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Mexico May Turn To A Populist To Fix Crime And Corruption Problems

Mexican populist Andrés Manuel López Obrador is the heavy favorite to win the country's upcoming presidential election.
Posted at 5:51 PM, Jun 26, 2018

Mexican politician Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO for short, has been trying to get elected president for over a decade. Now, Mexican voters are set to put him in office — and shake up the status quo for both Mexico and the U.S. in the process.

López Obrador is a left-wing populist who's consistently railed against corruption and Mexico's political elite. He ran and lost in two previous presidential campaigns in 2006 and 2012.

But this time, neither of Mexico's two major parties has been able to put up a convincing challenger to keep AMLO from the presidency. One week before the July 1 vote, López Obrador was leading his nearest rival by nearly 20 points in the polls.

It's easy to see why López Obrador's campaign is resonating with Mexican voters: Violent crime is at record heights, and government corruption seems widespread.

The two problems often intertwine as well. Days before the election, the entire police force of the Mexican town of Ocampo was arrested after being accused of complicity in the murder of a mayoral candidate.

Successive governments led by both main parties have failed to stem the tide of violence and corruption. That's left room for an outsider like López Obrador to rise to power.

But López Obrador has also promised to roll back some of his predecessor's economic reforms, like the opening up of Mexico's valuable oil industry. That's made investors and businesses in Mexico deeply skittish about an AMLO presidency.

And while the U.S.-Mexico migration is a huge deal in U.S. politics, border issues have been largely absent from Mexico's presidential race. The race is focused instead on domestic issues that have a more direct impact on Mexican voters.

Still, AMLO has dropped a few hints about how he'd get along with U.S. President Trump; his economic adviser hinted they'd rather leave the ongoing NAFTA renegotiations than accept a deal that was bad for Mexico.

And on immigration, López Obrador says he wants to work with Trump to develop Mexico's economy, making cross-border migration less attractive. Trump's probably not going to go along with that; he's been deeply skeptical of U.S. investment in other countries in the past.

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.