Can Mexico’s New President End His Nation’s Violence and Corruption?

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Andres Lopez Obrador

Andres Lopez Obrador, Mexico's president-elect. P{hoto by Diario Presencia via Flickr

Mexican President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador has a long road ahead to dismantle corrupt politics and end rampant violence in Mexico, according to experts.

“I think the biggest hurdle is that corruption is everywhere and the biggest challenge is where do you start?” David Shirk, an expert on security in Mexico and professor at the University of San Diego, told The Crime Report.

Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor who won a decisive victory Sunday with 53 percent of the votes on a platform that included pledges to tackle his country’s endemic violence and corruption, will have to make difficult decisions early on in the presidency, such as whether or not to prosecute corrupt government officials, Shirk said.

During his campaign, Obrador vowed to root out official corruption— long unaddressed by outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s ruling PRI party, according to Politico. 

But whether or not Obrador will prosecute governors at the state level, and other top officials, remains unclear.

One way that Obrador could could restore justice is by strengthening the National Anti-Corruption Commission, a commission created under the previous administration to fight corrupt politics, but was never really used, said Shirk.

Under the National Anti Corruption Commission, Obrador may be able to prosecute government officials by making the commission a prosecutorial body.

“He can also give them more funding and do more things to strengthen that commission” said Shirk.

“The most important thing he can do if he is sincere about fighting corruption is to show support to that commission. Obrador needs to strengthen the institutions that are intended to fight corruption.”

Obrador also vowed to focus on ending poverty in Mexico rather than pouring more resources into a war on drugs that under the previous administration had been led by the army.

In his 400-page platform, Lopez Obrador laid out a detailed plan to revitalize farms of the rural poor and to boost industries, including through government procurement programs that favor national content — a measure reminiscent of Trump’s America First policies. He’d also shift focus from a war on drugs to poverty-fighting measures to bring down violence, including offering salaries for unemployed youth, even as he’s pledged austerity.

Another way Obrador pledged to overcome the war on drugs is to offer amnesty to nonviolent drug offenders.

See also: Next Mexican President May Offer Amnesty in Drug War

“Obrador is likely to take Mexico’s current drug policies and expand them significantly to include amnesty for dealers and individuals who are involved in drug trafficking,” said Shirk.

Notably, this election was one of the bloodiest in Mexico’s history, with over 100 candidates injured or killed in connection to the election, an unprecedented level of violence fueled by the country’s powerful drug cartels.

Megan Hadley is a reporter for The Crime Report. She welcomes comments from readers.

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