Mexico's 'AMLO' Still Popular After 100 Days in Office

In his July election, Lopez Obrador triumphed with 53 percent of the vote. Now, the president has the support of almost four out of five Mexicans, according to one recent opinion poll.

After 100 days in office, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has maintained the massive popularity he had when elected.

RELATED: AMLO: 'Mexico Punished For Failed Neoliberalism, Corruption'

"We are going to fulfill all of our promises," Lopez Obrador told a crowd in the Central Mexican city of Puebla on Sunday.

Relentlessly hammering home his commitment to end Mexico's chronic inequality, he has often used his media appearances to denounce previous neo-liberal administrations he accuses of ruining Mexico, such as that of his predecessor Enrique Pena Nieto.

"The truth is I've liked the change that there has been with him lately a lot. For example, the other presidents, from what I've seen, spent a lot of money on their travels, and with him it's very different. And how he lives together with society more, with the people, that's what I like about him," 25 year-old construction worker Freddy said about Lopez Obrador on Sunday.

Widely known as "AMLO," the anti-establishment leftist swept into office on December 1 with a powerful mandate, having dethroned the two parties that ruled Mexico for nine decades — and winning 53 percent of the vote and strong majorities in both houses of Congress along the way.

Since then, the anti-corruption crusader has overhauled the Mexican presidency — giving up the presidential mansion, jet, bodyguards and 60 percent of the salary — all while lunging frantically from one sweeping reform proposal to the next.

As he marks his 100th day in office Sunday, Lopez Obrador, 65, has a 78 percent approval rating, according to a recent poll by newspaper El Financiero.

The survey comes as the central bank has reduced its economic growth forecast for the year, amid policy uncertainty and rocky relations between Lopez Obrador and the business sector. Meanwhile, the president has pushed consumer confidence to its highest level since at least 2001.

A crackdown on fuel theft — a huge criminal industry that costs Mexico US$3 billion a year  and cuts in the government bureaucracy aimed at funding a raft of social programs have also been part of the measures implemented so far.

The president also canceled a US$13-billion Mexico City airport which was backed by Mexico's richest man and former President, Carlos Slim, as the airport was strongly contested over corruption concerns.

During the gasoline shortages, he took his case to the people, explaining he had to close pipelines temporarily to fight fuel theft gangs and the corrupt officials in bed with them. His popularity rose 10 points, to 86 percent, in El Financiero's next poll.

Lopez Obrador has also scored one major legislative success: passing a constitutional amendment to create a military-civilian National Guard. It is his plan to end Mexico's bloody and widely criticized "drug war," launched in 2006 when the government deployed the army to fight drug cartels.

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Number Of Dead In Mexico Fuel Explosion Rises To 107

Mexico City, Mexico: The death toll from a fiery pipeline explosion in central Mexico reached 107 Thursday, the government announced, with 40 people also injured in the blast last week.

Last Friday, the fuel-line in Hidalgo state was deliberately punctured, drawing hundreds of people looking to gather gasoline before it ignited.

The disaster occurred as the government wages a huge effort to clamp down on fuel theft, which costs Mexico an estimated $3 billion in 2017.

So-called "huachicol" -- as the stolen fuel is known in Mexico -- costs about half of market price. 

Mexico is regularly rocked by deadly explosions at illegal pipeline taps, a dangerous but lucrative business whose players include powerful drug cartels and corrupt Pemex insiders.

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Cuba Expresses Condolences to Mexican People after Explosion

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez expressed his condolences to the government and people of Mexico, where a gas pipeline exploded and killed more than 50 people.

'Deep condolences to the Mexican people and government for the loss of human lives due to the pipeline explosion in Tlahuelilpan, Hidalgo. I extend these condolences to the relatives of the victims,' Rodriguez posted on Twitter.

Some 66 people lost their lives and 76 were injured in the explosion.

After the incident on Friday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that the program against gasoline theft will continue despite the unfortunate event.

It hurts very much that these practices have taken root in recent times in our country, because the images of people with buckets and drums to extract gasoline or diesel is an unfortunately matter that extended to the entire oil area through which pipelines passes, the statesman said.

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200 Indigenous Mexicans Violently Forced out of Vacant Lot

Over 200 Indigenous Mexicans who were displaced by poverty demand justice after being illegally and violently evicted from a temporary home. 

A rights group denounced the eviction of more than 200 displaced indigenous people from an empty lot in the municipality of Tlapa, Mexico, by a legal representative of the owner’s property.

RELATED: Mexico: Indigenous Chol Community Denounces Eviction Attempt

Constancio Sanchez Campos, the legal representative, showed up with two bulldozers and threatened the displaced indigenous people with evicting them by force unless they paid US$10.50 for each lot, reported Guerrero Digital.

The displaced people denounced Sanchez’s violent and illegal eviction without an official warrant.

“The perpetrators of the eviction burned the matresses that they [the indigenous people] were sleeping on, as well as their blankets, and the few beans and corn they had saved to eat, while all their belongings remain buried,” stated the Mountain of Tlachinollan Center for Human Rights.

