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Book Review For the many, not the few in Mexico

The country's next president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador advances policies which could finally challenge neoliberal austerity, corruption and narco violence in his new book, says LEO BOIX

A New Hope For Mexico
by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador
(O/R Books, £15)

“OUR first priority must be serving the poor. It is both an ethical imperative and a necessity for ensuring the stability of Mexican society,” writes Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, commonly referred to as AMLO, in A New Hope for Mexico.

It’s the blueprint of his party, the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), for a transformation of the country after winning the presidential elections last July. Obrador triumphed with 53 per cent of the vote as part of the coalition Juntos Haremos Historia (Together We’ll Make History).

Mexico has been blighted for decades by rampant corruption, growing inequality, nepotism and narco violence and Obrador's analysis is insightful and informed by a belief in the power of the working classes. He offers an alternative political approach to the neoliberal model, one based on redistribution of wealth, eradication of poverty and the revitalisation of an economy that's suffered from negative growth since 2014.

“Mexico’s crisis cannot be confronted without first addressing corruption,” he writes, adding that “this requires regime change and the establishment of a new political order, one that is democratic, that promotes the rule of law, is humanist and honest.”

Mexico will not grow strong if its public institutions remain at the service of wealthy elites, he stresses, because the state has been sequestered by a small minority and this is the primary cause of the national malaise.

“We must rid ourselves of the myth that development requires blind acquiescence to market forces,” he writes.

“The state cannot escape its duties to the people … Its basic function is to prevent the few who have much from abusing the many who have little.”

Obrador's priorities are halting the privatisation of the energy sector, investing in education and infrastructure, expanding social welfare and opposing Trump’s border wall. This political platform is laid out in the book's 10 chapters that address the economic ills, successive governments' mismanagement, mass migration and corruption at the highest level.

These are interspersed with Obrador’s speeches in defence of migrants, all poignantly entitled Oye, Trump! (Listen, Trump!)

In one, given in the border town of Acuna on the first day of Trump’s presidency, Obrador states: “We shall strive tirelessly to convince the US government that [human] fellowship, without walls or borders, is the best approach,” but he adds: “Without impinging on the rights of others, we will firmly defend our freedom and sovereignty.”

Veteran writer and political activist Elena Poniatowska spells out in  the book’s epilogue the essentials for those interested in learning about the new left in Latin America and its options for further resisting the neoliberal model.

Obrador will take charge of his country on December 1 with the aim of ending decades of conservative governments and promising fairer, more honest politics.

Millions of Mexicans remain hopeful that he will not only deliver on his key promises but in the process radically transform their country.

Only time will tell how such promise will turn out.

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