Mexico’s 2018 election is shaping up as a vote for economic freedom from the U.S

MarketplaceMexico will elect a new president next year. And although President Trump has now at least temporarily delayed withdrawing the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement, continued uncertainty over the trade deal and Trump’s plans for a border wall are roiling Mexican politics.

Former Mexico City Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador is one of several people who have either declared their candidacy or expressed interest. Others include Margarita Zavala, wife of former president Felipe Calderón and Miguel Ángel Mancera, Mexico City’s current mayor. President Enrique Peña Nieto’s six-year term ends next year. The constitution bars him from seeking re-election. Mexico’s political parties must nominate presidential candidates by March 2018 for the a vote that will take place the following July. The jockeying has already started.

Trump’s election has triggered a rise in Mexican nationalism. Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, a populist Mexican leftist who wants to reduce economic dependence on the United States, is channeling that nationalism. Though defeated in Mexico’s last two elections, López Obrador is leading in numerous polls as Mexico’s next presidential cycle approaches. He’s riding revulsion over Trump’s anti-Mexico rhetoric. López Obrador told Univision television journalist León Krauze that Mexico should not accept American military assistance currently provided each year under terms of the Mérida Initiative. The U.S. has delivered about $1 billion of military and police assistance to Mexico since 2008. …

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During the last several decades, the United States has invested billions of dollars in trying to help the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean deliver better lives for their citizens. This has meant helping them increase internal security by combating the illicit growing and trafficking in narcotics and the activities of terrorist groups, as well as helping them to shore up their democratic and free market institutions.

Unfortunately, in recent years, continued progress in these areas has been threatened, not least by the elections of radical populist governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador. These governments have instituted retrograde agendas that include the propagation of class warfare, state domination of the economy, assaults on private property, anti-Americanism, support for such international pariahs as Iran, and lackluster support for regional counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics initiatives.

We are a group of concerned policy experts that fear the results of these destructive agendas for individual freedom, prosperity, and the well-being of the peoples of the region. Our goal is to inform American policymakers and American and international public opinion of the dangers of these radical populist regimes to inter-American security.