Tlachinollan demanded an end to the violence against displaced people from the two municipalities and urged state intervention to protect the rights of, and guarantee the safety and relocation of the families.

On November 2018, more than 200 families displaced from their homes in the Cochoapa Grande and Metlatonocmade municipalities made the empty lot located in Colonia de Las Mesas their “provisional home,” according to Digital Guerrero.

“Our crops did not germinate, the lands we farmed did not yield, and our homes are in deplorable conditions. Our children are dying from vomiting and diarrhea for lack of medical attention,” said Nieve Mendoza Lorenzo, who forms part of the displaced indigenous people’s committee, according to Desinformemonos.

Mendoza added that displaced people’s children are unable to attend school for a lack of teachers.

These communities were hard hit by the Ingrid and Manuel storms in 2013, which greatly worsened their situation of poverty, and did not receive any help from the government, reported Desinformemonos.

This is not an isolated incident. Recently, Indigenous Mayan Chol people of San Jose el Bascan in Chiapas, southern Mexico, denounced a threat of eviction from their recovered territories by landowners hoping to sell the land.

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Seven Morena Leaders Murdered after Winning 2018 Elections in Mexico

Mexico, Jan 3 (Prensa Latina) The assassination of Tlaxiaco Mayor Alejandro Aparicio Santiago, after taking office, has added up to seven Morena leaders killed after winning the July 1 elections, a consultancy agency reported.

The company Etelleki noted that these attacks occurred over the past six months and clarified that five of seven cases correspond to politicians elected under Morena, the movement turned into President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's party.

The other victims are Rosalio Gonzalez and Maria Ascension Cruz, council people in Armeria and Mazatepec. Both were assassinated by armed individuals on August 2 and December 30, respectively.

Yeidckol Polevnsky, leader of the Morena Movement, said that the 2017-2018 electoral process was the most violent in recent history, with 152 politicians assassinated, 37 of them from the winning party mainly in the state of Oaxaca.

The state prosecutor's office reported that the aggression against the Tlaxiaco mayor occurred while he was on his way to the city hall. He was shot along the way by armed men. As a result, four people were wounded and one was arrested. Aparicio Santiago died after receiving hospital attention.

Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat condemned the assassinations and asked the Attorney General's Office for an exhaustive investigation. Polevnsky called for clarification.

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Zapatistas Warn Mexico: 'We Won't Back AMLO Projects'

"It’s not easy to face political parties and bad governments are the current one: dishonest and deceitful,” said Subcomandante Moises.

Mexico's National Liberation Zapatista Army (EZLN) has declared it won’t allow the “death projects” of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in its territory, vowing to maintain autonomy based on Indigenous customs.

RELATED: New Era for Mexico's Zapatista Army 25 Years After Uprising

“We will fight, we will face, we won’t allow him to come here with his destructive projects,” said Subcomandante Moises, without naming Lopez Obrador directly, at the closing ceremony of the 25th anniversary celebrations. “We don’t fear his National Guard, a name chosen instead of army.”

Supporters had been at Guadalupe Tepeyac, part of the autonomous territories, along with members and representatives of the EZLN and support bases discussing future steps in the anticapitalist revolutionary struggle.

They later moved to La Realidad, a meeting point for regional autonomous governments, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Zapatista armed uprising on January 1.

The government of Lopez Obrador proposed the creation of the National Guard, a 50,000-strong security force that will be trained and commanded by the military to carry out public security duties.

Detractors describe it as a move to perpetuate and legalize militarization in the country, while supporters argue it’s a necessary move.

Lopez Obrador had been a strong critic of militarization, a process that started in 2006 with Felipe Calderon’s ‘war on drugs.' "Bringing the military back to the barracks” was one of his main demands in the opposition.

Now, the new president and his National Regeneration Movement (Morena) are pushing to reform the constitution to allow the military to assume public security duties.

Subcomante Moises, one of the two spokespersons of the EZLN along with Subcomandante Galeano, said the new center-left president will “destroy the people of Mexico, but mainly the oridinary people. They come for us, especially the EZLN.”

The Zapatista movement has always been at odds with Lopez Obrador. Since the first time he ran for president in 2006, the EZLN organized an alternative campaign and declared its opposition to the leftist candidate. Now, with its landslide victory in the 2018 elections, the Zapatistas have reiterated their position.

“The consultation they’re doing aims to manipulate the people," said Moises. "Through votes, they’re asking for permission to attack us. They’re consulting so they come and face us with that Maya Train crap, but if they provoke us we will defend ourselves. We won’t allow someone to come here and take this rebel territory.

RELATED: Mexico's EZLN Expresses Solidarity With Chile Mapuche Struggle

The Maya Train is a large-scale infrastructure project proposed by Lopez Obrador to connect the whole Yucatan Peninsula for tourism, transportation and economic purposes.

To continue with it, Lopez Obrador called for a national consultation by late November, with an outcome of 89.9 percent in favor.

Local organizations and Indigenous peoples have rejected the project, arguing that a consultation should take place following international and national standards on the rights of Indigenous peoples and their autonomy.

According to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Convention 169 , Indigenous peoples should be consulted by governments over any project related to their territory. But Lopez Obrador’s consultation was at a national level, ignoring the established protocol.

