CITY OF MEXICO – The newly elected Mexican President began his first presidential Monday with something new in recent history: a press conference and the commitment to hold a day of his six-year term every working day for inform citizens.
Two days after being sworn in as the first leftist president for decades of technocrats, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has kept his promise to rule like an ordinary man and put an end to decades of secrecy, heavy security and luxury of which enjoyed the former presidents. His day began at 7 am with more than 100 journalists, photographers and television cameramen trained on the new leader. His gray hair was slightly bristly when he answered questions.
"Is not it a change that I'm here to inform you?" Lopez Obrador asked. Although former presidents have rarely held press conferences, Lopez Obrador has promised to do it almost daily, just as he did when he was mayor of Mexico City from 2000-2005.
"He did not take the lead, he hit the ground," said Federico Estevez, professor of political science at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico, impressed by the president's ability to improvise and talk for hours without using a prompter.
Estevez likened the beginning of Lopez Obrador to the early days of US President Franklin Roosevelt, minus the fireside talks. "It's very similar. And (Lopez Obrador) will make his party a generational force and the opposition will remain a minority because God knows how long. "
On Monday, Lopez Obrador attacked a case that darkened the previous government, signing a presidential decree creating a truth commission to investigate the disappearance of 43 students in 2014 in an apparent massacre. He then posed with the parents of missing youth, who posted pictures of their loved ones.
Prosecutors said that students from a South Guerrero state teacher college had been killed by a drug gang and that their bodies had been cremated in a large-scale fire. But no conclusive evidence was ever found or presented, which led students' parents on a frustrating and painful four-year search for the truth.
"We hope that it will be more humane," said Maria Martinez, the mother of one of the missing students. Referring to Lopez Obrador's two previous failed presidential offers, she told him: "You are showing us the example that whoever perseveres will triumph over time. You are a good example, you have to keep fighting.
Earlier, the new president arrived at the National Palace of Mexico City in the same compact Volkswagen Jetta white car that he used before taking office Saturday. He refused the military bodyguards used by the former presidents and traveled with a small team of collaborators to ensure security. He usually travels in economy class.
"I feel safe, protected and supported by the Mexican people," said Lopez Obrador.
At age 65, he is the oldest president of the last half century – six of his eight predecessors were 40 years old when they took office – and he has shown impressive stamina.
After a long inaugural address on Saturday, he spoke for more than an hour and a half in the main square of Mexico City and presented government programs in detail: how road concrete would be blended to optimize the use of local labor and tree species would be best for agriculture and reforestation programs.
"The only doubt at this stage is how many cabinet secretaries and assistants will be able to keep pace with the president," wrote the columnist for the Salvador Garcia Soto newspaper.
Lopez Obrador took his first flight as president on Sunday aboard a commercial airliner with the rest of the passengers to get to Veracruz, a state on the Gulf Coast of Mexico. He promised to sell the presidential jet as a measure of austerity, and the plane took off Monday to visit a California air service facility, presumably.
At Monday's press conference, Lopez Obrador said the number of murders had dropped during his first two days in office.
In the first ten months of 2018, the number of homicides in Mexico was above 80 per day on average. Lopez Obrador said the average of this weekend was about 50, although he noted that the numbers were preliminary. He did not explain why the homicides would have fallen.
Late in the day, officials from the state of Jalisco, in the western part of the country, announced that a gang of gunmen had killed six police officers Monday during a police raid. apparently aimed at releasing a prisoner. Jalisco's Attorney General, Marisela Gomez Cobos, said one of the attackers was wounded and placed in police custody, but that the others escaped with three vehicles.
Lopez Obrador also said that the necessary work would continue to complete the foundations of a partially built airport project in Mexico City, which he plans to cancel in favor of the expansion of the existing airports. Officials did not say what would be done with the huge airport foundations built on an old lake bed called Texcoco. However, additional work is required to prevent slabs from decomposing or sinking.
Lopez Obrador promised to protect investors who bought bonds to finance construction, but the airport fund issued Monday a bid to repay $ 1.8 billion of outstanding bonds at a price as low as 90 cents the dollar, suggesting Some bondholders may get haircuts, but the price has yet to be determined.
Financial markets have remained on the fence, some questioning Lopez Obrador's ability to keep his promises of balancing budgets while increasing scholarships, retirements and other benefits.
"The messages so far have not eliminated the uncertainty about what might happen under Lopez Obrador's administration, but they have not made it worse," Mexico-based CIBanco said in a statement. .
"The new government has generated both hope and uncertainty," wrote Alfredo Coutino, director of Moody's Analytics for Latin America. "While the political climate and the economy are relatively stable, the new administration is facing significant challenges that will require experience and the ability to ensure a smooth and smooth political transition. a solid economic performance. Markets remain on hold.
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