By SILVIO CANTO, JR.
Although I live in the United States, as a Latino, I tend to follow Latin American politics closely, particularly in the case of Mexico. And in recent days, I’ve spoken with several of my Mexican friends and they’re all singing the same song: How did this guy Andrés Manuel López Obrador guy (AMLO) ever manage to get himself elected president?
Well, to be fair, he did win the election by a very large margin. And, moreover, the opposition put up some lousy candidates. Personally, I had been hoping that José Antonio Meade, a centralist who had served as both Finance (Hacienda) and Foreign Relations secretary under the previous administration of Enrique Peña Nieto, would win, but Meade put up a lousy, lackluster effort. Perhaps Meade was stuck down by Enrique Peña Nieto’s notoriously bad ratings, something which is not uncommon when you have an unpopular incumbent. As we say up here in the United States, you can’t beat someone with nothing! Sadly, AMLO had it far too easy in his bid for the Mexican presidency.
Nevertheless, AMLO is now generating some very partisan responses from his constituents. In fact, Mexico is becoming extremely polarized, especially along socioeconomic lines.
Allow me to offer up just one example, as cited by Victor Hugo Becerra, a contributor to Pan Am Post:
“The days go by, and the confirmations are unfortunately abundant. The government of López Obrador is a grand failure. It is a disappointment to many of his followers. The country will not end up in the right place if it follows the path of his administration. I hope he can change things (little, but there is still time to do so), but his attitudes and those of his collaborators do not offer much hope.
López Obrador has broken practically every promise he made to come to power: He did not reduce the price of gasoline or electricity, did not fight corruption (he has become an accomplice to it), did not reduce crime or violence in the country (which remains berserk, unpunished and uncontrolled), did not fight huachicoleo (fuel theft), and continues to chase after the areas near the Mexican refineries, offered to save Pemex (but his bad decisions bring him closer to the abyss, day by day, and with them, the country’s economy). He has not created more jobs, nor has he attracted investors.
The economy is stagnant at 0 percent growth, compared to its potential to grow at 4 percent annually, suggesting that the administration has already forgotten the proposal to decentralize its dependencies away from Mexico City. López Obrador promised to maintain a firm and dignified foreign policy against Donald Trump, but turned the country and its government into unpresentable servants who do the dirty work of the Trump administration.”
I personally think that my amigo Victor is overreaching’s when he says that López Obrador is doing “the dirty work” of the Trump administration. After all, what AMLO is now doing on Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala is returning Mexico to its traditional tough policy on illegal immigration. Also, Mexicans are not crazy about the Central American caravans either. But other than that, Victor is right on.
The López Obrador administration has failed to take advantage of the amazingly booming U.S. economy. Based on any historical standard, Mexico should be booming as well, given its traditional relationship with the United States. Mexico has always shown growth when the United States has grown, and the U.S. economy is growing, but the Mexican economy is not.
As for the charges of corruption, Victor raises a point that I’ve heard from many Mexican friends: They hear that the president’s spiel that he wants to do away with corruption, but fear that it may be all talk.
What does all this trouble south of the border mean for the United States? For one thing, it ensures that Trump will have the upper hand the next time that the two leaders sit down to talk about this or that. In other words, as AMLO’s dream of a more equitable nation with a solid and social and financial footing becomes ever-more unattainable, López Obrador is becoming more dependent on Trump for his own political security, especially if he wants to get the Mexican economy growing again.
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.