Mexico: how is AMLO's government going?

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The first three months of the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador are completed. How has the Mexican president performed?

Mexico: how is AMLO's government going?

Little more than a hundred days have passed since Andrés Manuel López Obrador assumed the presidency of Mexico. On March 11, AMLO has rendered accounts of his first three months in office. This report came with the most favorable public image of any Mexican president, over 70% approval according to the survey, but it has not done so without criticism. This is what has been achieved, what remains to be done and the failings of the government that is just beginning.

Leer en español: México: ¿cómo va el gobierno de AMLO?

What has been achieved?

The AMLO government has made significant progress on several fronts of public administration. According to the report presented recently, salaries of civil servants were reduced so that none can have one higher than the president's one. In addition to this, it has launched an austerity policy that has saved 200 billion Mexican pesos that can be invested in other government portfolios. Likewise, the peso has recovered against the dollar, the minimum wage has been increased by 16% and the collection exceeded by 8 billion Mexican pesos as expected. Even inflation decreased to 4.4%.

Although criticized at the time, the AMLO government managed to substantially reduce the theft of barrels of gasoline from the oil pipelines of the state oil company Pemex. The report illustrates that they went from 56,000 daily barrels stolen to 8,000. According to the BBC, Pemex's annual losses totaled USD $3 billion, mostly from gas theft. Although the measures taken to deal with the "huachicol" problem produced a shortage of fuel for three weeks, the situation has normalized.

Finally, the creation of a truth commission around the case of the 43 disappeared students of Ayotzinapa, which seeks to clarify the facts and find those responsible for the massacre of the victims, has also been applauded.

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What is there left to do?

The government has recognized that of the 100 goals established during AMLO's possession speech, 38 of them have yet to be fulfilled. Among the most ambitious plans is the construction of the Mayan Train, a tourist and cultural project that seeks to boost the economy of eastern Mexico. According to the government, the project can cost between USD $6,000 and 8,000 million and would move 3 million people annually. However, for the realization of such a project, a public-private partnership would be necessary, that provides the necessary resources for the construction of the train.
Also, the implementation of the National Guard is already in process. This proposal seeks to increase the military presence in the most violent areas of Mexico that, according to the newspaper El País from Spain, closed 2018 with the highest figures of violence since the Revolution. Although there was a concern about the extreme militarization that this body, comprised of members of the naval and military police, could entail, it will be headed by civilians from the Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection.

In addition to this, projects such as the Interurban Train Mexico - Toluca is waiting to be completed, since according to the newspaper El Milenio, it has cost 30 billion Mexican pesos more than expected and 30 billion more are missing. The report also stressed that 70 hospitals are unfinished.

What has generated controversy?

Among the most discussed decisions of the Mexican government is the cancellation of the New Mexico City International Airport (NACIM, for its acronym). The project, which cost USD $13 billion and was advanced by 20%, was canceled by AMLO through a popular consultation and, as a contingency plan, proposed the modernization of the current airports of the CDMX, Toluca and the military base of Santa Lucia.

Part of the controversy was caused by international investor confidence, since the cancellation of the project gave a negative message for those seeking to invest in the North American country. However, the government repurchased the project debt to avoid such a setback of investment opportunities.

Equally criticized were the cuts to social and cultural programs. On the one hand, up to 50% of the resources earmarked for public childcare centers were cut, which would mean that low-income families may not have access to spaces where they can leave their children unless they opt for a private, higher-cost option.

In this same line, the current government seeks to cut culture funds, although this proposal has not been fully implemented. The initiative follows the logic of austerity in the government, although in the development plan presented by AMLO the reduction is just 879 million Mexican pesos out of a total of 12,394 million.


LatinAmerican Post | Iván Parada Hernández

Translated from "México: ¿cómo va el gobierno de AMLO?

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