By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
The very astute U.S. political columnist and comedian Will Rogers once quipped: “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”
Sage advice, and solid counsel that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) would do well to follow.
But even before he took office in December of last year, Mexico’s populist president has been excavating his own political crater with a smug and self-aggrandizing attitude that smacks of condescending arrogance and total disregard for anyone who dares to express even the slightest opposition to his leftist doctrine. (Just ask CNN seasoned journalist Jorge Ramos, who last month committed the unforgivable sin of confronting López Obrador with his own government’s statistics regarding Mexican crime rates, but then, that’s another column altogether.)
Long before he was sworn into power for what promises to be six years of mounting tyrannical rule a la Venezuelana, AMLO manipulated his political minions in the Mexican Congress to pass “legislation” that essentially wiped out years of financial and human resource investment in a half-built, $13 billion international airport project in Texcoco that would have become one of the most important air hubs in the Americas, bringing in much-needed investment and trade, as well as providing a well-designed replacement for Mexico City’s now decrepit and dysfunctional Benito Juárez International Airport.
To “justify” his whim to throw out more than $7 billion in construction and permanently soil the nation’s financial credibility among international investors, AMLO held an unsupervised and highly questionable “referendum” among his followers, asking them if they agreed with his decision to cancel the Texcoco airport and give him their blessing for nine other pet projects (including a nightmare plan to reek environmental disaster in the Yucatan Peninsula by imposing a tourist train to which the local people are dead opposed).
But that was just the start of AMLO’s capricious decisions to undo 36 years of his political predecessors’ (sometimes successful and sometimes unsuccessful) efforts to modernize the country and improve the lot of their fellow Mexicans.
Next up on AMLO’s hacking block were daycare centers, which allowed working mothers to leave their preschool-age children in the care of professionals when they were away at their jobs.
Soon after that came the collapse of centers’ for battered women and abused children, and, as a cherry on the cake, the elimination of 5,000 public soup kitchens that provided meals to more than 360,000 hungry Mexicans each day (and this guy calls himself a defender of the poor).
Thousands of doctors and other government workers were left unemployed simply because AMLO said they should be.
With a swipe of his pen, AMLO erased a decades-old presidential security system known as the Estado Mayor Presidencial, and turned the stately Los Pinos presidential palace into a public (but mostly empty) museum and plastered price tags on government fleets of airplanes and armored vehicles to make money to finance the hopelessly indebted Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) state-run oil company.
And, lest we forget, he also managed to have his dithers with the creation of his own personally crafted, part-military, part-civilian security force that has garnered condemnations from both national and international human rights organizations.
When even the most devoted proselytes of his cumbersome National Regeneration Movement (Morena) in the Mexican Congress began to question the wisdom and legitimacy of overturning the constitutional Education Reform implemented during the previous administration of Enrique Peña Nieto (perhaps the only truly worthwhile accomplishment during that president’s controversial term), AMLO simply decided to issue an “executive order” to overthrow the Mexican Constitution and nullify the national Magna Carta.
AMLO has, in his full-speed-ahead, take-no-prisoners, letter-by-letter following of the Hugo Chávez Handbook, dismissed and even imprisoned anyone who questions or disagrees with him, publicly mimicking them as elitist “fifis” and accusing them of corruption and other crimes.
He has consistently contradicted the findings of both national and international financial experts who warn that the country is rapidly moving head-first toward an economic contraction, claiming that highly respected entities such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are part of some bizarre global conspiracy to undermine his presidency and damage Mexico’s international image.
While every single independent and government (his government) study has shown that the incidence of crime in Mexico has skyrocketed since he took office, AMLO maintains that he and his handpicked new mega-army (National Guard) are actually making the country safer.
On Sunday, May 5, thousands of sound-thinking and civil-minded Mexican citizens took to the streets in cities across the nation to peacefully demand AMLO’s resignation, or at least, exhort him to start heeding the constitution and the law of the land.
The very next day, AMLO tried to show himself to be “open-minded” by saying that the protests were welcome and that the marches were a manifestation of free expression.
But even then, he couldn’t contain himself.
AMLO immediately added that those conservative protestors who had defied his word were ”corrupt and hypocritical,” and no doubt needed to be treated in “recovery centers” where they could overcome their addiction to corruption.
Translation: “It’s my way or the highway” (or worse yet, an extended prison stay without the right to bail on trumped up charges of corruption or graft).
Yes, AMLO is bulldozing his own political grave at a hypersonic speed that could soon lead to his partisan implosion.
If he wants to see his presidential term through to 2024, AMLO needs to stop digging.