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Mexico Votes 2006

Jorge de los Santos
U.S.-Mexico Affairs Adviser to Presidential Candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Monday, June 26, 2006 2:00 PM

Jorge de los Santos, campaign adviser to presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, was online Monday, June 26, at 2 p.m. ET to join washingtonpost.com special correspondent Ceci Connolly for a discussion about Obrador's presidential campaign in Mexico.

The transcript follows.

Mexico's approximate 71.4 million eligible voters will choose a successor for outgoing President Vicente Fox on July 2.

Full Coverage:

Mexico Votes 2006

Blog: Campaign Conexion

De los Santos is a strategist and fundraiser who has worked in the public, private and academic sectors, both in the U.S. and Mexico. He was tapped by the López Obrador team to be the U.S Representative of the Campaign. De los Santos currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Arizona-Mexico Commission, for which he is co-chair of the government affairs committee. He is also a board member of the Economic Council of the State of Sinaloa in Mexico and is a John C. Whitehead Fellow of the New York based Foreign Policy Association.

Programming notes:

Arturo Sarukhan, campaign adviser to presidential candidate Felipe Calderon will be online Tuesday, June 27, at 11 a.m. ET.

Roberta Lajous, campaign adviser to presidential candidate Roberto Madrazo, will be online Wednesday, June 28, at noon ET.

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Ceci Connolly: Welcome to Campaign Conexion's live chat. Our guest today is Jorge de los Santos, a top adviser to Manuel Lopez Obrador. De los Santos grew up in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. He now divides his time between the U.S. and Mexico. Thank you Jorge for joining us.

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Ceci Connolly: Sr. de los Santos,

Before we get to the many questions from cyberworld, I'd like you to assess the race now that we are six days from voting.

Jorge de los Santos: According to the majority of polls, there is no doubt that Lopez Obrador will be the next president of Mexico. People are excited in Mexico. We have full confidence in Mexican institutions and know that there will be good days ahead for Mexico. Calderon and Madrazo will be competing for second and third place, respectively.

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Harrisburg, Pa.: To what degree is voter fraud a problem in Mexico, and what is being done about it?

Jorge de los Santos: According to a recent article in the Washington Post, the PAN and PRI in particular are using coercive tactics in this election. The PRD was shown to be the least, if at all, coercive. The study was conducted primarily by Alianza Civica, a nonpartisan citizens' group that receives financial support from the United Nations. We are formally protesting these tactics with the Mexican Institute for Federal Elections.

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New York, N.Y.: I have heard that part of Lopez Obrador's program is to build two "bullet trains" from Mexico City to the US border, as well as an interocean canal ("dry" or "wet," I'm not sure) in the south to supplement the Panama Canal, but I have not read anything about this in the US press. These are major projects, obviously expensive, but with enormous potential -- including in cutting pollution. Do you have any details? How likely are these?

Jorge de los Santos: Mexico's infrastructure is in poor shape. Lopez Obrador has announced large-scale infrastructure projects to be developed throughout Mexico if he is elected. This is similar to Franklin Delano's Roosevelt's use of infrastructure to kick-start the U.S.' development. Lopez Obrador has called for public-private partnerships and international investments to develop these large-scale projects that Mexico, in comparison with China, India and Korea, Mexico so badly needs.

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Puebla, Mexico: You say, the poor people first, but, what about the people of the middle class? What you will do for us? You have to realize that we are not rich and we need some help of the government.

Jorge de los Santos: Lopez Obrador represents a coalition of parties. We have individuals rich, poor, from the PRI, the PAN, independents, professors, and business people. Lopez Obrador represents a vision for Mexico. It is an inclusive vision that represents the poor, the middle class and business people. One example of how Lopez Obrador will help the middle class is through his proposals to lower energy costs.

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Ceci Connolly: To read more about Lopez Obrador's "Mexican New Deal," here's a link to a recent story in The Washington Post. Using FDR as Model, Presidential Hopeful Out to Build New Deal for Mexico

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Arlington, Va.: What role do you think your Web site and the Internet in general has played in the election?

