MEXICO CITY — Mexico's new leftist leader —long branded a socialist by his critics — is railing against big government.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Friday that his predecessors created too many high-paid positions on regulatory agencies.
"What did they do all this time? They made the government bigger," he said at a news conference. "Institutions and commissions everywhere."
Lopez Obrador said that the transparency and information access agency paid its employees as much as $180,000 a year, but got little done.
"What has it done to reduce corruption?" he asked. "To the contrary, corruption increased like never before."
The president, who took office Saturday, also criticized agencies that oversee pricing and supply in the oil and gas sectors.
"In the case of the energy sector, regulatory agencies sprang up like mushrooms after the rain," Lopez Obrador said.
Lopez Obrador wants to cut salaries of high-ranking officials — including himself — as part of his austerity plan, but the move is facing challenges in court.
He's also vowed not to raise taxes or run up the country's debt.
Election rivals portrayed Lopez Obrador as a budding big-government strongman in the mold of Venezuela's socialist President Nicolas Maduro. But the Mexican leader and his Morena party break with traditional leftist ideology in several areas.
Lopez Obrador places importance on religious faith and the family.
In the same press conference Friday, he said he would try to enlist criminals' mothers to discourage the practice of drilling into government pipelines to steal fuel.
"I have spoken about asking mothers to help us with their sons," Lopez Obrador said. "Mothers love their children a lot, and a mother is never going to accept that their child has committed a crime."
"So we are asking them all to help us, by advising young people not to fall into the temptation of crime."