Dispatches From Mexico City: Musings On The Country’s New President
June was a jam-packed month around these parts. In many ways I’m still reeling from everything that happened.
The three women in my life – girlfriend, mother, and sister – all celebrated their birthday in June, which is also the month I had to begin the process of renewing my visa, it’s also the month we chose to move to a new apartment. Add to that all the day-to-day dramas that can accumulate in a month and it can take a toll. All of which I’ll probably get to in future installments of this column.
But bigger than everything that hit my household last month was the first day of this month. On July 1st Mexicans headed to the polls to elect their new representatives. More than 3,000 positions were voted on. Town mayors, the entirety of congress, and the President himself would each be selected. It was one of the bloodiest campaigns in history, with more than 130 politicians killed in the nine months leading up to polling day, which itself was mired with violence following a number of reports of armed gunmen stealing ballot boxes around the country.
Who those gunment were working for is a matter of debate, and one’s opinion usually comes down to their political stripes. Were politicians elected because of or in spite of those ballot boxes being stolen? At this point there seems little interest in answering that question.
But all the violence and alleged fraud couldn’t dampen the celebration on the evening of July 1st after it was announced Andrés Manuel López Obrador had won the presidency. López Obrador — or AMLO, as he’s often called — rode a populist leftist wave to the presidential palace on a promise to stamp out corruption across the country.
Here in Mexico City, hundreds of people gathered at the Angél de la Independencia to celebrate. I’ve heard from some Mexican friends that it was the first time in their lives they felt like they lived in a democracy. Still, there is scepticism from those who have held power in this country for the last few decades and their supporters toward AMLO. Many see him as a man without a real platform, despite his largely positive track record as head of government (a title akin to mayor) of Mexico City in 2000.
As AMLO won’t be sworn in until December 1, the country will have to wait and see if he follows through on his promises of radical change. But for now, the mood here seems happy and hopeful.
I just remarked to my girlfriend that in our brief time here we’ve been witness to some of the most historic events in this country’s recent history – this election and September’s earthquake. Now I’m anxious and excited to see what the next few months will bring.
Ty Trumbull, from his base in Mexico City, covers the entrepreneur’s journey and business continuity for ChannelE2E. Each Tuesday or so, he offers views about his adopted hometown — his personal Dispatches from Mexico City. Oh, but sometimes he pops up in his home nation of Canada.