Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a populist leader who has compared Donald Trump to Hitler, was elected to the Mexican presidency on Sunday, after years of trying and failing to rally voters to his cause. The leftist politician first ran for office in 2006, when he narrowly lost a hotly contested election against Felipe Calderon. Obrador angrily refused to accept the election results and doggedly set up a “parallel government,” occupying the Paseo de la Reforma with his followers for months.
In 2012, Obrador ran again and lost again, this time to Enrique Pena Nieto. Again, Obrador charged that there was widespread voting fraud. Specifically, he claimed that Pena Nieto had handed out gift cards to a popular chain store. Pena Nieto always denied these accusations.
On July 1, Obrador won a decisive victory against Ricardo Anaya, of the National Action Party (PAN). Lopez Obrador garnered at least 53 percent of the vote, while Anaya had 22 percent.
Lopez-Obrador and Trump don’t have a personal relationship. But Lopez Obrador’s campaign was charged with anti-Trump rhetoric, and many observers wonder what the next step will be for the two leaders — and for the two countries they represent.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. AMLO Has Been Called “Mexico’s Trump”
During the election season, Bloomberg News ran an editorial calling AMLO “Mexico’s Trump.” Bloomberg pointed out that, although Obrador liked to attack Trump for his policies on immigration and the economy, the Mexican politician had a lot in common with the American president.
Like Trump, AMLO is a populist. He has masses of supporters who view him as an icon and a hero. His supporters are largely working class, members of trade and labor unions. Just as Trump likes to attack the “coastal elites,” AMLO criticizes the “rapacious minority” in his own country. And AMLO also, like Trump, believes in economic protectionism and trade barriers. He has called for a re-writing of NAFTA. And he has done a lot of tough talk about punishing America is the US decides to build a wall along the US-Mexican border.
“Trump may therefore recognize a kindred spirit south of the border,” notes Bloomberg News.
Politico also wrote a piece calling Lopez Obrador “Mexico’s Trumpian Populist.” Politico notes that, although Lopez Obrador’s style on the campaign trail may be similar to Trump’s, the two men have hugely different economic policies — something which is likely to spell trouble for Mexico-US relations.
2. AMLO Wrote A Best Seller Which Compared Trump to Hitler
Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Lopez Obrador published a book called “Oye, Trump,” (“Listen, Trump”). The book was a collection of Lopez Obrador’s speeches. It contained harsh critiques of the American president; for example, Obrador wrote, “Trump and his advisers speak of the Mexicans the way Hitler and the Nazis referred to the Jews, just before undertaking the infamous persecution and the abominable extermination.”
Lopez Obrador has written dozens of other books, mainly about Mexican history.
3. AMLO Once Filed a Complaint Against the Trump Administration with the Organization of American States
In 2017, Lopez Obrador traveled to Washington DC to file a formal complaint against the Trump administration with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in Washington, D.C. (The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is a part of the Organization of American States, a grouping which includes both the United States and Mexico.)
Lopez Obrador said the petition at the OAS denounced President Donald Trump’s plans for a wall along the US-Mexico border and alleged that there is ongoing “persecution” of migrants in the United States. And Lopez Obrador said that he would seek an “international injunction” against Trump’s executive orders.
Lopez Obrador’s lawyer, Netzaí Sandoval, traveled with Lopez Obrador to OAS headquarters. Sandoval said, “We’ve requested that the massive deportation of Mexican migrants be stopped,and we have indicated the violation of human rights of Mexicans through the use of a racist and discriminatory discourse.”
In 2018, Lopez Obrador vowed that he would fight Trump all the way to the United Nations over the border wall issue. “We won’t allow this wall to be built, we’ll persuade Donald Trump that it’s not necessary,” said Lopez Obrador during a campaign stop in February. He added, “And if he insists and wants to impose this wall, we’ll go to the United Nations and present a complaint.”
AMLO Said Mexico Is Not a “Pinata” For the United States to Hit
At the opening of his campaign, Lopez Obrador vowed that he would be tough on Trump. Lopez Obrador addressed a crowd of his supporters in Ciudad Juarez on April 1, 2018. TPresident Trump had just repeated his threat to cancel NAFTA; Trump had also tweeted that Mexico was not doing anything to stop the flow of immigrants crossing from Mexico into the United States.
Lopez Obrador criticized the incumbent president, Enrique Pena Nieto for his export policies which, he said, left the majority of Mexicans in poverty. And he vowed that Mexico will not stand for mistreatment from the United States.
“Mexico and its people will not be the pinata of any foreign government,” Lopez Obrador said, and added, “It’s not with walls or use of force that you resolve social problems.”
5. Trump Says He looks Forward to Working with AMLO
On Sunday night, President Trump tweeted congratulations to Lopez Obrador. Trump wrote, “Congratulations to Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on becoming the next President of Mexico. I look very much forward to working with him. There is much to be done that will benefit both the United States and Mexico!”
On Sunday morning, Trump’s ambassador to Mexico appeared on CBS News and said that she hopes for a positive relationship between Mexico and the US during Lopez Obrador’s presidency. The ambassador, Roberta Jackson, acknowledged that it might be tough to keep up a good relationship between the two countries, but she stressed that both leaders are eager and willing to work together.
“One of the things that he [Lopez Obrador], both in my discussions with him and many of his conversations and advisers conversations ahead of these elections have emphasized is the relationship with the United States and that it be positive,” Jacobson said on “Face the Nation” Sunday. “They’re going to work hard on that, which does not mean it’s going to be easier than it has been with current Mexican government. I think there a number of issues on which it’s going to be difficult and maybe harder.”