Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

AMLO Update: More Signs He’ll Tread Lightly With Trump

Reading Time: 2 minutesLópez Obrador has reason to keep a soft touch with the U.S. after he takes office on Dec. 1.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Carlos Tischler/Getty Images

Reading Time: 2 minutes

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Highlight of the Week

Andrés Manuel López Obrador shows few signs he’s willing to unsettle the U.S.-Mexico relationship as he approaches inauguration day on Dec. 1.

His lack of criticism for President Enrique Peña Nieto awarding Jared Kushner with Mexico’s highest honor given to foreigners was conspicuous, as one analyst who believes AMLO would have privately opposed the move told AQ. Peña Nieto’s announcement was widely panned as tarnishing the award – and viewed by some as the outgoing administration’s final act of pandering to Donald Trump.

The announcement came days after the Washington Post reported that AMLO’s team had come to an understanding on migration policy that would keep Central American asylum seekers in Mexico while their claims are processed in the U.S. Though transition officials later said that no such agreement had been finalized, their openness to a deal on a potentially unpopular measure is in keeping with other steps taken during the transition, such as AMLO’s push for a NAFTA replacement deal, that suggest he doesn’t want conflict with the U.S. to distract from his policy priorities.

What they’re saying: Arturo Sarukhan discusses the remaining potential for conflict over immigration in this podcast from AS/COAThe Atlantic on Trump and AMLO’s “odd economic marriage”; Alfredo Corchado writes that AMLO’s honeymoon with Trump will be “short and sweet, if it happens at all.”

Checks and Balances?

AMLO’s plan to install a delegate to keep an eye on spending in each of Mexico’s states continues to inspire controversy. On Nov. 24, opposition parties in Congress said they’d try to have the proposal declared unconstitutional, after the Senate last week approved legislation to create the position. On Tuesday the Senate proposal was also approved in the lower house. 

The bill brought renewed criticism from state governors whose spending plans could be affected by the so-called super-delegates. Among those to voice their objections was Jalisco’s Enrique Alfaro, who said that if states and municipalities didn’t speak out against centralized control, their “voices could be erased forever.” 

The reaction suggests AMLO’s reach may indeed have its limits. Morena legislators this week also failed to pass key portions of a bill to end immunity from prosecution for public officials, including the president, which AMLO supports. Absences and abstentions from ostensible Morena allies hurt the bill’s chances. 

What they’re saying: How Jalisco could become a center of opposition to AMLO; The Economist says AMLO’s power and popularity mean he’ll have no excuses for failure.


The traditional presidential residence at Los Pinos will open to the public as a cultural center starting on inauguration day. Dignitaries from over 25 countries are expected to attend AMLO’s swearing-in ceremony, including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro, and Ivanka Trump. 

major discovery could help with AMLO’s plans to revive oil and gas production at state-run oil firm Pemex. 

Gerardo Esquivel, who AMLO had previously tapped as undersecretary for spending, will instead be his second pick to join the Bank of Mexico’s board of directors. Several other economic and foreign policy appointments were also announced this week. 

AMLO’s most recent public consultation resulted in approval for all 10 measures proposed by the incoming government. His plan for a tourist train in southeast Mexico received the lowest number of yes votes, with 89.9 percent in favor.  

Quote of the Week

“What has always saved us has been our culture.”

AMLO on Monday presented details for the drafting of his “moral constitution,” a document he says will serve to guide the values of the country.  

Russell is AQ’s correspondent in Mexico City


Benjamin Russell is a writer based in Los Angeles and Mexico City, and a former editor of AQ.

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Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
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