Some say fences make good neighbors. Perhaps, but what’s going on south of that perhaps wall? For the first time in decades an authentic power shift now holds out a promise for Mexico. Money talks everywhere, but nowhere more than in Mexico City. The monied establishment Pri party is out and populism is in. He’s called AMLO.
Sunday July 1st Mexico elected a new president. That’s the other side of the proposed U.S./Mexico border wall. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took his place as chief executive of a very challenged nation. Much like our newish Grand Poobah, Obrador began working on the country’s deeply entrenched issues. So good so far.
Of course these issues are endemic political corruption, the highest homicide rate on the planet, and a poverty rate exceeding 40%. What has he done? “AMLO” as he’s commonly known, promptly slashed presidential pay by the poverty rate, and put the Poobah plane on the sale rack. He flies economy. Sound like any other recent leader–say Pope Francis? Francis rides the bus.
“AMLO will be inaugurated on December the 1st. The omens for his six-year term are already looking worrying. Voters chose AMLO out of desperation, having rejected him twice before. Graft is riff, the murder rate is the highest on record, and more than forty percent of Mexicans are poor, by the government’s definition, and economic growth has been disappointing.”-Economist.
Statements like these require no evidence. “looking worrying,” to whom exactly? The phrase “…having rejected him twice before,” is known as spin. Elections are as often about simply choosing another candidate, rather then rejecting. Spin is riff here. Graft, murder, and poverty all predated Obrador’s election. Juxtaposing them with the comment of “…having rejected him twice before,” subtly implies responsibility. Innuendo is no fact, nor fair reporting.
“…a president with messianic tendencies.”-Economist.
AMLO is not only being targeted by political opponents, but also from the outside. “Mexico’s new president. AMLO’s errors. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has started to govern before taking office. He is doing it badly.” –The Economist, December 1-7. Strongly-angled articles such as the above exemplify The Economist’s “advocacy journalism.” Referring to itself as a “paper” the UK-based weekly makes no bones about it’s agenda. Globalism. But is the Economist telling the truth about AMLO?
A winning smile. On December 1 new Mexican president Lopez Obrador assumes office in the National Palace fronting the massive Plaza de la Constitucion, La Ciudad de Mexico. How much can he do in his six year term?
National politics in Mexico features three large parties, including the long dominate PRI, the PAN, and the MORENA, the party of the newly-elected “left-wing populist,” that tag coming from The Economist.
AMLO, as Obrador is most widely known “…was rejected twice”–Economist, prior to his July 1 victory. Subjective phrasing such as this pack the paper’s coverage week-to-week. “…recent economic activity has been disappointing.” Compared to what? “He vows to uplift the needy, curb crime, and crush corruption, but he is going about it in the wrong way.”
Mexican politics on any level means putting your life on the line. In the U.S. politicians only imagine killing one another. In Mexico assassination is part of the package. Politics there is big-boy stuff–yes, boy stuff. Check the record. Women need not apply. Journalists are also routinely targeted and left on the street.
Since Felipe Calderon launched a military assault on organized crime in 2006, more than 200,000 Mexicans have been murdered. More than 30,000 have vanished. During the election which brought AMLO to power, more then 100 politicians were slaughtered. Translate that to the U.S. Americans would be apoplectic over just one or two such political assassinations.
Calderon, above right, unleashed the military against the cartels to an unprecedented degree. The result? The entire country became a war zone, leaving over 60,000 civilians dead over six years. Referring to AMLO’s proposal to employ the national guard in policing, the paper states that “soldiers are terrible at police work.” History has clearly demonstrated that fact.
“Some of his plans for fighting corruption and crime are counter productive. Others are alarming. His cap on public salaries will drive talented people out of government, and heighten the temptation to take bribes among those who stay. Worse, he wants to create a national guard overseen by the defense ministry, to thwart criminals. soldiers are terrible at police work.”
Corruption in Mexico is the hardest of hardball. The bottom line there remains “Plata O plomo,” “silver or lead?” Those in positions of power have a choice. Cooperate and be paid or die. Regardless of salary, what civil servant puts his life, and that of his family, on the line to fight a sea of organized crime? Does that work well even in the U.S., where institutions are substantially stronger?
