MEXICO CITY – Veteran leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador formally launched his third campaign for the Mexican presidency on Tuesday with a speech stressing the need to address the root causes of the violence that plagues the Aztec nation.
“Today we begin a new and definitive stage of the struggle of the Movement for National Regeneration (Morena),” the former Mexico City mayor said.
Lopez Obrador, who lost the 2006 election by less than 1 percent and finished second again in 2012, currently leads in the polls for the July 2018 contest.
Pledging to ensure a “democratic rule of law,” he said that if he is elected, no one in Mexico will be above or outside the law.
On the issue of public safety, Lopez Obrador again raised his controversial proposal to consider a wide-ranging amnesty for convicted criminals as part of “exploring all possibilities for stopping the violence.”
Any amnesty would come only after extensive consultations – notably with families of crime victims – and would be open only to inmates who commit to rehabilitation, the candidate said.
And while determined to deal with the underlying economic and social conditions that contribute to violence, Lopez Obrador said that he would also create a new national law-enforcement agency and insist on receiving detailed daily briefings on crime statistics.
To boost the economy, he promised to provide relief to all of those affected by the pair of massive earthquakes that rocked Mexico in September, advocating a program focused on housing, infrastructure and improved public services.
Clamping down on corruption will free up revenue to invest in job creation, boost pensions for retirees and revive Mexico’s battered rural economy, Lopez Obrador said.
Mexican foreign policy under a Morena government would be guided by “the principles of non-interference and national self-determination,” he said.
“We will maintain a relationship of friendship and cooperation with the government of the United States,” Lopez Obrador said, though adding that Mexico will not accept mistreatment of Mexicans north of the border, “nor racist, hegemonic or overbearing attitudes,” a clear allusion to the rhetoric of US President Donald Trump.
The leftist hopeful also outlined a plan to reorganize the Mexican federal government by relocating all most departments and agencies outside the capital.
Under the initiative, only the president’s office and the departments dealing with defense, foreign affairs, finance and national administration would remain in Mexico City.
He said that decentralization makes sense in light of the capital’s vulnerability to natural disasters such as the Sept. 19 earthquake.