By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, better known as AMLO, officially became Mexico’s 58th president during a three-and-a-half-hour-long inaugural ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 1, which began at 11 a.m. at the San Lázaro Congressional Offices and ended at the National Palace in Mexico City’s Centro Histórico.
AMLO officially assumed the Mexican presidency at 11:22 a.m., local time.
After a lengthy “message to the nation,” in which he reiterated his campaign promises to support Mexico’s poor and underprivileged classes and rid the country of endemic corruption, López Obrador, who will serve for the next six years, officially took office and bid farewell to his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto.
AMLO’s extended swearing-in ceremony, which included extensive security (nearly 10,000 police officers) and mass protest marches, creating traffic havoc throughout most of Mexico City, was witnessed live and on television by millions of Mexicans, as well as 20 heads of states and representatives from at least 70 nations.
On Thursday, Nov. 29, the first head of state to arrive in Mexico City to attend the event was Brahim Ghali, president of the landless Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (a Moroccan breakaway republic recognized by less than half the world’s nations and not recognized by the United Nations).
Among other world leaders attending AMLO’s oath of office were Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro (whose presence was hotly contested by many conservative members of the Mexican Congress and intellectual community), Bolivian President Evo Morales, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra Cornejo, Salvadorian President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado, Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales Cabrera, Colombian President Iván Duque, Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez, Suriname President Desiré Delano Bouterse and Spanish King Felipe VI.
Representing the United States was a delegation led by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and White House Senior Advisor and First Daughter Ivanka Trump.
Canada sent its governor general, Julie Payette, and Japan was represented by Senator Hirofumi Nakasone.
Jeremy Corbyn, The United Kingdom’s opposition leader, also attended, as did Michelle Bachelet of the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights.
Chinese Vice President Shen Yueyue likewise was present, as were Kim Yong-nam of South Korea and Senator Hirofumi Nakasone of Japan.
Following the ceremony, AMLO left the National Palace and went into the Zócalo central plaza to participate in a multicultural celebration with thousands of representatives of the nation’s indigenous people, many of whom helped him and his left-leaning National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party win a resounding victory in Mexico’s July 1.