Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador highlighted his campaign against government corruption and downplayed the work that remains to be done in the areas of security and reducing poverty in his third state of the nation address Wednesday.
Nearly midway through his six-year term, López Obrador remains popular despite stubbornly high levels of violence and rising inflation in an economy emerging from recession.
“The money that was stolen before now gets to those on the bottom,” the 67-year-old leader said.
Government support for the poor has increased, but López Obrador did not mention that Mexico’s poverty rate has also increased during his presidency to 43.9% last year, according to the government’s National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy.
Patricio Morelos, a professor at the Monterrey Institute of Technology, said López Obrador has maintained his support among Mexico’s poor, in part due to the $750 each family receives in government support yearly, “creating a sensation of greater comfort.”
It’s through the battle against corruption that the government has been able to increase social spending by allowing him to “free more budget for the benefit of the people,” López Obrador said.
The president also lauded the record amount Mexico received in remittances last year — some $40.6 billion — money sent home by Mexicans living primarily in the United States.
López Obrador distanced himself from violence Mexican immigration agents unleashed on migrants last weekend, saying his government respects human rights. Two agents involved were suspended this week.