One looks to bring peace to his country through amnesty for past crimes. The other looks to end violence by relaxing gun ownership laws and encouraging indiscriminate police killings. Both are controversial methods, but what can we expect from the region’s most controversial new leaders?
With a promise to “govern for everyone, but give preference to the most impoverished and vulnerable,” Mexico’s new President Andrés Manuel López Obrador channeled prominent Mexican heroes such as Benito Juárez, Francisco I. Madero, Lázaro Cárdenas, José María Morelos, and Miguel Hidalgo—all of whom made it into the new Mexican government logo. As AMLO likes to grandly state, Mexico will now go through its “Fourth Transformation” by ending corruption, pacifying the country’s increasing violence, and transforming the country’s economic model, among other pet projects.
In Brazil, President-elect Jair Bolsonaro won’t take office until January 1, but he won his country’s vote by promising to “break the system” and put Brazil first. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is. U.S. President Donald Trump won the presidency on his “America first” campaign, although his rhetoric pales in comparison to that of the far-right Bolsonaro. Nevertheless, both Trump and Bolsonaro gained popularity as outsiders looking to “drain the swamp.” Unlike AMLO, Bolsonaro’s vision for bringing “peace” to Brazil includes opening indigenous land to commercial activities, denying minority groups basic rights, and encouraging extrajudicial police killings of suspected criminals.