Jorge de los Santos: Our English and Spanish Web sites have had visitors from the entire world, including China, India, Korea and Russia. This has helped Lopez Obrador and his vision for Mexico to be known worldwide. You can check the websites out at: http://www.lopezobrador2006.com/ (English) and http://www.amlo.org.mx/ (Spanish).

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El Paso, Tex.: I would like to know if Mr. de los Santos can tell us how Mr. Obrador plans to deal with the declining oil production in the Mexican oil fields concurrently with an impending disruption of cash sent home (currently #2 source of money following the oil production) to Mexico by illegal immigrants living in the United states.

I understand the declining oil production is due to aging wells that need to be replaced by new exploration, but that Mexico does not have the technology infrastructure or capital to support efficient exploration for new wells.

Muchisimas Gracias.

Jorge de los Santos: Mexico needs to develop its oil infrastructure. Lopez Obrador will direct investment of Pemex's revenues into its technology infrastructure. He is also planning to build refineries and will make sure that Pemex's operations are transparent and efficient.

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Los Angeles, Calif.: Mr. Santos: I am a big supporter of Mr. Obrador to be the next President of Mexico. The latest polls indicate a close race between AMLO and Mr.Calderon,with a slight tilt in favor of Mr. Obrador.

Since all candidates are prohibited from active campaigning in the final week leading up to the election day of July 2, what will be Mr. Obrador be doing to keep the voting public involved and motivated to go out and vote for a better life for all Mexicans, which means a vote for AMLO?

Jorge de los Santos: Out of 19 national polls conducted in the last 2 days, 13 were in favor of Lopez Obrador. Three had the candidates tied and 3 had Calderon on top. The conclusion then is that there is overwhelming evidence that Lopez Obrador is going to be the next president of Mexico. In the final days before the election, we will be encouraging people to get out the vote and encouraging the public to get out to vote.

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Washington, D.C.: Good Afternoon. I have heard Mr. Lopez Obrador mention that one of his major goals as president would be to invest in the economic and social development of the Southern States. Could you please give an idea of what his objectives there are and how he would accomplish this? Thank you and best of luck to your man!

Jorge de los Santos: There are 50 million Mexicans that live on less than $4/day. The majority of these Mexicans live in southern Mexico. Through infrastructure projects, public-private and international investment, financial incentives, and compensation funds, Lopez Obrador aims to reduce the inequality in Mexico.

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Bloomington, Ind.: Greetings, Se¿or de los Santos. I truly fear that the results of the presidential election will be manipulated in favor of the right wing candidate, Calderon. La Jornada, the leftist newspaper from Mexico City, has already accused the IFE of several irregularities. Journalist Julio Hernandez has proved that this Institute did, in fact, manipulated data. If Calderon is declared the winner of these elections, how can the PRD and all of us, citizens of Mexico, be sure that there was no fraud involved in the possible victory of Calderon? Would the PRD accept Calderon as the winner? Does AMLO has implemented mechanisms to verify that there would be no frauds like the one committed when Salinas de Gortari took the Presidency of Mexico from the hands of Cuauhtemoc Cardenas?

Jorge de los Santos: We have full confidence in Mexican institutions and there is overwhelming evidence that Lopez Obrador will be the next president of Mexico. In the remote case that Calderon or Madrazo is elected, we will accept the results of the election.

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Washington, D.C.: Mr. Lopez is a socialist. The question is: socialist like Da Silva or like Chavez?

Jorge de los Santos: Lopez Obrador represents a unique option for development. His vision cannot be compared to other countries such as Brazil, Chile or Spain. His plan includes left-wing, right-wing and center components. He is representing Mexico as a whole.

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Ceci Connolly: In today's Los Angeles Times, Denise Dresser has an analysis that suggests Lopez Obrador "may have correctly diagnosed Mexico's ills, but he doesn't offer the right solutions." She specifically argues that your candidate has not said how he would generate wealth or deal with competing political factions in the country. Can you respond?

Jorge de los Santos: On several occasions, Lopez Obrador's lead economic advisor, Rogelio Ramirez de la O has presented his plan. The plan includes multiple solutions and they have been accepted by many different institutions and organizations. Some, of course, have disagreed; but many have agreed with us that these are indeed the right solutions. Some of these proposals include infrastructure projects and financial incentives.

