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But he also praised Ricardo Salinas Pliego, one of Mexico's biggest tycoons who has benefited from the state's privatization policies.
The Mexican center-left presidential frontrunner for the “Together We'll Make History” coalition Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, or AMLO, said that privatization policies “will go to the dustbin of history” in case he wins the July 1 elections.
“This is not about vengeance, but justice, because we won't allow corruption to keep thriving,” said Lopez Obrador in front of thousands of supporters gathered in the Benito Juarez square in Zitacuaro, in the state of Michoacan, adding his government would review privatization contracts and concessions in order to find possible irregularities in the processes.
In a region where farmers are in a constant struggle for water against big industries and large-scale agriculture, Lopez Obrador promised that water won't be privatized, as “some groups in power are proposing,” but that a million hectares of fruit and timber trees will be planted to create 400,000 jobs in the region.
But hours before his event in Zitacuaro, the candidate tried to appease the business class in an event called “Recover Your Future,” organized by Grupo Salinas, one of the biggest media, transport and communication conglomerates in Latin America, saying he wouldn't expropriate anything, but he also criticized those businesspeople that opposed a change in Mexican society.
“There are influence traffickers that don't contribute anything and are dedicated to looting, stealing, and are insatiable. And now they're even opposing a change in the country, they want to keep their privileges,” said Lopez Obrador in front of a public consisting mostly of young entrepreneurs.
AMLO waves during a meeting with young people organised by Kybernus, a program by Grupo Salinas aimed the creation of social values, in Mexico City, Mexico May 28, 2018. | Reuters
He also criticized companies and business people that have called for voting against him, such as Grupo Herdez, a food industry giant that warned its employees of the possible economic crisis that could come in case Lopez Obrador wins.
“We will address this issue without expropriating goods... we will fight to build a democracy, not a dictatorship. We will never affect the freedom of the citizens.. it will be a radical change, we will root out the corrupt regime,” he said.
Lopez Obrador has been widely criticized by some sectors of the left, even within his own National Renewal Movement (Morena), for compromising too much with the business and political class of the country, fearing his concessions could actually hamper efforts for a true transformation in Mexican politics.
And during this event, he even praised Mexican businessman Ricardo Salinas Pliego, owner of the organizing Grupo Salinas, the mass media conglomerate TV Azteca and other communication firms, and said the tycoon is different because he reads a lot and knows the history of the country.
“Not everyone who has [money] is evil, I'm just against wrongful wealth. The director of this foundation has money, but he also has a social dimension,” said Lopez Obrador in referente of Salinas Pliego, founder of Grupo Salinas which organized the forum.
No me extraña que López Obrador haya defendido a Salinas Pliego. No sé si recuerden que este le dio espacios cuando reinaba el cerco mediático en su contra. Obviamente, es un error político defenderlo y justificar a un personaje como él.
“I don't find it strange that Lopez Obrador defended Salinas Pliego. I don't know if you remember he [Salinas] gave him space when there was a media siege against him [Lopez Obrador]. Obviously, it's a political mistake to defend him and justify a character like him.”
The comment earned him criticism from supporters, remembering that Salinas Pliego ordered the controversial “Chiquihuitazo” in 2002, when an armed group took over the buildings of Canal 40, with which TV Azteca had a legal battle after a split, forcing employees to shut down their signal.
Lopez Obrador, referred to in Mexico as AMLO for his initials, is leading all opinion polls by a wide margin, ranging from 20 to 30 points ahead of Ricardo Anaya, a young right-wing politician that has never served in any public office.