By RICARDO CASTILLO
It may only be mid-January and it’s definitely freezing cold weatherwise, but the war of words in the Mexican elections is already heating up fast. Presidential “pre-candidate” Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO, for short) is deeply concerned that things might turn violent before the July 1 election day. The problem is, maybe, he’s got a valid point.
Two weeks ago in Caracas, Venezuela, several walls were painted with ads asking Venezuelans to vote for AMLO. Not only was that an oddity – nobody knows AMLO in Venezuela – but also it is rather questionable as to why would anyone even bother to spend money on paint to promote a Mexican candidate in a country where most people can’t even afford food.
But for Mexicans, the source of this dubious “publicity” is easy to discern. For over a decade, AMLO has by his detractors been compared with and equated to former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez as a pro-socialist hopeful who would lead Mexico astray the same way current Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has done with his now-bankrupt nation.
This dirty-war politicking worked for former president Felipe Calderón, who ran his campaign against AMLO during 2006 with a slogan depicting AMLO as “a threat to Mexico,” which finally earned him the presidency in a win-by-a-nose race.
Current President Enrique Peña Nieto also used the very same slogan in the 2012 election and managed to defeat AMLO by a not-so-hefty 6 percent margin. It is now a well-known fact that Peña Nieto and the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) pumped what appears to be illegal millions into that election.
But for the 2018 election – which constitutes AMLO’s third consecutive run for the presidency – things might be different. This past weekend, AMLO asked the elections organizer National Electoral Institute to check out a Venezuelan publicist named Juan José Rendón – better known as JJ – as the probable culprit behind the Venezuelan ads. JJ is a sworn enemy of AMLO’s candidacy.
As a side observation, AMLO has consistently been compared to Chavez and Maduro by both the PRI and the National Action Party (PAN) for many years. In fact, a paid Chilean word-slinger named Pablo Hiriart, who writes for Mexican publications, has been preaching ad nauseum that, if elected, AMLO would turn Mexico into another Venezuela in a now-trendy spiel he borrowed from both the PRI and the PAN of the “threat to Mexico” slogan, calling AMLO a “messiah” and potential dictator.
Recently, JJ Rendón – who lives and works in Mexico –announced that he’d do everything within his power and use every means possible to prevent AMLO from winning the presidential election.
AMLO said in a recent video that “a publicist with these characteristics is going to attack us so that I don’t make it to the presidency. The only thing I’d ask of those who hired him is that they watch him closely and not promote political violence in the nation. I have no problems with them implementing a dirty war. I have endured it for many years. The phrase ‘a threat to Mexico’ and the painted walls in Venezuela are (part of their strategy) because they want to link us to the Venezuelan government. They want to compare me to the now-deceased Hugo Chávez and Maduro, with Putin and the alleged interference of Russia in the Mexican elections. They claim I’m a messiah and a populist. All of that is not decent.”
Of course, AMLO knows that the source of all the dirty war against him comes from JJ Rendón and, for now, he is only asking that the PRI and PAN acknowledge that they hired him because, as a publicist, JJ Rendon does nothing for free.
Since the accusation of AMLO having links with the Venezuelan socialist administration is not new, on several occasions, AMLO has made it clear that he’s never been to Venezuela and has absolutely no links to that nation’s president or government.
From all the above, even an outsider can easily garner a realistic vision of the current political climate in Mexico, where although it may be freezing cold in terms of celsius temperature in many parts of the nation, the presidential electoral campaign is already scalding hot.