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Opinion

Mexican President’s obstinate governance endangers millions

Now in the final third of his six-year term, Andrés Manuel López Obrador should be concerned if the legacy he desperately hopes to establish will come to fruition. 
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/brunird/" target="_self">Bruno Rodriguez Diaz</a>

Bruno Rodriguez Diaz

July 8, 2022
When Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected to the Mexican presidency in July 2018, my family and I, along with millions more, were optimistic about the change that would surely take Mexico by storm. It was not long before we found our hopeful optimism completely misplaced. 

López Obrador won a landslide victory with 53% of the vote —more than double the total of his closest rival and the first candidate to win an outright majority since 1988, CNN reports. According to The Guardian, a record 89 million people voted in a truly historic election — resulting in the first leftist president in seven decades while rejecting the two mainstream parties that had held a stranglehold on Mexican politics for years. 

Once elected, the populist president took a 60% pay cut, turned the presidential mansion into a public museum, rejected the use of bodyguards and opted to fly commercial economy rather than on the presidential plane, according to The Guardian.

López Obrador flies with only a few aids accompanying him, all of which are unarmed and untrained to act as security. On one particular trip in February 2019 to the dangerous state of Sinaloa, known for its rampant drug trafficking and violence, the president was swamped by supporters as he tried to navigate the airport without protection. 

Unsurprisingly, upon arriving, López Obrador was met by uncontrolled crowds of both passionate supporters and fiery protesters. He was quickly rescued by the Sinaloan governor’s security detail. 

Air stewardess Alejandra Martinez faced issues concerning López Obrador’s decisions.

“It’s awful that he’s come on my flight. People are ignoring the (safety) instructions, they’re leaving their seats even during turbulence…. I hope he never travels with my family,” she said

Despite the obvious security risks endangering López Obrador and his constituency during his travels, the president remains unconcerned.

“I have a lot of protection, this is a shield,” he told a reporter as he motioned toward one of his various protective amulets. 

From risky actions to mishandling the coronavirus, López Obrador has continuously endangered the Mexican populace. Throughout the earlier stages of the pandemic, Mexico continuously showed concerningly low levels of testing while underreporting and misdiagnosing cases, according to the New York Times. All the while, López Obrador continued to hug and kiss waves of supporters against the guidelines set by his own health cabinet, according to the El Universal.

When questioned by a reporter on his unsafe actions, the president unveiled his plan to combat the pandemic — his lucky amulets.

“The protective shield is the ‘Get thee behind me, Satan,’” López Obrador said of the charms. “Stop, enemy, for the Heart of Jesus is with me.” 

Unsurprisingly, López Obrador was diagnosed with the coronavirus, once in early 2021 and again in early 2022, according to NBC News. The president began to display symptoms a few hours after one of his commercial flights, meaning he likely exposed other passengers to the virus. 

As hospitals met maximum capacity, underserved medical clinics contributed to the high death rate in Mexico and the economy crumbled, López Obrador sat idly by. The president failed to implement any tangible policy measures that may have mitigated the wide-reaching effects of the pandemic.

As a result, when most countries are in recovery, Mexico continues to pay the price for López Obrador’s incompetency. Despite promising economic growth of 4% per year, the economy is only expected to yield 1.8%. Since the start of López Obrador’s term, Mexico has seen the worst economic downturn out of any OECD nation. 

Outside of symbolic gestures solely meant to present himself as a humble man of the people, the president has failed to deliver the kind of change he promised his voters. Progressive tax reform, bills to fight crime, substantial anti-corruption legislation or actions to reign in monopolies have all gone ignored. 

López Obrador has committed countless embarrassments on the world stage, including delaying his congratulatory call to then President-Elect Joe Biden out of unfounded doubt on election integrity.

Following his previous bids for the Mexican presidency in 2006 and 2012, López Obrador himself called it fraud; even declaring himself president, holding a false inauguration and appointing a shadow cabinet.

Recently, in a showy move that can only be described as foolish, the president announced he would not be attending president Biden’s Summit of the Americas because the authoritarian leaders of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba were not invited. 

Clearly, López Obrador has only succeeded in portraying himself as an inefficient demagogue more concerned with campaigning and sending messages than with meaningfully addressing the many needs of his vulnerable nation.

Now in the final third of his six-year term, the president should be concerned if the legacy he desperately hopes to establish will come to fruition. 

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