On December 1, Mexico will have a new president—Andrés Manuel López Obrador. He will take over the presidency from the lackluster Enrique Peña Nieto, whose administration is marinated in corruption. Peña Nieto’s legal office has already asked the Supreme Court to shield his officials from prosecution for corruption. The elite will protect itself. López Obrador will not be able to properly exorcize the corrupt from the Mexican state, let alone from Mexican society. Corrupt weeds grow on the soil of capitalism, the loam of profit and greed as well as of rents from government contracts.
López Obrador comes to the presidency as a man of the left, but the space for maneuvering that he has for a left agenda is minimal. Mexico’s economy, through geography and trade agreements, is fused with that of the United States. More than 80 percent of Mexico’s exports go to its neighbor to the north, while Mexico’s financial sector is almost entirely at the mercy of Northern banks.
Already, López Obrador has had to deal with the leash from Northern banks that sits tightly around Mexico’s throat. On October 28, after the election, López Obrador canceled the project to build a new airport for Mexico City. This new airport—at a cost of US$13.4 billion—is seen as far too expensive (Istanbul has just inaugurated a new airport, far bigger, for almost US$2 billion less). The peso fell, the Mexican stock market fell, Fitch downgraded Mexico to “negative,” and international investors frowned.