Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Leftist candidate distances self from Chavez

By Ken Stier
June 5, 2006

MEXICO CITY -- Aides to AMLO say that the candidate will govern more like Theodore Roosevelt -- featuring trust-busting and progressive taxation -- than like Venezuelan firebrand Hugo Chavez.

But Adolfo Hellmund, a senior economic adviser to Mr. Lopez Obrador and likely candidate for a senior Cabinet post, insisted that he was dead serious.

Tax evasion is widespread in Mexico, especially among the wealthy, and Mr. Lopez Obrador has emphasized his intention to compel greater tax compliance.

Roosevelt, who served as U.S. president from 1901 to 1909 as a Republican and subsequently ran unsuccessfully as head of his own Bull Moose party, "was not renominated by the Republican Party for more or less the same reason, and I don't think he was a communist," he said.

Previous Mexican governments have understood the economic drag created by monopolies in key sectors but have been politically unable to move against them, said Pamela Starr, an analyst with Eurasia Group, an investment advisory group in New York.

"If Lopez Obrador were to become president, he wouldn't be able to touch some of the biggest monopolists" such as telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim Helu, whose net worth is listed by Forbes Magazine at $23.8 billion.

"It's just impossible, they are just too powerful," she said.

But Mr. Hellmund said Mr. Lopez Obrador was not interested in a "witch hunt ... to go after the wrongs of the past."

"The ideal thing would be for him to be Teddy Roosevelt -- that's what I would try to make him to become."

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