Mexico’s presidential campaign ended on Wednesday with a fiesta of rallies, as establishment candidates made last-ditch pleas for voters to reject the radical break with the past promised by leftist front-runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, widely known as “ALMO.”
All four candidates held a series of huge rallies around the nation — none more festive than Lopez Obrador’s in Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium, where an A-list of Mexican musicians performed before his speech.
With his anti-corruption platform, the fiery former Mexico City mayor looks virtually unstoppable heading into Sunday’s vote.
Opinion polls have given him a double-digit lead for months. Two polls released on Wednesday — the final day for campaigning and polls — put his advantage at more than 20 points.
Sick of endemic corruption and horrific violence fueled by the nation’s powerful drug cartels, many Mexicans are keen for any alternative to the two parties that have governed for nearly a century: the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the conservative National Action Party (PAN).
“The policies we’ve been applying for the past 30 years haven’t worked. We haven’t even had economic growth,” Lopez Obrador told thousands of cheering supporters as he wrapped up his campaign. “What’s grown is corruption, poverty, crime and violence. That’s why we’re going to send their policies to the dustbin of history.”
Such attacks have left Lopez Obrador’s rivals scrambling to distance themselves from their parties’ legacies, while also warning that Lopez Obrador’s ideas are dangerous.
Judging by the opinion polls, the PRI and PAN candidates — former Mexican secretary of finance Jose Antonio Meade and former congressional speaker Ricardo Anaya respectively — are having a hard time selling that message.
Both were holding out hope they would manage to unite the anti-AMLO vote and win.
“Our coalition is the only one that can beat Lopez Obrador,” Anaya said at his final rally in Leon. “I’m calling on all good people, including those in other parties, those with no party... I am explicitly calling on you to cast a pragmatic vote.”
“The silent majority will win us this election,” Meade said.
Lopez Obrador has clashed with Mexico’s business community, with some saying he might pursue Venezuela-style socialist policies that could wreck Latin America’s second-largest economy.
Seeking to soothe the markets, he has backpedaled on some of his most controversial proposals.
Instead of reversing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s landmark energy reform, he now proposes simply reviewing the existing contracts privatizing the oil sector, and he has remained vague on a proposed amnesty for criminals, his idea to deal with violence that saw a record 25,000 murders last year.
Many of Mexico’s 88 million voters are not sure what Lopez Obrador represents other than something new, but in these elections, that might be enough.
“Who cares if they say he’s going to do a bad job running the country? These other politicians have experience, they speak who knows how many languages, and look where that got us. They robbed us, they’re corrupt,” said Teresa Rivera, 68, a maid who had been standing in line since 5am to see Lopez Obrador’s evening rally.
Mexico’s next president faces a laundry list of challenges, including crime, corruption, a lackluster economy and a complicated relationship with the US under US President Donald Trump, whose anti-trade and anti-immigration policies have turned diplomacy with Mexico’s largest trading partner into a minefield.
Lopez Obrador has vowed to “put [Trump] in his place.”
Ironically, some commentators have drawn parallels between the two: Both are free-trade skeptics who have fired up a disgruntled base with anti-establishment campaigns.
However, unlike Trump, Lopez Obrador has built an image as an ascetic everyman.
“I’m going to halve the presidential salary and continue living in my own house,” he said in a widely circulated campaign video. “I’m going to govern by example, with austerity.”
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after