In Mexico Leftist stalwart shoots for presidency, promising controversial amnesty

Leftist stalwart Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday joined the race for Mexico’s presidency, pledging to reverse government reforms and offer criminals amnesty as a new way to target rampant violent crime.

Hoping the third time is the charm, AMLO as he is nicknamed for his initials, registered as a primary candidate with the National Renewal Movement (Morena) he founded after losing the race in 2006 and 2012 as the candidate of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD)

“There is so much we have to do for Mexico to be reborn,” he told supporters before explaining his platform, which includes the potential amnesty idea which would be put to some kind of a referendum vote.

“The only goal is to explore every single chance to putting an end to violence, and guaranteeing peace for the people of Mexico,” he explained.

Rivals such as Ricardo Anaya, with the conservative National Action Party (PAN) slammed the idea as “complete madness.”

The candidate of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) Jose Antonio Meade said it was a “de facto denial of the legal process” for crime victims.

Obrador has also said he would call a national referendum on whether the government’s boldest reform — denationalization of the energy industries — should stop or be reversed.

He makes the Mexican establishment nervous with his talk of a new economic model and attacks on free trade, at a time when Mexico is in delicate negotiations with the US and Canada on a new version of the NAFTA trade agreement, a pillar of its economy.

His populist message has generated a swell of support in a country sick of constant corruption scandals and horrific violence unleashed by an all-out war on the country’s multi-billion-dollar drug cartels.

But critics call Lopez Obrador a radical leftist who will steer Mexico down the same path as crisis-torn Venezuela.