Mexican presidential hopeful Andrés Manuel López Obrador made an appearance in the Mission District Monday evening, drawing a crowd of more than 200 supporters who welcomed him to the Grand Theater, now Gray Area, on Mission Street with cheers, chants, and signs.
“Es un honor luchar con Obrador,” they chanted, or, “It’s an honor to fight with Obrador.”
With two presidential runs already under his belt (both losses he contested fervently),López Obrador is a serious contender in the 2018 election, enjoying around 30 percent support t among Mexican voters. More than 11 million Mexican nationals live in the United States, many of whom can vote in Mexican elections.
“We are working intensely in Mexico…we have the important work of ending corruption, which is the principal problem of Mexico,” he said. Later, he added, “This is why many of you had to move. Because of corruption, we have danger and violence…We will eradicate it, and all of you will have the freedom…to stay here, or go back to your hometowns.”
The notion of choice appealed to the crowd. Asked if they would return if López Obrador were in fact successful in excising some of the corruption in the Mexican political machine, they responded with total certainty.
“Absolutely, we would go back,” said López Obrador supporter Nancy Rebolla. “We would go back to where we were born, where our families are.”
“Look at what has happened [in Mexico]. This is why people come here,” said Ramon Garcia, an immigrant from Mexico who largely agreed with López Obrador’s speech. “Everything that’s wrong [there] is because of the corruption.”
López Obrador also spent a considerable amount of time exploring the various ways in which the United States, a global power and wealthy country, suffered from a relatively low quality of life index — a fact he blamed on its materialistic policies benefiting corporate interests.
This poor state of affairs, he said, is not what Americans really want.
“[Trump] made a mistake with his campaign of hate…what the American people want is for there to be justice and there to be well-being.”
But López Obrador, while paying his respects to Americans, was there to show solidarity with immigrants, vowing to support them politically and socially from across the border. That’s something his supporters don’t see from the current government.
“The Mexican government isn’t interested in its people,” said Gaspar Dominguez, another attendee. “You can’t trust anybody but yourself.”
López Obrador’s progressive politics have made him particularly popular among younger Mexicans, which was evident in Monday’s crowd.
“Corruption is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s the only thing we’ve grown up with,” said Carlos Cabrera-Lomeli, an 18-year-old college student who grew up in San Francisco but was born in Mexico. He hopes to vote in the United States when he obtains his citizenship, but for now, he will vote in Mexico.
Whether López Obrador can live up to his lofty promises of eradicating corruption in the Mexican government remains, of course, to be seen. But his supporters are sanguine about his prospects.
“At least he can improve some things, with our support,” said Rebolla.