Mexico: this is how López Obrador's first year ends

On December 1st, the first year of the mandate of the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, was celebrated, this being a six-year term that has aroused love and hate.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, president of Mexico.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, president of Mexico. / Photo: AP

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

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Leer en español: Thus ends López Obrador's first year in Mexico

From the results of the elections that threw him as a winner, it was hoped that his mandate would not be easy and would bring distrust both politically and economically. This, as AMLO became the first president of the left in the history of Mexico, in addition to coming from a long wave of six-year-old center-right as was Enrique Peña Nieto, and the past of Felipe Calderón and Vicente Fox, whose Parties (PRI and PAN) are still two of the main ones in the country.

The flag that came to AMLO's presidency was one against corruption, as the previous government had caused distrust of multiple corruption issues. Faced with this, AMLO promised to make a difference and for this, he made some decisions considered by some as populists, such as getting rid of the presidential aircraft fleets to travel on commercial flights.

In any case, the fight against corruption catapulted him into the presidency in 2018. However, once he arrived, AMLO has had to face much more than that because, as is well known, issues such as drug trafficking and migration make an essential part of the development of a central country in the continent such as Mexico.

These are some of the battles that the Mexican president has had to face in his first year of government and how he has solved them.

1. Drug trafficking and violence

Drug trafficking is not a new problem in Mexico since decades ago it has become the bridge of drug trafficking from Central and South America to the United States, also becoming one of the main coca producers in the region.

For this reason, the governments of the United States and Mexico have been somewhat co-dependent because they have had to fight this battle together. The arrival of AMLO coincided with the presidency of Donald Trump, where the demands to meet goals in favor of the fight against drug trafficking became more stringent, forcing the Mexican government to act more effectively.

Drug trafficking and violence have exacerbated in recent months in the country, as posters such as Sinaloa have acquired a power that has proven to be out of the hands of the government.

Read also: From the US to Mexico: the arms trafficking route

As for this, the example of the failed attempt to capture the son of 'Chapo' Guzmán, Ovidio Guzmán and current boss of said cartel. In the operation that should have resulted in the great drug lord in Mexico being in prison, he ended up in a fight between the Public Force and members of the cartel, leading the city to chaos and forcing the government to release Guzman. This event left the eyes of public opinion on top of AMLO, which was criticized for the outcome of the operation, criticizing him that he should have continued with it instead of releasing Ovid Guzman.

The president, however, has demonstrated his main position in this war against drug trafficking, which gives a 180º turn to which he had been seeing since the presidency of Felipe Calderón. AMLO has assured that its fight against cartels and drug trafficking will not claim innocent lives, which would respond to the decision to end the Sinaloa operation. This caused discontent in many sectors of the population and also in the Trump administration, who has sometimes been dissatisfied with the lack of action on this issue.

During this year, an important component has also emerged in the face of this war against drug trafficking that changes to some extent the dynamics of the United States-Mexico relationship. Most of the weapons found in Mexico for criminal purposes, especially the Sinaloa Cartel weapons, come from the United States. Thus, codependency has increased between these two countries and Mexico has criticized libertarian policies for access to weapons in the North American country, as this has led to the strengthening of criminal gangs in Mexico.

2. Economy

The growth of the economy of the country has not been an easy task for AMLO. First, its leftist trend has presented a value of distrust when it comes to private investment. In addition, according to the BBC, the government's austerity policy has ended up affecting the country's economy, as it "canceled contracts for services and public works, such as the New Mexico International Airport (NAIM). " This reduction in public spending has been one of the biggest factors for reducing private investment, which leads to this perception of distrust.

But, on the other hand, the international commercial sphere has not favored it either. It has been affected by the trade war between China and the United States, but it has also had its own conflicts with the Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Canada. Although it is considered (not only by its followers but also its detractors) that one of its greatest achievements was to promote the T-MEC (Liber Commerce Treaty Mexico, United States, and Canada), it has not yet entered into force as the ratification of the other two countries. However, this is a latent achievement that would strengthen commercial ties to favor the economy, contributing to GDP growth.

Also read: Why do Chileans continue to protest?

3. Migration

This is another issue in which Mexico has a close relationship and codependence with the United States. Trump has been known for having a strict and open anti-immigration position that directly affects Mexico, whose borders are the main stage for the entry of illegal migrants to the United States.

Just AMLO came to the presidency, a mass exodus was occurring from countries in Central America, especially Honduras. Thousands of people crossed Mexico walking and heading towards the northern border to enter the United States. Trump was concise in stating that these migrants could not go to the United States, which meant that Mexico would have to take the lead in the problem to present solutions.

This was just the beginning of a migration crisis that faces AMLO from day one and that has put it between a rock and a hard place. The United States has made strong decisions that impact Mexico's economy and have forced the president to act effectively. First, Trump said he would impose tariffs on Mexican imports as long as the migrants did not slow down. The Mexican government acted and got the United States to see the effort, which led to it not imposing tariffs. According to the BBC, "for September, when the term negotiated with Trump was fulfilled, the figure decreased to 63,755 irregular migrants," compared to the May record, 144,278 people.

Other decisions about this issue were the commitment of the Mexican president to create more than 20,000 jobs in Honduras, encouraging Hondurans to stay in their country and their economy to grow, so that there is no need for migration. On the other hand, when Trump threatened with tariffs, he also proposed that Mexico become the 'Third Safe Country', which meant that Mexico received as refugees some of the migrants seeking refuge in the United States and who came from other countries of Central America, thus the burden of refugees would be divided. AMLO rejected this and focused on decreasing the migratory flow at the border.

Also read: Mexico: what is going on with the Paris Agreement?

4. Environment

In the midst of the Paris Agreement, which Mexico has already ratified, the commitments revolve around the reduction of the average global temperature to curb global warming. For this, Mexico undertook, among other things, to reduce by 2030, 40% carbon intensity per unit of GDP, as well as to use renewable energy by 43%.

On paper, Mexico's proposals are ambitious and committed to the fight against global warming. For this reason, it is controversial that the largest government project is the creation of the Dos Bocas refinery. As mentioned earlier in LatinAmerican Post, “while AMLO has called it a“ transformation ”of Pemex and Mexico, organizations such as the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CMDA) have ensured that the pollution produced by the project is such that they could overcome the emissions stipulated in the Paris Agreement.

In addition to this, one of the main engines of the country is still Pemex, which is the most polluting company in Latin America and provides 1.67% of greenhouse gas emissions in the world.