Which elections? Mexico. Which President? Not Trump, but Mexico’s current president, AMLO (Andrés Manuel López Obrador). 

AMLO is not on the ballot, but his party will be. MORENA, Moviemento Regernación, Nacional (the National Regeneration Movement) is the dominant party. This Sunday, June 6th, 2021, is the date for hot midterm elections.  In a way, they will be a referendum on AMLO’s three years in office.

The Mexican president is elected for only one term (a sexenio), for six years, no reelection, a sacred tenet of the Mexican Constitution since the Revolution in 1910/1911. Sunday is the half-way point, which will (partly) convey voters’ opinions of the recent past and their hopes for the immediate future. If he gets his way, that future will see more national government control of natural resources—an old Mexican political debate, at least since 1938, when President Cárdenas nationalized private oil companies.

Previous parties, PRI and PAN (the Institutionalized Revolutionary Party and the National Action Party), were like whatever translates as the Spanish equivalent for “Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum;” That is, when it came to control of oil and gas—both were very friendly to national and international business. (Rius, famous Mexican political cartoonist, named them “PRIAN”.) Those two parties are stronger in northern Mexico, closer to the U.S. border; MORENA is stronger in the south and in rural areas. 

Most Rio Grande Valley residents usually only hear anti-AMLO rhetoric, as their friends and families right across the border—usually very pro-business– tend to be Priistas or Panistas. But, be assured, AMLO’s strong left-wing rhetoric resonates among the Indigenous and the working masses, who resent the raw deal they have been dealt over the last seven decades. 

Many ideological believers on the left have their doubts about AMLO as he cozies up to the military. They endorse his support of Mexico’s sovereignty, but wish he would use his considerable legislative and communication powers to fight more fiercely against cartels. He advocates “abrazos, no balazos” or “hugs, not bullets.” They join others disappointed with his response to Covid. The Mexican death rate is the forth highest in the world (Johns Hopkins), so far, almost 600 thousand, in a population of 128 million. AMLO refused to take the threat seriously, advising only religious amulets as protection; that stubbornness delayed economic recovery, as it did in the U.S. 

On the right, none will entertain any positive comment re AMLO. He is the Devil Incarnate, for most of them. He, on the other hand, rejoins their criticism by hurling charges of “neo-liberals” (which, of course, they are). But the charge is odd and probably toothless; neither the Indigenous peoples, the campesinos, nor the working class masses understand the word. (The term implies one may be a social liberal but is, at heart, capitalistic or essentially conservative and pro-business.) 

The masses are not necessarily ideologically oriented, but do understand who actually likes them, and who (namely, the upper and upper middle classes) disdains them. Many were aggrieved AMLO refused aid to workers displaced by the pandemic (Carrie Kahn, “Largest and Deadliest Election,” NPR, 4 June 21). Still, a large majority of them will probably give AMLO and MORENA their super majority, come Sunday.

AMLO’s probable victory will be fueled by a “statist energy drive”–promises of returning control of oil and gas to the national government, overturning past privatization policies (Dave Graham, “Mexico President Poised for Win,” Reuters, 2 June 21). The victory will not be without its costs. Potential violence is rising and random examples of actual violence have occurred. Five journalists, in addition to various political candidates and campaigners, have been killed. Mexico, in certain spots, at the present time, has been termed “as dangerous as Syria” (Maria Elena Little Endara, “Risky Coverage of Mexican Elections,” Voice of America, 4 June 21).  

Whatever the outcome, this is an important election to watch. Not only Mexico will be roiled, but effects will be felt in the U.S., from the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, to the Washington D.C. Fair elections, indeed, Democracy itself—which has been developing apace in Mexico – will be tried and tested. Mexico could provide a model for the U.S. as we, ourselves, are engaged in defending our own Democracy against the looming threat of fascism.    

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Rio Grande Guardian columnist Gary Joe Mounce. He can be reached by email via: [email protected]

Editor’s Note: Credit for the main image accompanying the above guest column goes to El Universal.

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