OPINION

Mexicans Vote For The Left

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By: Qazi Naveed

The campaign of 2018 Presidential election was the bloodiest we have seen in decades. It is because one thirty individuals have been killed in recent times during the campaigns. At the same time, it had been the largest election in Mexico’s history, with about 3,400 posts up for grabs. This time around, voting had been done in over 3000 districts.

A grey-haired, baseball buff, Lopez Obrador won around 53% of the total vote. The Associated Press called it a ‘landslide win’. The press wanted sensationalism at his win, but mixed reactions have come.

Some regional analysts call him a ‘populist’ and ‘autocrat’ who doesn’t understand the complexity of Mexican politics, with its different economic and political approaches in the last thirty years. Others fear that he might eventually turn around as the next Hugo Chavez, a protectionist and a supporter of nationalisation. On the other hand, Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, calls Obrador’s win as a triumph of Leftism in Latin America and has encouraged renewed diplomatic relations with the country.

The regime change is mainly viewed by people as a reaction against the country’s infamous corruption crimes. He termed his party rivals, known as PRI and PAN, as running a ‘mafia of power.’

Obrador’s party supporters, the MORENA, are sure enough to believe that he will make Mexico an equitable society by investing in infrastructure and education. If the budget permits, the new government has plans to give $126 USD as monthly scholarships to university students and school children. Also, he has vowed not to raise any form of tax on the citizens and will continue reviewing oil deals.

In terms of social crime, last year alone, there were around 29,000 deaths in the country. The figures reflect how notorious Mexico has become for a high murder rate. As drug cartels offer a quick buck, many young people have been lured into cartel operations.

The wrath of corruption still looms over many institutions. To access public services, around 51% of people have to pay a bribe. In a place called Veracruz, the governor had been charged of making fake medicines.

Nicknamed as ‘Amlo’, he unsuccessfully contested two times before. But he capitalised on his agenda third time around. Some call him ‘Mexico’s Trump’, while others likened him to British Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

However, his views on tackling the cartel war are controversial. He wants to give amnesty to the proponents of the drug war. He claims to even extend his amnesty to the kingpins, as reported by the BBC. That seems to be his solution. There are three cartel groups intending to control supply routes between the United States and the South America namely Gulf Cartel, Los Zetas Cartel and Sinaloa Cartel. While as Sinaloa Cartel is known for its high-level connections and control of regions in Mexico that produce marijuana and opium, the other two Cartels are known for their brutality, past alliances and eventual hostilities.

The turf war, since 2006, has killed around fifty thousand people. According to FBI data, the drug trade is estimated at around $29 billion a year. The killings include torture, beheadings and mutilation.

While Obrador seeks to establish friendlier relations with US President Donald Trump, who congratulated him through Twitter, he, at the same time, calls Trump’s strategy of separating migrant families at the border as ‘racist and inhuman.’

It may seem hypocritical because the President-elect, himself, wishes to start his own border force to stop undocumented migrants coming from Central America coming into the country, who mostly en route to the US. The new force will try to ease the social crime. Mexican south still is a porous border vulnerable for refugees. But it seems, everybody has a positive opinion about trade between Mexico and US.

The trade between Mexico and the US totalled around $557 billion in 2017, the highest in years. Mexico sends around 80% of exports to the US. Therefore, redrafting the NAFTA agreement will be vital for Obrador. With the economists and policymakers, he needs to analyse the fault lines with the US trade.

At the same time, Obrador also has a chance to make Mexican companies more competitive globally by doing business with emerging Asian markets. It speaks of the significance of the region – around 80% of trade in South America is duty-free. These nations have signed around thirty-three agreements with each other.

Mexicans want him to be similar to the outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto, in terms of regional diplomatic initiatives. His successor, irrespective of his political reputation, started Lima group, an initiative for democratic reforms in Venezuela. The other diplomatic effort has been the Pacific Alliance, which allows free trade between Colombia, Peru, Mexico and Chile.

Ever since the 2010 Haiti earthquake, many Haitian refugees in Tijuana are living in shantytowns made up of camps. As per ABC news, there are around 3,000 of them in Tijuana alone. For months, people have been sleeping on the floor of a church. It reflects the dismay and uncertainty of many people.

According to Al Jazeera, “Nearly half of the electorate is under 40 years old. Pollsters say the youth has little faith in the government and believe it is riddled with corruption, but their vote is pivotal. They’re overwhelmingly urban, online and more educated than their parents.”

Naveed Qazi is the author of ‘The Trader of War Stories’ (2018) and ‘Musings on Global Politics’ (2018). For feedback, write to [email protected]

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