Meet AMLO, Mexico’s new leftist president ready to take on Trump

Like Trump, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is a populist, but they disagree on pretty much everything.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador sailed to victory this weekend in Mexico, pulling more than 40 percent of the vote and promising a new era in Mexican politics.

Lopez Obrador, who also goes by the initials AMLO, ran as a candidate in a new Mexican political party he founded in 2014, the National Regeneration Movement party. His victory marks the first leftist presidential win in three decades and the first time in over a century that his opponents’ parties won’t be leading the country, the Washington Post reported.

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The National Regeneration Movement party did well across the board, and this election made 2018 the first time in 21 years that the same party will control both legislative chambers and the executive office. Mexico also made history by voting in its first-ever Jewish, female mayor of Mexico City, which is home to more than 21 million people. Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo ran on the slogan, “Together we shall tell history.”

AMLO, a 64-year-old former Mexico City mayor, ran on promises of getting rid of political corruption, investing in the poor, and fighting inequality.

A man of the people

AMLO promised to bring back humility to Mexican politics, saying he plans to serve “human beings of all manner of thought and sexual preferences.”

“We will respect everyone,” he told the press at a hotel in Mexico, according to the Washington Post. “But we will give preference to the most humble and forgotten.”

AMLO has promised to tackle corruption and crime and focus on poor Mexicans to rejuvenate the economy. He said he plans to get rid of a lot of the expensive perks of the Mexican presidency, like a nice car, a big house, and a presidential plane. He even waited for an hour outside a polling station to cast his own vote, according to Sky News.

He is known as the anti-establishment candidate, similar to that of Trump’s 2016 presidential election. But that’s about the only thing the two North American presidents agree on.

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Mexico’s response to Trump’s policies

Trump congratulated AMLO on his Sunday win on Twitter, writing, ‘Congratulations to Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on becoming the next President of Mexico. I look very much forward to working with him. There is much to be done that will benefit both the United States and Mexico!’

Despite the appearance of civility, all candidates in the Mexican election were anti-Trump — they didn’t like his immigration policy, his trade policy, or, especially, his anti-Mexican rhetoric.

AMLO’s mere candidacy has been hailed as “Mexico’s response” to Trump’s policy. During the election, AMLO said Trump used his presidency to “campaign as propaganda against Mexico.”

“He is using all this campaign against Mexico as propaganda, only this way I explain that he is trying to send military force to the border,” he said during a campaign speech in Nuevo Laredo, adding that there isn't a "great threat" on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The new president of Mexico hasn’t been shy about slamming Trump’s immigration policies either. In response to a tweet Trump sent out, threatening to militarize the border, AMLO responded by saying he wouldn’t stand for it.

“If Mr. Donald Trump, I say it with all due respect, does that and militarizes the border, we, in the three thousand 185 kilometers of border that we have in the United States, we are going to make a manifestation and a human chain all dressed in white asking peace and progress.”

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AMLO has called the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy “oppressive, racist, and inhumane” and said he would stand up to the U.S. president.

Mexico has a history of separating asylum-seeking families from crossing through its borders on the U.S.’s behalf, but AMLO has vowed to put an end to that as well. He said in a campaign rally, “We’re not going to do the dirty work of any foreign government.”

A promise to end to organized drug crime

Mexico has been fighting organized drug crime since former President Felipe Calderón declared war against drug cartels in 2006 — and they aren’t winning. Last year, there were more than 29,000 homicides, many as a result of organized drug crime, marking the highest number of homicides in the country since 1997.

AMLO’s response to the epidemic is to offer amnesty to those involved in the drug trade, an attempt to end a bloody decade. There’s no way to know if amnesty will help solve Mexico’s organized drug crime problem, but offering amnesty is knew, and AMLO says, could at least decrease corruption in politics.

Cover image: Newly elected Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador cheers his supporters at the Zocalo Square after winning general elections, in Mexico City, on July 1, 2018. (Photo: PEDRO PARDO/AFP/Getty Images)