By Andrés Manuel López Obrador
The new president also restated his promise to put Mexico’s poor first and tackle violence
Leftwing politician Andrés Manuel López Obrador has assumed Mexico’s presidency with a promise to profoundly transform Latin America’s second-biggest economy and to lead a government free of corruption.
Seemingly tireless at 65, López Obrador – known as Amlo – breezed through a day of public appearances on Saturday that included taking the oath of office, speaking to Congress and attending an inaugural celebration in the centre of Mexico City.
He received a spiritual cleansing by indigenous leaders as part of the festivities, in which traditional healers brushed him with bunches of herbs and blew incense smoke over him. They invoked the spirits of their ancestors and the land to liberate him from any bad influences.
“What we want, what we desire is to purify public life in Mexico,” Amlo said during the ceremony. “I repeat my commitment: I will not lie, I will not steal or betray the people of Mexico.”
He gave a 90-minute speech to the thousands of jubilant supporters jamming the Zócalo, the city’s main square, vowing to help the poor in a nation where almost half the population lives in poverty.
“We are going to govern for everyone, but we are going to give preference to the most impoverished and vulnerable,” Amlo said. “For the good of all, the poor come first.”
Speaking in a personal style honed over decades of small-town rallies, he told the crowd: “Be patient and have confidence in me.”
One of the most pressing issues Amlo faces at the start of his presidency is the caravan of thousands of Central American migrants camped out at the US border, hoping to obtain asylum.
In his first official act in office, he signed an agreement on Saturday with counterparts in three Central American countries to create a development plan for the region. The plan would include a fund to generate jobs as a way to lessen the poverty that drives people to leave El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
The president also pledged on Saturday to personally oversee daily 6 am security briefings and to work 16-hour days to confront the brutal violence in Mexico, and promised to restore the energy sector to prominence and bring up oil production from the country’s current 25-year lows.