MEXICO CITY – Every September 15th, Mexico’s streets, government buildings and shops are draped in Mexican flags to commemorate the country’s independence, which is being celebrated this year amid hopes of a deep “transformation,” as President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has promised.
The left-leaning politician, who will be sworn in on Dec. 1, has promised to carry out Mexico’s “fourth transformation,” following the country’s independence in 1810, the liberal reforms of the late 19th century, and the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920.
However, as opposed to those earlier changes in public life, Lopez Obrador has said that the fourth transformation will be the first to be carried out peacefully.
Lopez Obrador “has created very high hopes and he will be evaluated according to those expectations,” Khemvirg Puente, head of the Center for Political Studies of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), told EFE.
The first electoral victory of a left-leaning presidential candidate in Mexico caused jubilation throughout the country on July 1, the day of the vote.
In Mexico City, some 80,000 people gathered in the main square to chant “Yes we did!” and “It’s an honor to be with Obrador!”
According to Puente, the comparison that Lopez Obrador has made between his electoral victory and the independence is a “political communications strategy” that will only be able to be judged at the end of his term, in 2024.
“Lopez Obrador has spoken of a transformation of every aspect of public life. Not only regarding the constitution, but also concerning the establishment of a new economic model and the elimination of historical vices like corruption and violence. Let’s hope he will succeed,” Puente said.
Historians will also have to evaluate in six years if Lopez Obrador is a figure comparable to the four national heroes that are portrayed at his transition headquarters in Mexico City.
Those four heroes are Benito Juarez (1806-1872), the president who faced an invasion by France and the United States; Francisco Madero (1873-1913), an early leader of the Mexican Revolution; and Lazaro Cardenas (1895-1970), the president who nationalized the oil industry.
Many Lopez Obrador followers will likely celebrate this Sept. 15 wearing t-shirts depicting the president-elect, though the official celebrations will be led by the current president, Enrique Peña Nieto.
At 11:00 pm, as is tradition, Peña Nieto will walk out on the balcony of the National Palace in Mexico City and re-enact the “Grito,” the cry for independence, which ends with the threefold shout of “Viva Mexico!” (Long live Mexico!), followed by a fireworks show.
Lopez Obrador will have to wait until next year to offer his own “Grito.”