Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took the oath of office Saturday as Mexico's first leftist president in 70 years, reports the AP, marking a turning point in one of the world's most radical experiments in opening markets and privatization. In his first speech to Congress, Lopez Obrador pledged "a peaceful and orderly transition, but one that is deep and radical ... because we will end the corruption and impunity that prevent Mexico's rebirth." Mexico long had a closed, state-dominated economy, but since entering the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs in 1986, it has signed more free trade deals than almost any other country, and privatized almost every corner of the economy except oil and electricity. Now, though, Lopez Obrador talks a talk not heard in Mexico since the 1960s: He wants to build more state-owned oil refineries and encourages Mexicans to "not to buy abroad, but to produce in Mexico what we consume."
Even so, Lopez Obrador has tried to send conciliatory gestures to financial markets, which have been roiled in the weeks before he took office. "I promise, and I'm a man of my word, that the investments of foreign and international investors will be safe, and we will even create conditions that will allow them to get good returns," he said, "because in Mexico there will be honesty, rule of law, clear rules, economic growth, and confidence." The first foreign dignitaries that Lopez Obrador greeted were US Vice President Mike Pence and Ivanka Trump. "I want to say that since ... the day I was elected, I have received respectful treatment from (Trump)," Lopez Obrador said. But he faces a challenge with a caravan of thousands of Central American migrants camped out on the border, which Trump had threatened to close to keep them out. "The only person he (Lopez Obrador) can't afford to get in a fight with is Trump, because he knows he could derail his plan," said author and columnist Raymundo Riva Palacio. "He is willing to do the dirty work for them."
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