Historic Change in Mexico?
Politics in Mexico and Chicago are similar. Former city alderman Paddy Bauler long ago said it best: “Chicago ain’t ready for reform.”
It’s been this way for time immemorial, the same true in Mexico. Newly elected President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (known as AMLO), representing the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) he founded as an NGO in 2012, then a political party in 2014, is up against powerful entrenched interests not about to change longstanding dirty business as usual.
Third time around for AMLO was successful, elected Mexico’s president after two earlier defeats, irregularities denying his ability to triumph – not Sunday.
Way ahead in polls, he won decisively with about a 53% majority over longtime dominant PRI and PAN party candidates.
PAN aspirant Ricardo Anaya finished second with 24% of the vote, ruling PRI standard bearer Jose Antonio Meade with 15%, and independent Jaime Rodriguez Calderon getting 6%.
AMLO promised what’s beyond his ability to deliver, saying he’ll rid Mexico of longstanding corruption and powerful drug cartels.
“I confess that I have a legitimate ambition,” he said following his electoral triumph. “I want to go down in history as a good president of Mexico,” adding:
“This new national project will seek to establish an authentic democracy and we do not intend to establish a dictatorship. The changes will be profound, but in accordance with established order.”
Pledges are one thing, cold hard reality another. In Mexico, Washington, my home city of Chicago, and most everywhere else, campaign promises most often vanish like the morning mist, dirty business as usual continuing like almost always.
Current PRI President Enrique Pena Nieto promised a smooth and orderly transition of power. AMLO won’t take office until December 1.
Much can happen between now and then. Longstanding problems in the country fester, including extreme poverty, unemployment, underemployment, deep-seated private and public corruption, drug-related crime and violence, as well as political repression.
These are major issues beyond the power of electoral change to fix – other than modestly, way short of what’s needed in Mexico, America, the West overall, and in most other countries.
After his 2012 election, President Enrique Pena Nieto assured Washington that business as usual would continue, promising voters “modern, responsible (government) open to criticism.”
“Mexico’s next chapter” continued its corrupted old ways. “(I)mproving economic conditions for millions of struggling Mexicans,” along with ending corruption and political polarization never happened.
Nieto’s commitment to democracy was laughable in a nation disdainful of the notion.
Dominant PRI and occasional PAN governance subordinated popular interests to predatory capitalism, the military, and bourgeoisie privilege – a legacy AMLO inherits, revolutionary change beyond his ability to deliver.
Like America and the West, monied and neoliberal interests run Mexico, ordinary people left out entirely. Mexican-style democracy replicates America’s. Wealthy and powerful figures run both countries.
Even along with coalition partners perhaps gaining a congressional majority, positive change won’t come easily.
Presidential and prime ministerial candidates almost everywhere promise leadership representing everyone in their countries. Things rarely turn out this way anywhere. Rare exceptions prove the rule.
Trump ran as a populist candidate, claiming he’d serve “all of our people…transferring power from Washington, DC and giving it back to you, the American people.”
Straightaway in office, he continued dirty business as usual, breaking every popular promise made, serving privileged interests exclusively at the expense of most others he doesn’t give a hoot about.
The myth of the anti-establishment candidate vanished straightaway post-inauguration.
AMLO is more likely to resemble former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva than Hugo Chavez – modest changes perhaps coming if he’s able to achieve them, nothing resembling Bolivarian social democracy.
A former dominant PRI party member, he retains some of its ideology. He’s largely business friendly, promising Mexican Business Council members he’ll support free market business as usual.
He pledged not to nationalize industries, nor interfere with Mexico’s central bank or energy privatization plans.
Modest change at best perhaps lies ahead, far short of what’s needed to meaningfully improve the lives of ordinary Mexicans, or end corruption and drug trafficking – let alone transform the country into a democracy for the first time in its history.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”