A year in the life of President Obrador – who has been compared with Jeremy Corbyn
Ellen Brown reports that Andrés Manuel López Obrador (known as AMLO) has been compared with the United Kingdom’s left-wing opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn. He and his left-wing coalition won by a landslide in Mexico’s 2018 general election, overturning the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that had ruled the country for much of the past century. Some points made in her article are recorded below.
Called Mexico’s “first full-fledged left-wing experiment,” AMLO’s election marks a dramatic change in the political direction of the country. AMLO wrote in his 2018 book “A New Hope for Mexico,” “In Mexico the governing class constitutes a gang of plunderers…. Mexico will not grow strong if our public institutions remain at the service of the wealthy elites.”
The new president has held to his campaign promises. In 2019, his first year in office, he purged the government of technocrats and institutions he considered corrupt, profligate or impeding the transformation of Mexico after 36 years of failed market-focused neoliberal policies. Other accomplishments (recorded here) have included
- substantially increasing the minimum wage
- while cutting top government salaries and oversize pensions;
- making small loans and grants directly to farmers;
- guaranteeing crop prices for key agricultural crops;
- launching programs to benefit youth, the disabled and the elderly;
- initiating a $44 billion infrastructure plan and building 2,700 branches of a government-owned Bank of the Poor.
At a press conference on Jan. 6, he explained that the neoliberal model had failed; private banks were not serving the poor and people outside the cities, so the government had to step in
Ellen Brown reports that when speaking to a local group in December, President Obrador said his goal was to set up a Bank of the Poor with 13,000 branches, more than all the private banks in the country combined. Two days later he explained, at a news conference on Jan. 8: “There are more than 1,000 municipalities that don’t have a bank branch. We’re dispersing [welfare] resources but we don’t have a way to do it. . . . People have to go to branches that are two, three hours away. If we don’t bring these services close to the people, we’re not going to bring development to the people. … I’ll invite you within two months, three at the most, to the inauguration of the first branches because they’re already working, they’re getting the land … because we have to do it quickly”. Digital banking will also be developed.
Branches will be built on land owned by the government or donated, and software companies have offered to advise for free. The 10 billion pesos ($530.4 million) needed to build the new branches would come from federal savings from other programs and the bank’s operating expenses will be covered by small commissions paid on each transaction by customers, most of whom will be welfare recipients.
López Obrador’s goal is to construct a “new paradigm” in economic policy aiming not only to increase gross domestic product but also to improve human welfare.
Posted on February 8, 2020, in Economy, Government, Jeremy Corbyn, Poverty and tagged Andrés Manuel López Obrador Ellen Brown, Mexico, neoliberal policies, wealthy elites. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.