To mark the start of the project, Lopez Obrador held a traditional ceremony “to ask Mother Earth for permission” with sympathizing local Indigenous leaders and organizations, a move that was criticized by many because “Mother Earth couldn’t give him an answer.”

The EZLN called Lopez Obrador a trickster. “The one in power is treacherous," said Moises. "He says he’s with the people of Mexico and keeps tricking the Indigenous people, bowing to Earth asking it for permission and saying that all Indigenous peoples believe him, but we tell him we don’t believe him.”

Instead, the Subcomandante remembered the EZLN’s achievements in 25 years of struggle: “Our work and effort, with our mistakes.”

“Everything we’ve built, we’ve carried it ourselves. There are solidary sisters and brothers that have helped us, but it’s not easy to face political parties and bad governments are the current one: dishonest and deceitful.

“Five years ago we told the people of Mexico that a worse thing would come. A collapse, a hydra, a monster, a wall. We told them, but they didn’t listen. They listen to that whose name I don’t want to name.”

The Indigenous organization also criticized other projects promoted by Lopez Obrador, such as the promise to cultivate a million hectares of fruit and wood trees in Chiapas, sacrificing native rain forests.

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Mexico: AMLO Tips Army to Build Urban Development Center

The Army will be in charge of the construction of housing projects and transportation infrastructures.

The army will build an urban development center in Mexico City, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) said Thursday, stressing that private companies will not be allowed to take control of one of the last strips of undeveloped land in the country’s capital.

RELATED: Mexico: 'We Will Not Break Diplomatic Relations with Venezuela'

"It's not going to be a private real estate company, it's not a private business. It is the government, in this case, the secretary of defense which carries out the urbanization," AMLO said.

The project, whose value could reach up to US$1.5 billion, will be undertaken on a 30-hectare site, which is part of a 125-hectare military base, located inside Mexico City's downtown.

The announcement is consistent with previous statements by the president. Prior to becoming a candidate, the leftist president had attacked what he calls "neoliberal" practices of past administrations which benefited business elites over ordinary citizens.

At the beginning of the year, former President Enrique Peña Nieto had planned to sell the military base, but put the plans on hold after local residents opposed the possible transformation of a large green site into an urban development location.

Aeropuerto en Santa Lucía será construido por el Ejército: López Obrador - Partidero

"Airport in Santa Lucia will be built by the Army. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said that, thanks to the successful repurchase of Mexico's New International Airport bonds, the way is finally cleared to solve this matter."

Lopez Obrador reassured his countrymen that 70 out of the 125 hectares of land would become a new public park, which has been conceived of as an expansion of Latin America's oldest and largest urban park, the 'Chapultepec Forest.'

In early December, Defense Secretary Luis Sandoval said the Mexican army planned to build luxury homes on the site. However, AMLO did not give any specific details about the type of urban project that could be developed on the rest of the site. 

"[On that part of the city] the square meter is very expensive. It is a residential site having very luxury apartments... in such site that kind of houses are going to be made and sold," Saldoval said, according to an official document which quoted his speech.

The funds, Sandoval further added, from the sale of the project would be used to build facilities for 85 battalions of the future National Guard.

On Friday, President Lopez Obrador also said that the Mexican army will build Mexico City's new international airport on the grounds of what is now a military base in Santa Lucia.

The new civilian airport will replace a controversial multi-million project, in Texcoco, which was canceled due to social mobilizations against it.

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Mexico's president did not discuss border wall with Trump

MEXICO CITY/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Thursday he has not discussed a proposed border wall with President Donald Trump, as the U.S. leader seemingly backtracked on threats to make Mexico pay for the controversial project.

“We have not discussed that issue, in any conversation. ... It was a respectful and friendly conversation,” Lopez Obrador told reporters following a tweet in which the U.S. president said a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada would cover the cost of a wall.

The two leaders spoke by telephone on Wednesday. Lopez Obrador said they discussed the possibility of creating a joint program for development and job creation in Central America and Mexico.

One of Trump’s key campaign promises was to build the border wall and he had long pledged that Mexico — not U.S. taxpayers — would fund it.

In a Twitter post early on Thursday, Trump again insisted that Mexico will foot the bill for the border wall.

He wrote that payment will begin with savings for the United States as a result of the renegotiated trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada. “Just by the money we save, MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL!”

Mexico has repeatedly rejected Trump’s demand that it pay for the project, and it is unlikely the country’s new president will reverse that course.

Funding for the border wall has been a sticking point in spending bills before the U.S. Congress, and Trump clashed with leading Democrats over the issue during an Oval Office meeting on Tuesday.

One of them, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, taunted Trump over his Mexico claim later on Thursday.

“Mr. President: If you say Mexico is going to pay for the wall (which I don’t believe), then I guess we don’t have to! Let’s fund the government,” Schumer retorted in his own Twitter post.

Lopez Obrador said he also discussed a possible meeting with Trump in Washington.

“He invited me. I’m also able to go to Washington, but I think that both for him and for us there must be a reason and I think the most important thing would be to sign this agreement or meet with that purpose,” said Lopez Obrador.

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