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Los Angeles, Calif.: On Wednesday on the last day of campaign what will Mr. Obrador tell the Mexican people ?

Jorge de los Santos: He will ask the Mexican people for their support and ask them to join him in a great national vision for the development of Mexico.

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Los Angeles, Calif.: Mr.Santos, I am a big supporter of Mr. Obrador for the next President of Mexico. The race is tight and some of the polls show him leading by a slim margin. Since the Mexican law prohibits campaigning in the final week leading up to the election day, what is your strategy to get the two segments of voters to cast ballot for AMLO.

1.The undecided 10% to 15%

2. The PRI voters to not waste their voice in voting for Mr. Madrazo since his party is Mexico,s past and PRD is the promise of a better future for all Mexicans ,not just few privileged.

Jorge de los Santos: We see a lot of split votes in many parts of Mexico, especially the North. We see that members of the PAN and PRI are voting for congressmen in their parties, but for president, are voting for Lopez Obrador.

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Tijuana, Baja California: Why doesn't the Amlo's campaign have a stress on the political economy that should be followed in order to reach the goal of 20% of income increase of the poorest families of Mexico? With what amount of votes do you expect to win this election? What will be the strategy to press for a fair and reliable election?

Jorge de los Santos: We expect to win this election with a leading margin of 5 to 10%. Our strategy over the next few days will be to encourage people to get out and vote.

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Harpswell, Maine: What can the U.S. government do to help Mexico develop more economically? Does Mexico receive any economic aid for example from the U.S., or other types of assistance?

Jorge de los Santos: Mexico receives economic aid from countries around the world. Lopez Obrador would like to cooperate with the U.S. and other countries to create joint investment opportunities for underserved areas of Mexico.

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Anonymous: Is Mr. Obrador well-known within the Capital Beltway? Any previous contact (formally and informally) with the White House and/or Congress?

Jorge de los Santos: Yes. There have been a variety of formal and informal communications with different governments throughout the world.

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Redondo Beach, Calif.: Mr. Santos, I think in the long run not only Mexicans nationals benefit from a better infrastructure but also Americans that want to retire or move to Mexico for more affordable living will benefit. How do you feel about it?

Jorge de los Santos: I couldn't agree more with you. In addition to Americans benefiting, so will Canadians, Europeans and others who visit, fall in love with and stay in Mexico.

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Detroit, Mich.: I would hazard to guess that most U.S. citizens would be supportive of any candidate in your presidential elections that refrains from telling us what we can and can't do with our borders. How does your candidate stand on this issue?

Jorge de los Santos: Lopez Obrador has promoted mutual respect and independence. He would like to raise the bar of conversations between Mexico and the U.S.

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Los Angeles, Calif.: Mr. Santos, Where will Mr. Obrador hold the the inaugural Gala, if at all knowing his frugal life style, and if de does how some of us hard and dedicated supporters get invited? Will it be Los Pinos?

Jorge de los Santos: Thank you for the question. That's going to be a great evening. Lopez Obrador has said that he will not move into Los Pinos. He is trying to do his best to reduce unnecessary expenditures, as an example of Mexican frugality.

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Phoenix, Ariz.: How will AMLO's charisma help him accomplish more in Mexico than Fox, who has proven to be a lackluster president?

Jorge de los Santos: Lopez Obrador is a proven negotiator. In Mexico City, as mayor, he had an opposition congress, but was still able to accomplish many reforms, including infrastructure and financial programs.

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Ceci Connolly: On behalf of Campaign Conexion, thanks to Jorge de los Santos for being so generous with his time so late in the campaign. We will have representatives of each of the major party candidates live on Campaign Conexion as well as comprehensive coverage of this vitally important election.

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Ceci Connolly: We are nearing the end of our hour. As a final question, I'd like to ask Sr. de los Santos about the next six days. Can you tell us about the candidate's final campaign plans and what will he do Thursday - Sunday when formal campaigning is prohibited?

Jorge de los Santos: In the last 16 days, Lopez Obrador has been visiting two states per day. On Wednesday, he will hold a large event in Mexico City and close the campaign. After that, he will spend the remaining time with his family, including his three sons, and possibly he'll play some baseball - his favorite sport.

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Ceci Connolly: Thanks again to everyone and adios for now.

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