By SILVIO CANTO, JR.
Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve heard from many of my Mexican friends about the surging violence south of the U.S. border. It is no longer a case of cartel versus cartel. Instead, the murders have spilled into urban areas, and the Mexican people are scared.
The abrupt decline in AMLO’s popularity in June is mainly because the month was particularly bloody.
In the first half of June alone, 650 murders were recorded between June 6 and 12.
Just on one day, Saturday June 8, 113 (violent) deaths were reported and another 191 on Sunday.
Also in June, in Jalisco, the cradle of one of the most powerful narco-trafficking groups of Mexico, employees of the Inter-municipal System of Potable Water and Sewerage Services (Siapa) discovered 11 garbage bags with corpses.
Jalisco reported 76 murders in the first half of June.
As a result, 60 percent of Mexicans believe that insecurity has worsened in the last seven months.
My guess is that the violence would be bad no matter who was president.
Nevertheless, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is president and is the target of the criticism.
The fact of the matter is that the violence will continue as long as criminal elements can walk cash and guns into Mexico without consequence.
We think of the human traffic north.
In Mexico, it’s the guns and cash going south that everybody is concerned about.
There are other issues, such as the economy and health care.
On the economy, it’s hard to understand why Mexico is doing so poorly since in the United States the economy is growing by leaps and bounds.
The two economies usually ride up or down together.
So why isn’t Mexico doing better since the United States is doing so well?
It’s complicated, and has a lot to do with AMLO’s policies (the cancelation of the New International Mexico Airport, his plan to develop a tourist train through the heart of the Yucatan ecosystem and his dubious efforts to revitalize a bankrupt state-owned oil company), which have led to investor jitters and repeated downgrading by the Big Three international rating companies.
But this is the first time that we have witnessed a disengagement of the two national economies.
Regarding health care, López Obrador has made some very controversial budget cuts, laying off public service doctors and health workers, as well as cutting off supplies for crucially needed drugs, including those to treat cancer, AIDS and other potentially fatal diseases.
All of this has taken a serious toll on López Obrador’s popularity ratings.
According to the report in the PanAm Post, “although AMLO’s popularity was already declining, it fell by 10 percent in May due to a 44 percent reduction in the public health budget.”
After just under eight months in office, López Obrador still has time to set the Mexican economy back on track.
The situation in Mexico could look very different in a year.
Then again, if he continues of the same path – not getting violent crimes under control, weakening the Mexican economy and allowing the nation’s medical safety nets to degrade – Mexico’s political and financial future could look even worse in 12 months, especially I the out-of-control murder rates continue to climb.
One way or another, one thing is certain: AMLO’s political honeymoon with the Mexican people is over.
Silvio Canto , Jr. is a Cuban-born U.S. citizen who teaches English at a north Texas college. He is the author of the book “Cubanos in Wisconsin” and has a daily online radio program and blog dealing with U.S. and Latin American politics, as well as sports and historic events.