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On December 1st, Mexico will experience a change in leadership. El nuevo presidente de México (the new President of Mexico), Andrés Manuel López Obrador, will take office and succeed Enrique Peña Nieto. Commonly known as AMLO, he handily won the election with 53% of the vote. In this post, I’ll introduce AMLO and give you a nice Spanish lesson through his campaign ads and victory speech.
AMLO may be the new President of Mexico, but he’s certainly not new to politics. His political career started back in 1976 as a member of the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional). He left his home state of Tabasco for Mexico City to work at the National Consumers’ Institute, which he did until 1988.
At that time, he resigned from his position and joined the dissenting PRD (Partido de la Revolución Democrática). In 1994, he ran for governor in his home state but lost to a PRI candidate. He soon made the national stage by defending the rights of gente indígena (indigenous peoples) by blocking Pemex oil fields in protest.
He would go on to become the Head of Government of the Federal District, which basically means mayor of Mexico City. When the presidential election of 2006 came around, he decided to throw his hat in the ring. In a controversial election, he lost by less than one point to Felipe Calderón. He did not concede, but instead led protests in the streets.
AMLO tried again in 2012 only to lose even more convincingly. The current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, won by about 7%. Once again, he rejected the results and called the election invalid. They say the third time’s the charm, and that has proven true for AMLO. He easily won the 2018 election, finishing with a nearly 30 point lead over the runner-up. Not surprisingly, he immediately accepted the results of this election.
The new president of Mexico is often described as a left-wing populist. He rode a wave of dissatisfaction with the status quo to victory, by promising to root out corruption and be a man of the people. In one campaign add, he said:
“Voy a obtener la mitad del sueldo que recibe actualmente el Presidente de la República.”
I’m going to get half the salary that the President of the Republic is currently receiving.
Mr. López Obrador has also vowed to fight against poverty in Mexico. For starters, he said he will double pensions for the elderly as soon as he takes office. If you’re curious to learn more about AMLO’s policies, I recommend this great article from Brookings, which describes him as having an “ambitious but vague agenda.”
Here’s a clip from AMLO’s victory speech in the Zócalo of Mexico City and the celebrations in the street surrounding it. Listen to the clip and then keep reading for the Spanish text with English translations.
“Este triunfo pertenece a todas y a todos. Es el esfuerzo de muchos dirigentes sociales, políticos, de muchos ciudadanos, indígenas, campesinos, obreros, estudiantes, profesionales, de todas las clases sociales, de todos los sectores, de todas las religiones, millones de (católicos, millones de evangélicos, y de) millones de libres pensadores.”
This triumph belongs to all. It is the effort of many social, political leaders, of many citizens, indigenous people, peasants, workers, students, professionals, of all social classes, of all sectors, of all religions, millions of (Catholics, millions of Evangelicals, and of) millions of free thinkers.
“Vamos a cumplir todos los compromisos, no les voy a fallar…”
We will fulfill all the commitments. I will not fail you…
The clip cuts out there, but in the speech he went on to say:
“…no se van a decepcionar. Soy muy consciente de mi responsabilidad y no quiero pasar a la historia como un mal presidente.”
…you will not be disappointed. I am very aware of my historical responsibility. I do not want to go down in history as a bad president. I know what the other presidents have done, from Guadalupe Victoria to the current one, and I want to go down in history as a good President of Mexico.
At the end of the clip, you’ll hear people chanting “¡Sí se pudo!”, which means “Yes, he can!” We’ll see if that’s true, as AMLO begins his term as the new President of Mexico very soon. If you’re interested in doing some serious Spanish reading practice, you can find the full speech here.
You can see a few more clips of AMLO speaking Spanish with English translations in this short video from Guardian News: