Mexican president touts good ties with US in first 100 days
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador celebrated what he called his administration’s “cordial” relations with the United States on Monday as he marked his first 100 days in office.
When Lopez Obrador took office Dec. 1, many feared the leftist was headed for a certain clash with conservative U.S. President Donald Trump.
But the two have maintained civil relations, without the frequent insults and name-calling Trump had once subjected Mexico to.
Mexico has quietly cooperated with the United States by allowing asylum applicants to be sent back to Mexico while they await resolution of their cases.
Lopez Obrador said that “accusatory and angry talk is no longer heard. Instead we use diplomacy and constant communication.” He noted the United States has committed to investing $2.5 billion in Central America and $4.8 billion in Mexico, to help create jobs.
The new president was largely self-congratulatory in his 100-days speech, even regarding the economy. Many view economic policy as his weak spot because he angered investors and businessmen by cancelling a partly built $13 billion airport project,
Nevertheless, Lopez Obrador said “There is confidence among foreign and Mexican investors.”
But his biggest focus was on what he called social justice, bringing more equality even to tourist zones.
“We are going to reduce the strong contrast between luxury hotel zones and impoverished neighborhoods,” Lopez Obrador said. “We want modernity, but forged from below, and for all.”
Perhaps one of Lopez Obrador’s biggest challenges is to staunch the huge expectations that won him election.
For example, the president was blindsided by a wave of strikes at assembly plants on the northern border, where employees demanded 20-percent wage increases and bonuses.
The president clearly wants that movement to slow down. Some plants threatened to leave the border city of Matamoros.
“The new labor policy, of restoring the lost purchasing power of wages, cannot yield spectacular results overnight,” he said. “It has to be applied slowly, but steadily.”
“It has to be a gradual increase, in order to not hurt businesses.”
A poll taken by the newspaper El Universal of 1,200 voters on March 2-7 showed that over 79 percent of those interviewed approved of Lopez Obrador’s performance as president. Eleven percent disapproved, and 8 percent didn’t approve or disapprove. The poll’s margin of error was 2.9 percentage points.
By comparison, Lopez Obrador’s predecessor, Enrique Pena Nieto, left office with a historically low approval rating, which in several polls ranged from 20 percent to 24 percent.
The new president has been able to implement major policy reforms, especially on security issues like fighting fuel theft from government pipelines and winning approval for the formation of a highly militarized National Guard to fight crime.
However, Lopez Obrador’s fight against the country’s homicide epidemic hasn’t gone so well.
In December and January, his first two months in office, homicides rose to 5,699, up 3.6 percent from the preceding two months and over 10 percent higher compared to the same two months one year ago.
“We have only been able to contain criminality, but not significantly reduce it as we had wished,” said Lopez Obrador.