Mr. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also known as AMLO was elected the President of Mexico on Sunday. His landslide victory has filled millions of Mexicans with a lot of hope as they look up to him to reshape and transform the country. They look up to him to improve the country on behalf of the marginalized and the poor.
Mexico, being the second-biggest economy in Latin America, has over the past years been hit with corruption scandals, persistent poverty, and judicial investigations. Corruption was a basis of the one-party authoritarian system which governed the country for most quarters of the 20thcentury. Democracy came about in the last quarter of the 20thcentury.
Corruption has been an issue in this country since nearly 10 former Mexican presidents have been placed under investigations on claims of graft while others have been forced out of office. Corrupt practices also lower the economy of the region as it reduces Mexico’s gross domestic product by two percentage points per year. Additionally, it contributes and fuels violence among the Mexicans.
Lopez Obrador’s political career began in the 1970s in the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party). He then abandoned the party and joined other political dissidents in forming PRD (Party of Democratic Revolution). During his campaign, Mr. Lopez gave promises to end corruption, address poverty, and reduce violence. This made him popular with a large mass of voters who were tired of these practices.
Some citizens even took to the streets to express their frustrations and make it clear that they will not tolerate it anymore. The same sentiments can also been seen in Brazil where a far-right former military officer Jair Bolsonaro will be sworn in as the president in Jan 1st.
According to the president of the Mexican Council on Foreign Affairs, Luis Rubio, the Odebretcht case has done more for Latin America in terms of democracy than 30 years of reforms. Mexico is one of the countries where no one has been charged in this case.
Institutions such as the Judiciary have played a great role in bringing corruption to light. Also, civic groups and opposition political leaders have not been left behind as they have constantly called for investigations and new laws. An example is the Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity group which is headed by Maria Amparo Casar. In 1996, Casar said that there were 502 stories on corruption in broadcast media and Mexican Newspaper; now, the number has raised to 38, 917 stories.
Social media is another platform that has helped expose corruption and government wrongdoing in Mexico. In 2015, a photo of the director of Mexico’s National Water Commission and his family using a government helicopter to go for vacation was posted by a Facebook user. This created a huge scandal and the director David Korenfeld had to apologize and said that he would pay for the flight.
The anti-corruption campaigns of AMLO convinced most citizens that corruption would be a thing of the past. In a statement, AMLO vowed to go after anyone involved in corruption. Although he has been painted as a dangerous populist before, many citizens believe that leftist AMLO is riding waves of anti-corruption furor that will change Latin America.