The spokesperson for Mexico’s president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), Jesus Ramirez, confirmed the incoming government, which will take office on Dec. 1, will “look South,” bringing hope to the project of Latin American integration.
In an exclusive interview with Argentina’s Pagina 12, Ramirez spoke to Sofia Solari about the country’s diplomatic and commercial relations with the United States, Mexico’s economy, the war against drug trafficking, and the country’s future immigration policy.
According to Ramirez, Mexico’s dependency on the U.S. has hampered their sovereignty and decision-making capacity. “We begin a process to recover our sovereignty,” he asserted. “We’ve had an economic model that for 36 years made us look North permanently. Now it is time to look South because without a continental development policy there will be no growth, no solution to the immigration issue, or to organized crime.”
He also celebrated being able to stop the expansion of NAFTA, renegotiated over a month ago, through which the U.S. “wanted to treat energy resources, water, and primary goods as a matter of U.S. national security.”
About the current economic situation, Ramirez lamented the financial situation they will inherit from the current government of Enrique Peña Nieto and the fact that most public goods (including energy resources) have been mortgaged. During the campaign trail, AMLO said he would stop Mexico’s oil sector sell off to private and international companies, which was enabled by Peña Nieto after eight decades of state management. Lopez Obrador also vowed to invest in Mexico’s state oil industry.
“In 36 years of neoliberalism the economy did not grow... and the only development there was favored, above all, the agro-exporter sector,” Ramirez explained, stressing growing inequality in a country where “in the last years, the great fortunes of a minority of Mexicans who appear in Forbes (magazine) grew but we have greater misery and exclusion.”
On the war against drug trafficking, Ramirez confirmed the future government’s focus on the victims of violence and corruption. “Drug dealing infiltrated sectors of the police and the military, and that is what made insecurity the principal issue,” he said.
“We calculate between 300 and 400 thousand displaced people due to violence. Victims of a war policy decided in the United States.” AMLO and his cabinet have been critical of the U.S. war on drugs and highlighted the need to legalize and regulate drug markets to close the “window of opportunity for criminals.”
On immigration, Ramirez started by stating: “migrating is not a crime.” Under AMLO, Ramirez expects Mexico to implement an “understanding and respectful policy towards human rights, that means addressing the structural causes of migration.”
He also said Mexico’s embassies and consulates in the U.S. will be repurposed to work as advocates for migrants who are exploited in the U.S. as cheap labor.