The Presidential Campaign of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) promised the Fourth Transformation of Mexico, declaring a determination to repudiate the status quo, end corruption and address inequality. While the first three transformations of Mexican society – Mexican Independence, the formation of the Republic, and the revolution – changed the political structure of the country, the Fourth Transformation is set to alter the social and economic structure.
Having begun his presidency with a strong mandate, control of Congress and sufficient state legislatures to push through constitutional reforms, the foundation was there to create the type of change which could buoy people out of poverty, address inequality, and create a safe and secure society.
Marking his first 100 days in office, AMLO insisted that this transformation was firmly underway.
“We have already begun to write the prologue of the great work of national transformation…We will continue to build, among everyone, the beautiful utopia. We are going to continue walking toward that great ideal of living in a new, free, fair, democratic and fraternal homeland.”
With approval ratings averaging between 70 and 80 percent, it is evident that the majority of Mexicans agree. However credit rating agencies have a different view.
Recently, credit rating agencies have issued warnings about Mexico’s sovereign debt and state-run oil company Pemex. While there has been an admission by the government that economic growth remains slow, AMLO is correct in highlighting that this was a legacy of the neo-liberal policies of the previous administration.
Changing Mexico, one policy at a time.
Delivering on his promises to prioritize the poor and marginalized, AMLO’s first 100 days was marked by swift action through social welfare and development programmes which included the increasing of pensions and other benefits for the elderly, expanding bursaries and scholarships for students from impoverished backgrounds; and promoting job creation initiatives for the youth as a mechanism to reduce youth unemployment which currently stands at between 7,5 and 8%, double the unemployment rate of the general population.
In a clear show of fiscal austerity, AMLO has stripped former presidents of their pensions, opted to fly on commercial airlines (rather than on the Presidential jet); sell the Presidential Jet; and opened Los Pinos – the Mexican version of the White House – to the public as a museum.
He has also reiterated his promise to cancel a sweeping education reform that was a signature effort of his predecessor, and to push major infrastructure and public works projects including a new oil refinery, roads, an airport expansion and a rail line that would stretch through several southern states, creating 300,000 jobs during this construction phase.
Probably his most popular decision has been to raise the Minimum wage nationwide by 16%, with pledges of further increases to keep up with inflation.
In addition, he received congressional approval to establish the National Guard, which would oversee the prevention and combating of crime throughout Mexico. The need for the National Guard was further emphasized when the National Public Security System (SNSP), stated that January 2019 was the most violent month on record with 2452 intentional homicide cases, amounting to a total of 2853 victims.
Despite his popularity among ordinary Mexicans, the punditocracy are not convinced. Diplomats, Politicians and Economists both inside and outside Mexico feel that the economy is AMLO’s Achilles heel, with projections that the same policies which brought him popularity will be his downfall when the economy takes a turn.
In an effort to deal decisively with corruption, AMLO has faced extensive backlash from business leaders when he decided to scrap the building of a new airport. His reasoning was that it was tainted by corruption. This has not helped his case with the punditocracy.
While AMLO’s popularity is high, the markets and credit-rating agencies are apprehensive. They have taken a watch-and-see position, as the president progresses beyond his first 100 days in office. There is an expectation that he will focus more heavily on economic reform – to fund his social welfare programmes and deliver on his promises