourself a very specific goal, and a very specific outcome,” Pineda says. “If that doesn’t get met, that’s going to be, I think, a bigger issue than a move to dismantle treaties or move to nationalize some of these big resource pools.”

Written by Shelly Brisbin.