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Lopez Obrador Sworn In as Mexico’s New President 


Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador thanks supporters for his victory in the July 1 election, in Mexico City, Sept. 29, 2018. Lopez Obrador takes the oath of office Saturday.
Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador thanks supporters for his victory in the July 1 election, in Mexico City, Sept. 29, 2018. Lopez Obrador takes the oath of office Saturday.

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was sworn in Saturday as Mexico’s new president.

In his inaugural address, the president promised a “peaceful and orderly transition, but one that is deep and radical ... because we will end the corruption and impunity that prevent Mexico’s rebirth.”

He also sought to reassure businesses that despite the slump in the Mexican market following his election in July, Mexico remains a good place for investments.

“I promise, and I’m a man of my word, that the investments of foreign and international investors will be safe, and we will even create conditions that will allow them to get good returns,” he said, “because in Mexico there will be honesty, rule of law, clear rules, economic growth and confidence.”

The president enters office in a powerful position with a coalition that controls both houses of Congress. He has promised a more austere administration than that of his predecessor, Enrique Pena Nieto.

Pena Nieto, who was present for the swearing-in, was booed by the crowd and some lawmakers shouted “dictator” at him. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Ivanka Trump were also in attendance.

Los Pinos open to public

After his swearing-in ceremony, Lopez Obrador threw open the doors of Mexico City’s secretive, sprawling presidential residence known as Los Pinos. The residence has been closed to the public since it was first built in the 1930s.

Successive presidents have built homes within the compound.

Unmistakable signs of luxury were on full display, including marble, room-size closets, wood-paneled libraries and a small movie theater.

“Nobody knew our presidents lived this way. It is like taking a mask off,” said Homero Fernandes, who oversees the compound for the new government.

The newly installed president said the compound will now be used as a cultural center.

Guadalajara consulate attack

Hours before Lopez Obrador was sworn in as president, the U.S. consulate in Guadalajara came under an explosives attack. U.S. officials in Mexico say no one was killed or injured in the assault.

Jalisco state prosecutors say federal authorities are conducting an investigation into the attack. Jalisco is the home to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, considered to be one of one of the country’s most powerful gangs.

Mainstay of Mexican politics

At 65, Lopez Obrador has been a mainstay of Mexican politics. As a young man, he was a member of the center-right Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which controlled Mexico’s government for eight decades.

Yet in the 1980s, as cracks were beginning to show in PRI’s coalition, Lopez Obrador was one of the many leftist politicians to split from the PRI, joining the Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD.

In 2000, Lopez Obrador — still a member of PRD — was elected mayor of Mexico City, the nation’s capital and most populous city. In this position, he gained national prominence, instituting social programs for the poor and elderly and improving the city’s infrastructure.

After his mayoral term ended in 2005, Lopez Obrador sought higher office, making his first presidential bid the following year. For much of the race, he was considered the front-runner. Yet, Felipe Calderon of the right-leaning National Action Party, or PAN, narrowly defeated him, labeling the former mayor a socialist in the mold of then-Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The label stuck.

In 2012, Lopez Obrador ran for president a second time, but lost to Pena Nieto, of PRI. Pena Nieto proved unpopular; during his time in office, Mexico’s murder rate swelled to an all-time high, the peso lost value, and Donald Trump was elected U.S. president.

Trump has repeatedly used anti-Mexican rhetoric and pledged to build a wall between the two nations.

Mexico’s constitution only permits presidents to serve one term; as such, Pena Nieto could not run in this year’s election. Thus Lopez Obrador, running on the newly founded National Regeneration Movement, (MORENA), was able to capitalize on discontent with the country’s status quo and finally claim the presidency.

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