Mexico’s new President Lopez Obrador rides a wave of euphoria

World Today

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador,Enrique Pena NietoMexico’s new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto embrace at the end of the swearing-in ceremony in the lower house chambers of the National Congress, in Mexico City, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. Lopez Obrador took the oath of office Saturday as Mexico’s first leftist president in over 70 years, marking a turning point in one of the world’s most radical experiments in opening markets and privatization. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Mexico’s first leftist President in decades has taken office. He delivered a 90-minute speech before thousands of cheering supporters just hours after his inauguration and the start of his term has been greeted with a festive mood. CGTN’s Franc Contreras reports.

Mexicans had never seen a newly sworn-in president kneel before indigenous people. It is a country with nearly 26 million native people, who often live in poverty and are forgotten by those in power.

A renowned leader of the Zapotec people and an environmental activist from Oaxaca state, Carmen Santiago handed Lopez Obrador a baton that symbolizes authority granted by the people.

And just hours after taking the oath of office, Lopez Obrador delivered a 90-minute speech in Mexico City’s main plaza before thousands of cheering supporters.

“We will abolish advantages and privileges, impunity will end,” Lopez Obrador said. “We are going to cut bureaucratic fat from the budget, because corruption is going to end, and there will no longer be any luxuries in the government.”

The cultural celebration lasted hours into the night, and included traditional indigenous dances performed on stage.

Days before the inauguration, CGTN journalists traveled to Lopez Obrador’s home state, Tabasco. In Villahermosa, the state capital, and asked voters what were the most important issues on their minds.

“I think mainly we need a stronger economy, and that there be fair salaries for all workers and that more job opportunities are created,” said Nadxilely Castro.

There are also some of who want to see Lopez Obrador keep his word and combat corruption, but there also doubts if the problem can ever be eliminated.

“In reality, as I have told people in my rural town and in this city, we can never completely end corruption,” said Samuel Sanchez Ramirez, a retired elementary school teacher. “Even if he says it’s possible. It will not end.”

Despite that pessimism, many of Lopez Obrador’s supporters are still in a festive mood, even as their new leader gets down to the business of confronting rampant poverty, a weak economy and wide-spread violence that plague the country.