Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador became Mexico's president today in a shift to the left for Latin America's second-largest economy, pledging to end corruption, restore security and rescue the energy sector from what he called a failed reform.
the corruption and impunity that have impeded Mexico's rebirth ends," said Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, during his inaugural speech in the legislative palace in Mexico City today. "Today we start the fourth transformation — a profound and radical change in the political regime."
Dispensing with the usual trappings of the presidency, AMLO arrived at the inauguration in a Volkswagen Jetta driven by a long-term aide, having greeted supporters along the route from his home in the southern part of the city.
In a speech that contained no surprises, AMLO reiterated many of his campaign promises to end corruption — the "principal cause of violence, inequality and insecurity" — bring an end to "the neoliberal economic policy that has been a disaster for Mexico," apply austerity so as not to add to the soaring national debt and create a new national guard comprised of ground and naval forces that would restore security by replacing "the corrupt and inefficient police force."
AMLO singled out the energy sector early in his speech, attacking the 2014 energy reform that dismantled state-owned Pemex's monopoly. "They told us it was going to save us but it has only meant the fall in oil production and the excessive increase in gasoline, diesel, gas and electricity prices," he said.
Repeating a favorite criticism of the reform, AMLO said that just $760mn of foreign investment has so far been committed to oil and gas production, "representing just 1.9pc of the early public investment by Pemex during the same period and just 0.7pc of the promised investment."
Despite his criticism of the reform, AMLO confirmed that his government would "respect the [energy] contracts already signed and ensure that investments will be secure."
AMLO confirmed that his government would increase public investment "to rescue the oil and electricity industries," and, in the only specific projects mentioned, he pledged to build a refinery in Dos Bocas, Tabasco and invest in the maintenance of the six existing refineries.
"The damage caused to our energy sector is so severe that, not only are we an oil producing country that imports the most gasoline in the world, but we now also have to buy crude to supply the six refineries that are barely surviving," he said.
Improvements to the refinery system will, AMLO said, allow Mexico to end gasoline imports and result in lower gasoline prices.
"I am conscious of the great expectations that Mexicans have for me … but I am optimistic that we can confront the great challenges ahead … because I believe in the people," concluded AMLO. "I do not have the right to fail you."
Political leaders from around the world attended the inauguration, including US Vice President Mike Pence and US President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump, in what AMLO called a "sign of friendship between the two countries."
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro was received by legislators with shouts of "dictator."