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A Fork in the Road for Mexico

The issue worrying almost half the Mexican electorate is whether the fork that the country just took will put it on the dictatorial and economically unsustainable path taken by Venezuela. But to indulge this fear is to misjudge Mexico's new president.

NEW YORK – “When you come to a fork in the road,” said the famously muddled baseball legend Yogi Berra, “take it.” That is what Mexico has just done. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, won a landslide victory in the country’s presidential election, gaining 53% of the vote – significantly more than the next contender. His Morena party and its small coalition partners will have a large majority in Mexico’s Congress.

The challenges that AMLO faces cannot be underestimated. He will need to address a combination of economic malaise and staggering levels of poverty, inequality, and debt, aggravated by severe deterioration of political and security conditions. The watchdog group Transparency International(TI) ranks Mexico in the first quartile of countries for corruption, and the crime rate is the highest on record, with over 100,000 homicides reported during current President Enrique Peña Nieto’s six-year term. Impunity rates are also among the world’s highest. Although a modern legal framework largely exists, the rule of law and political accountability urgently need to be strengthened.

The issue worrying almost half the electorate is whether the fork that Mexico took will put it on the dictatorial and economically unsustainable path taken by Venezuela. But to indulge this fear is to misjudge AMLO fundamentally. His National Plan, and his commitment to combating corruption, will more likely put Mexico on the less-known but more sustainable path that Uruguay has followed.

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