The transformation of Mexico is “within sight,” President López Obrador declared on Sunday in an address in Mexico City’s central square to mark the first anniversary of his government.
In a 90-minute speech to an estimated 250,000 supporters in the zócalo, López Obrador listed his government’s achievements since he took office on December 1, 2018.
Among them: laws to combat corruption, the implementation of austerity measures, a change to the constitution to prevent tax avoidance by large corporations, cancelation of the previous government’s education reform, elimination of protection from prosecution for the president, creation of the National Guard, increased welfare for the nation’s most disadvantaged people, a 16% increase to the minimum wage, establishment of a northern border free zone and a 94% reduction in petroleum theft.
Accompanied on stage by his wife, Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, the president claimed that his government has fulfilled 89 of the 100 commitments he made in his inaugural speech as president one year ago.
However, “the main task of the government,” Lopez Obrador stressed, is to “eradicate political corruption.”
“We’re implementing order from the peak of power . . . We’re cleaning up the government from top to bottom, like stairs are cleaned,” he told loyal supporters who intermittently broke into chants such as “es un honor estar con obrador” (it’s an honor to be with Obrador) and “no estás solo (you’re not alone).
Stamping out corruption and implementing austerity measures has allowed the government to fund the budget without raising taxes, increasing the cost of fuel or putting the country into debt, the president said.
López Obrador conceded that the economy hasn’t grown as the government would have liked but claimed that there is now a “better distribution of wealth.”
He emphasized that inflation is at a three-year low, the value of the peso has increased 4% in comparison with the US dollar, the Mexican Stock Exchange is up 2%, foreign investment is strong, Mexico has become the United States’ largest trading partner and the government has struck an agreement with the private sector that will boost infrastructure spending.
The president expressed confidence that the new North American trade agreement will be approved by the United States and Canada “very soon.”
López Obrador highlighted that construction of the Santa Lucía airport and the modernization of the railway on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec have both begun.
“Corrupt conservatives” attempted to stop the former project through legal action but couldn’t, he said, because “reason and the law were enforced.”
López Obrador also said that construction of the new refinery on the Tabasco coast is underway as are projects to upgrade the six existing ones. In addition, the government has halted a 14-year decline in oil production, he said.
International tourism and spending by foreigners while in Mexico have both increased compared to last year, the president said before taking the opportunity to thank the navy for its efforts to clear sargassum from the country’s Caribbean coastline.
López Obrador said that half of all Mexican households and 95% of indigenous ones are benefiting from at least one government welfare program.
“Soon it will be 100% of indigenous households,” he said, adding his oft-repeated slogan: “For the good of all, the poor come first.”
López Obrador said that his government is preventing the over-exploitation of water and has outlawed the use of genetically-modified seeds and fracking.
In the second half of his speech, the president railed against producers of television series that portray the drug trafficking underworld as a “paradise” with “mansions, luxury cars, power, good-looking young men and women and designer clothes.”
There is also “another reality,” López Obrador said – people who consume drugs “can die within a year.”
“. . . That’s sadness, pain and suffering for young people, for their families. That’s not the way to achieve happiness . . . True happiness is being at ease with oneself, being at ease with our conscience, with each other . . .” he told attendees, among whom were also federal lawmakers, state governors and the event’s guest of honor, former president of Uruguay José Mujica.
“. . . If we reduce the consumption of drugs, we will be able to solve the serious problem of insecurity and violence; if not . . . it will be more complicated,” López Obrador declared.
As on many previous occasions, the president blamed the high levels of violence currently plaguing the country on the security strategies of his predecessors, especially Felipe Calderón, who launched the so-called war on drugs shortly after he took office in late 2006.
“The country is still suffering the consequences of that mistaken policy,” López Obrador said, asserting that his government will not repeat such an “absurd and unhinged strategy.”
The president said his government remained committed to addressing the main causes of violence – “unemployment, poverty, marginalization” – ensuring that no human rights violations are committed by the armed forces and finding the 43 teaching students who disappeared in Guerrero in 2014.
Reducing crime is the government’s “main challenge,” López Obrador said.
“But we are certain that we are going to pacify Mexico with the support of the people and the coordinated work of the entire government . . .” he added.
While the transformation of Mexico is “within sight” and a lot has been achieved in the government’s first year, the president said that the country is still in a “process of transition” and a lot more needs to be done.
“The old has not yet finished dying and the new is still being born . . .We’re not playing around, we’re not pretending, a new way of doing politics is underway, a regime change. It’s not more of the same, now we’re being guided by honesty, democracy and humanism,” López Obrador said.
“How much time will we need to consolidate the project of transformation? I think one more year . . .The foundations for the construction of a new country will be established . . . It will be practically impossible to return to the period of shame . . . the neoliberal period . . . I’m sure that when we complete two years of government the conservatives will no longer be able to reverse the changes . . .”
Mexico News Daily