Fact. Mexico has a long history of replacing entire forces, in it’s attempts to battle corruption. These efforts have been employed on every level, national to local, police, military, and national guard. The result remains the same. Why? Stark, life-crushing poverty, mostly due to economic weakness, and entrenched nepotism. Anyone familiar with the country understands the incredible work ethic of most Mexicans. Nonetheless we get this:
“A president serious about fighting villainy would give more priority to strengthening institutions, not least by securing prosecutors independence from political influence, and improving state and local police forces.”
The actual on-the-ground complexities of these issues are absent, as evidenced by such pat catch-phrases as “strengthening,””securing,” and “improving.” Such inch-deep active ingredients contain no true analysis, thus have no resonance. Although the paper is rightly respected, such comments are employed in all their articles.
Comments like these are emblematic of a paper that covers the economics and politics of the entire world weekly. Can one publication cover the world weekly, and accurately? The paper goes on: AMLO’s alternative to the in-progress $15 billion airport, not presented, is deemed “unfeasible,” the plebiscite over canceling said airport a “farce.” Perhaps.
The former mayor of Mexico City has vowed to create a “radical transformation,” in part aimed at “eradicating corruption.” Many have attempted and none have succeeded, in what now appears to be the impossible.
Symbols speak to all, regardless of income. Mexico’s grand history is on display today. The colonial clash of centuries ago has left an indelible imprint; terracotta tiles, a grand horse culture, and ultra-rich saturating color meant for booming sunshow.
Mexico in Pictures–Slideshow.
No place on the planet offers beaches of such jaw-dropping splendor. Yet resort towns from Acapulco and Mazatlan on the Pacific, and the jewel in the crown of national tourism, Cancun and Cozumel on the Caribbean Yucatan, are intractably caught up in sprawling cartel violence.
“After AMLO said he would honor the vote, by canceling the[airport] project which is already 30% built, and into which $5 billion has already been plowed, Mexico’s bonds and currency plunged.” comment referring to the plebiscite supporting the airport project’s cancellation. –The Economist.
Is the Economist correct? Check the history of the peso vs. the dollar and find out. We did. Fact, The value of the peso currently stands at a 52 week high, a full five months after AMLO’s election. Is that damage?
On April 17th of this year the peso stood at $17.93 to 1 USD. Since then it’s been below that, bottoming out at $20.96 to 1. As a reminder; the fewer pesos required to match $1, the stronger the peso. The April $17.9 high came 10 weeks prior to the national election on July 1st. Since then, as the new president-elect awaited inauguration, the peso plunged by just over -11%. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is now president, and the peso stands at $19.94. That’s a “plunge” for sure, and”worrying,” just as the Economist stated. What would people say if the USD did that? Panic time.
All data as of 12-21-18, 4:59 p.m. EST. Sources; Tradingeconomics and Market Watch.
The national “Day of the Dead” or “Dia de los Muertos” is an evolved derivative mix of Catholicism and ancient indigenous mythology. The day is a time of remembrance and communing with passed family members. Santa Muerte also stems from mythology, centered on the duality of life and death. These opposing states are held very close in a country racked by constant violence.
The film “Sicario, Dia del Soldado” or Sicario(hitman), Day of the Soldier, depicts the hard realities within Mexican cartel life. Decades ago Santa Muerte was widely adopted by cartel members, as a means of protection from the very business they create and are victimized by. Once, members covered their backs in panoramic tattoos of particular Santa Muerte figures. The underlying idea was and continues to be, one of protection from, and power over, deadly enemies. Such enemies include rival cartels and the police.
Mexico’s people and it’s prosperity depend on a leader willing to break the mold established by decades of Pri party presidents unwilling to upset an extremely lucrative and already monied oligopoly. For decades the Pri party has reinforced their fabric of government corruption. Can anyone disrupt that? AMLO seems willing to try. In so doing, he is placing both his reputation, and personal safety on the line. Selling the lux executive plane is symbolic. Yet symbols often carry powerful import. Ask Pope Francis. You can catch him on the bus yo.
Santa Muerte imagery