Mar 5, 2019

What to make of López Obrador's moves on corruption, Trump

Photo: Pedro Gonzalez Castillo/Getty Images

Nearly 100 days on from his inauguration, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador remains immensely popular and on very good terms with President Trump. That's in part because, as the NYT reports, he's "carrying out the Trump administration’s immigration agenda across wide stretches of the border."

What to watch: Roberta Jacobson, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico from 2016 to 2018, says that's a "bromance that's destined to sour" despite López Obrador's desire to maintain good relations with Washington. Domestically, though, little stands in his way.

  • Speaking on Altamar, the global affairs podcast, Jacobson said no other major political figure has any "standing to speak up on the corruption issue."
  • But she says the steps López Obrador has taken so far on corruption are "weak" and "expedient." She asks: "At what point, if at all, do the majority of people become disillusioned with bread and circuses instead of real institutional changes."
  • "López Obrador is not an institutionalist. He's an 'I alone can fix it' type of president. And that's a real concern. Will he take relatively weak domestic institutions and fail to make them stronger, or in fact weaken them on corruption and a whole host of other issues."

Her bottom line: "I'm hoping he doesn't become an authoritarian."

Behind the scenes: Jacobsen spent some time with López Obrador prior to his election. She says he's smart and engaging, but has "a tendency to view any criticism as personal, and I think that could be his Achilles' heel."

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