Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the presidential candidate of the left-leaning Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), is still bitter from his narrow loss to Felipe Calderónsix years ago. He now trails in the polls ahead of the July vote. He recently spoke with The Washington Post’s Lally Weymouth about the stakes in this vote. Excerpts:

Do you think the last election was stolen from you?

Yes.

Can you win this election?

Yes.

You are about 20 points behind in the polls. Does Enrique Peña Nieto need to make a big mistake for you to catch up?

It is not true that Peña is 20 points above me. It’s part of the management of the regime. They have control of the media, with few exceptions.

The PRI has control of the media?

The ones that rule Mexico — they are also the owners of the television companies. . . . There are very few independent media [outlets]. The polls are like propaganda.

Do your own polls show another result?

Yes, that we do have a possibility of winning, with a very small difference in relation to Peña.

Did you make a mistake after the last election by taking your people into the streets to
protest the results?

No. It was the only way of avoiding violence. . . . I will accept the results when the election is free and clean. I cannot accept fraud.

You pledged to take the army off the streets in six months if you became president. How would you do this in light of the violence?

I would not apply the strategy of Calderón. I would look at the causes. Violence in Mexico has its origins in the lack of development and corruption.

Do you accept that people without jobs should kill others?

The problem that’s not really talked about here is that you require 1.2 million jobs per year to be created. In the last 15 years, only 500,000 jobs have been created per year. So from a long time ago, every year 700,000 Mexicans have only three routes to take: migration, the informal economy and the path to antisocial behavior.

But now?

We need a new strategy and we need to start by creating employment opportunities and giving attention to youth and creating an atmosphere of progress and justice. We have had 30 years without economic growth in Mexico. If there is no growth, there is no employment. If there are no jobs, there is no well-being. If there is no well-being, there is no social peace. On the other hand is corruption. It is a complicity between authorities and criminals.

Are the authorities corrupt, too?

Yes. In all levels of government. To confront criminals, we need to finish with corruption. If we don’t do this, there is no hope.

What are your views on the relationship
between Mexico and the United States?

I would like it to be closer, but based on cooperation for development. Now, the relationship is based on military cooperation. If we have work and development, there won’t be as much violence and Mexicans won’t have to migrate.

Could you tackle the big monopolies?

We won’t permit the monopolies. Mexicans pay more for what we consume because of these monopolies.

What is your view on opening Pemex [the state petroleum company] up to private investment?

No, we don’t want to privatize it.

Don’t you need foreign capital to make Pemex more productive?

No, because we have income coming in. Oil is the best business in the world.

What do you think of Enrique Peña Nieto?

They have manufactured him. The ones who rule this country — the group that has economic and political power and the power of the media. They control two parties, the PRI [the Institutional Revolutionary Party] and PAN [the National Action Party]. In 2006, they used the PAN. Right now, as the PAN is exhausted, they started to project the return of the PRI and they chose Peña Nieto. They introduced him to the market the way you introduce a junk-food product. But even though they have him in a bulletproof case, the truth is coming out.

And the truth is?

They want Peña Nieto to continue with the same policies and benefits [for] a small group.

And what would you do if elected?

I would have a government for all Mexicans — one that is not subordinated to any group or any interests. This is what is at stake at this election.

Read more from Outlook:

Interview with Mexico’s presidential front-runner

Interview with the underdog candidate

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