MEXICO CITY – Mexicans fed up with corruption and violence say their country is ready for a historic transformation in Sunday's presidential election, while others fear that the vote will bring a free fall in populism and the government autocratic.
divergent opinions are the favorite candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the once fiery leftist who has moderated his rhetoric and sought alliances across the political spectrum after two failed presidential races and led mass protests alleging electoral fraud.
Despite his new image, the 64-year-old candidate universally called AMLO still seems to trust more in his own sense of mission than in the rules of modern economics and still promises to wrest control of the country from the "Mafia power "against which he has protested. during decades.
Such is the level of dissatisfaction with Mexico's political status quo, historically high homicide rates and rampant corruption that even its rivals are trying to convince voters that they represent a "real change," at the same time who warn that a victory by López Obrador would herald an era of economic collapse similar to Venezuela and an authoritarian regime.
"What people have established as a priority in this election is not more of the same," said 30-year-old economics graduate Rogelio Salgado, who plans to vote for Lopez Obrador. "The point is to vote them all out of office, without exception"
Salgado analyzes the failures attributed to the outgoing government of President Enrique Peña Nieto: low economic growth, murderous gangs and a non-functional legal system. "Who wants a continuation of this? People are fed up," he says.
López Obrador has an advantage of 20 points or more in most polls. But he not. 2 Ricardo Anaya, a young conservative technology expert who is running for a right-left coalition, hopes that people who fear López Obrador will join him.
Some will do it, like Alfonso Ulloa, 33, specialist in natural gas in a government energy agency. Ulloa has worked on Mexico's efforts to open up its state energy sector, including projects to import cheap natural gas from the United States, and fears that Lopez Obrador will cancel those projects of economic importance.
"I'm going to vote for whoever is in second place, to take away a little strength," says Ulloa about López Obrador. "The important thing is to keep the economy running, and I'm afraid that López Obrador will ruin it."
Third for the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party is José Antonio Meade, who promises a firm hand and experience. That counts for something in a country that faces constant and unpredictable challenges from the president of the United States, Donald Trump. Meade also has the well-oiled machine to get out of the party vote of almost 90 years, which has spent a total of 77 years in power.
But it is corruption that has defined the debate until now.
López Obrador criticizes what he calls an unholy alliance of business leaders with corrupt politicians that has bled Mexico to death and promises to break that relationship in a historic national transformation, just as President Benito Juarez broke the Roman Catholic Church by sticking to the economy of the country in the 1850s.
"We are going to end corruption," Lopez Obrador told a cheering crowd last week outside of Mexico City. "For the good of all, the poor come first"
Anaya goes further, saying that she has been directly attacked by the government, which leaked details of a money laundering investigation against her, and has promised to bring Peña Nieto to justice.
"Do you know why the Peña Nieto regime attacked us?" Anaya asked a crowd in Mexico City. "It's because they fear us, and rightly so, because when I'm president of Mexico there will be a special prosecutor who will investigate Enrique Peña Nieto and his participation in corruption scandals."
The split is important: since Mexico's first democratic democracy transition in 2000, Anaya's Conservative National Action Party has governed hand in hand with the Institutional Revolutionary Party, voting through market-oriented economic reforms.
López Obrador harshly criticized the alliance of the two parties in his two previous careers for the Presidency, and he paints them as the same.
Now, in his third race, Lopez Obrador's time seems to have arrived. The market-oriented economic policy has provided annual growth of only 1.3%, and Mexicans were outraged when the first lady Angélica Rivera was caught buying a mansion from a favored government contractor.
So great is López Obrador's leadership in the attention polls that he is focusing on whether his relatively new Morena party can get a majority in Congress.
Once angry, López Obrador has become more playful. When the opponents accused him of benefiting from the Russian meddling in the campaign, he called himself "Andrés Manuelovich" and filmed a video near the sea, saying he was waiting for the Russians to give him gold.
He has promised a "radical transformation" ", but at least according to his main adviser, businessman Alfonso Romo, his economic policy would be quite moderate.
" We do not want deficits, we do not want new debts, "said Romo "I think we're in the right position, in the middle."
While separations of US officials of migrant children from their parents have recently grabbed headlines, immigration has not figured as a problem in Mexico's elections. The three main candidates share the commitment to defend Mexican migrants in the US, despite the very limited means at their disposal to do so.
Perhaps the most immediate problem in Mexico is violence. of homicides in the country could reach almost 25 per 100,000 inhabitants by the end of this year, and none of the candidates has presented credible or specific proposals on how to reform the police or improve the application of the law.
The proposals have varied from the strange – independent candidate Jaime Rodríguez wants to cut off the hand of the public servants who steal – to the maddeningly vague: López Obrador expressed the idea of an "amnesty" that the advisors say can mean an agreement or pardons for farmers who grow opium poppies or marijuana.
"They have to do something about the crime situation, we're fed up," said marketing worker Joselin Valle, 31. Valle has not decided who to vote for, but one thing is for sure: "Proposals (about crime) do not make sense."
Finally, the three main candidates do not agree on who can best handle Trump, a very hated man in Mexico.
Anaya promotes her linguistic skills and her knowledge of technology. Meade relies on his extensive experience in government, but has suffered the current government's attempts to adjust to Trump.
López Obrador says he does not want to fight the United States, but some fear that a fiery populist may not be the best person to deal with another fickle populist.
Romo dismisses this last fear: "There is a saying that says two bees do not sting."
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