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López Obrador: President Of Mexico At Last?

Mexico's presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the MORENA party delivers his speech during a campaign rally in Veracruz, Mexico, Saturday, June 23, 2018.
Associated Press
Mexico's presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the MORENA party delivers his speech during a campaign rally in Veracruz, Mexico, Saturday, June 23, 2018.
López Obrador: President Of Mexico At Last?
López Obrador: President of Mexico At Last? GUEST: Anthony Wayne, former Ambassador to Mexico

>>> Much of the news in recent days has focused on the U.S./Mexico border. Across the border, there is another big story taking shape. Mexicans go to the polls on Sunday to choose a new president and new members of Mexican legislature. Former Mexican city mayor Manwell -- is leading the polls by as much as 25 percentage points. He is popular with the anticorruption, antiviolence message. He has stayed largely silent about the recent tensions between Mexico and the U.S. Joining me as ambassador Anthony Wayne who served as the U.S. ambassador to Mexico from 2011 to 2015. He is also a former U.S. ambassador to Argentina and assistant Secretary of State for economics and business affairs. Ambassador Wayne most peak about the Mexican election tonight at UC San Diego. Welcome to the program. This is not the first time that Lopez has run for president for Mexico. It is the first time he has been ahead in the polls. How has he done it ? >> You are right. He ran twice before and lost both times. Once he thought he won and camped out on the main street of Mexico City for a number of weeks to protest his loss. This time, he is writing a wave of rejection by the people of Mexico against the two main political parties. It's resentment that the government has not been able to get a handle on violence in the streets and also corruption sweeping through various public services national and state level. And finally that economic growth has not been strong enough to pull people out of poverty. All those things have people saying enough we want a change. It is throw the bums out kind of attitude Mexico style. >>> Beyond the throw the bums out message, is open the door and giving specifics on how he might get rid of corruption or stem the violence in Mexico ? >> That is some of the things that bother some of the people now that they think he might win. He has had generalities as to how he will do it but not a lot of specifics. And corruption he says he is an honest person which by all accounts he is. And by my model and the model I said, we will take on corruption and get rid of it. He has yet no specifics as to how that will be done. He has not proposed strengthening institutions are building capacity specifically to prosecute corrupt people. There are questions about exactly what he is going to do. >>> You say in Mexico along the voting population, there is exasperation between the two main parties the pre-and the pond. How is Lopez different from those two main parties? >> This is one of the main revolutionary changes in the party system in Mexico. They are actually going through a whole shift in party structure. He has created over the past four years a new movement called Marina that is built around him. But he has brought all sorts of people in from across the political spectrum. It is sort of a little left and center. It is not just based on poor Mexicans which was his traditional support base. He has now majority support in middle-class Mexicans, university educated Mexicans, all of them are looking for a change. He has promised that. So this new movement Marina has really shaken both political parties. We do not know exactly what it will turn out to be once it gets into power if the polls are correct. >>> Even though opinion polls show that President Donald Trump is a very unpopular among Mexicans, Lopez is not letting that card in this election. Why do you think that is ? >> In part because all of the candidates have been critical of the U.S. approach. As you say, the general opinion of Mexico is very critical of the United States and U.S. policies in particular. You do not need to play that everyone is echoing each other. He has gone out of his way to take a moderate public stance on the United States. I think he wants to maintain the space to see if he can establish a better relationship and try to solve some of the big problems out there that include the NAFTA negotiations, renegotiating that. And dealing with the migration problems, especially from Central America. This affects Mexico as well as the United States. >>> If Lopez wins the Sundays election and becomes president of Mexico, what do you think will change for the Mexican people? >> If he wins the Sunday he does not get sworn in until December. There is a long transition. And then he needs to implement the broad promises he has made about new social policies that will help the poor, help farmers, others, he has to get into office with his new team and they have to know how to govern. Many of the people he has talked about naming have not served in federal government for a long time. There will be a Transitioning period. If there is change, the reality will come gradually. Some of the international immediate impacts will be in the markets. How will the markets react to this. He has been sending advisors out to talk to investors. Sending them to the United States to say don't worry we need your investment and we want your investment and we understand how important that is. We will see. We will see what he says during this transition. We will see what his team is he pulls together and can they inspire confidence. There will be a great deal of hope among Mexicans because they are really just in a state of mind of being insecure about going out into the streets, worrying about their future, worried about how much money has been stolen by corrupt officials. They are looking for a big change. Expectations will be high during the first year. >>> I have been speaking with former U.S. ambassador to Mexico Anthony Wayne. Ambassador Wayne will be speaking about the Mexico election and its importance to San Diego tonight at the Institute of the Americas at UC San Diego starting at 6:30 PM. Thank you for your time today. >> It has been a great pleasure to be here with you, thank you.

Andrés Manuel López Obrador has come a long way since the last time he ran for president of Mexico. Just a few years ago he was lucky anyone came to his events at all.

Things change.

The Mexican election is July 1 and López Obrador, who is also known by his initials AMLO, is polling ahead of his closest rival by as much as 25 points. He has been campaigning against the Mexican establishment, and his populist message is resonating with voters who are fed up with rising violence and corruption and who believe the ruling class cares only about itself.

If he is elected, will his presidency mean improved lives for Mexicans? And what will it mean for already strained relations with the United States?