By RICARDO CASTILLO
Notwithstanding that he will have completed six months in office come June 1, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) continues to deliver defensive speeches. It is important to remember that during his campaign leading up to his overwhelming July 1 victory, there were countless vicious campaigns against AMLO, accusing him of being the next Hugo Chávez of Latin America and alleging that he was on a clear path to turn Mexico into another Venezuela.
In his latest speech at a farming community (ejido) named Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) in the southern state of Chiapas, on Saturday,May 18, AMLO once again swore that he will never become a dictator or a cacique.
After first appealing to the ejido farmers to make the most of his six-year mandate by planting trees and potential bumper crops because he was there to help them, the president warned: “You’d better do this (now) because I am not going to get myself reelected. I am not going to rule for more time than I am supposed to because, in principle, I am a strong supporter of the concept of ‘effective suffrage, no reelection.’ I don’t want to become a dictator, or even a cacique. I want to go down history as a government official who pushed for and strengthened democracy in Mexico.”
This sort of talk was fine as part of a campaign speech, but why is López Obrador still repeating this same message to millions of Mexicans who voted for him in the 2018 presidential election? Mexicans take him at his word, and they would definitely be the first to stop him in his tracks if he made any attempt to seek reelection. In my book, those voters who cast their ballots for him last year would do it again, were that to be the case, which it will not be.
Then, why the defensive speeches? The reason is simple: It is in response to constant allegations from his opponents. Ever since the 2018 campaign, his detractors, the conservative National Action Party (PAN) in particular, have continued to make allegations that Mexico is headed toward becoming a “new Venezuela under Lopez Obrador,” the same way they did during the 2006 election – with President Vicente Fox running the presidency of the republic. It was then that the PAN launched the slogan “López Obrador is a threat to Mexico,” which more or less hit home back then among Mexico’s middle class. AMLO lost that race to Felipe Calderón by less than 1 percent of the vote.
There is still a slur campaign claiming that AMLO will seek reelection going on. Where do those rumors come from? Nobody knows, but it is omnipresent in the social media, and now and then, journalists — particularly in the so-called “fifi” or conservative bourgeois press (dailies like El Financiero, Excelsior, Reforma and, of course, TV station Televisa – if you want to check them out, I recommend that besides reading their columnists, see the anti-AMLO mail these media receive) still sometimes promote this concept. But the real “volume” of opposition to the president – if you can call it volume, as opposed to those who favor AMLO’s governance style — is in social media, where vociferous opponents keep shooting live political ammo at López Obrador every day of the year.
In fact, considering that the voices like the one I’m about to quote below, there allegations have somewhat divided the nation between AMLO lovers and AMLO haters. Does anyone really doubt that the gringo, and not the Venezuelan, invasion is happening in Mexico now?
A good example of that comes from a buddy of mine (and perennial drinking partner), Gustavo Cortés Campa, with whom, during the past week, I have maintained a raging debate, claiming from my point of view that democracy in Mexico is working well (I am an AMLO lover), from his point of view (he is an AMLO hater), that there’s no such thing as democracy in Mexico, and much the less with López Obrador at the helm.
Here’s one of Cortés Campa’s takes – which reflects the voice of thousands of people on the web – about AMLO’s secret campaign to reelect himself.
“You didn’t understand, perhaps because I was too subtle,” Gustavo Cortés Campa, who claims I’m politically naïve, said on Friday, May 17.
“Hence I will come up with a somewhat simplistic argumentation: Does vote define power? Yes. So far, so good. What’s next? Does it define the exercise of power? No. Chávez won in Venezuela by a landslide in 1999. Do you know what sort of a wild card he inserted in his swearing in ceremony? I’ll inform you: ‘I swear as president in the name of this agonizing constitution.’ As you can see – well, I guess – he was placing the (Venezuelan) Constitution on its deathbed because he had plans to assassinate it.
“AMLO, during his swearing in ceremony, twisted the Mexican Constitution by saying ‘I swear to keep and maintain the democracy of the Mexican United States.’
“The Peje (lizard fish, as AMLO is unpopularly known) does not walk barefooted and keep claiming ‘I say what I think.’ That’s true. He hates criticism, he is obsessively repulsed by autonomous organizations. He gets furious at opinions and data that are averse to his idea of government.
“He claims he wants to go down in history as the best president Mexico ever had, and, by the same token, he furiously rejects a reality: At this beginning of the 21st century government leaders are far less important and have less power (than their predecessors), of course, with the exception of a few, such as those in Russia, China, Turkey … the minted tyrannies.”
The truth is like my friend Cortés Campa – I quote him as an example of the helpless and weak opposition nowadays in the social media, who do not even have a political party to reflect their views — those who claim that AMLO “is loco” and launch obscenities at his still-recently integrated mandate do so in order to say that the past election does not fulfill their idea of democracy.
And now my response: First, I do not agree with Cortés Campa as a whole, but I do agree that democracy defines power.Does it define the exercise of power? Definitely yes. If not, why hold elections? With AMLO, Mexicans voted for a strong and honestly anti-corruption-focused president with full executive powers.
But then, there are people who want us to perceive democracy in a different way. Let them be. But in my case, I am giving AMLO a chance to govern, impose law and order in a rowdy, violent nation and give Mexicans the peace and security we all deserve.
But the AMLO haters think otherwise, and would like to see him toppled ASAP. That’s not going to happen but … don’t they wish.