By RICARDO CASTILLO
Opinion leaders in Mexico are calling the new path to private investment led by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) “crony capitalism,” claiming that now they will benefit from AMLO’s turn to the right, even if just a little bit.
It must be pointed out that during his first year in office, he did not even enjoy the support of what critics call now “cronies.” In fact, all of Mexico’s business organizations turned their back on him. They all still claim that the initial reason That they did not support him was the cancellation of the New International Mexico Airport (NAIM).
Regardless, now the Mexican investor community is more or less willing to cooperate with AMLO, pitching in to help the economy bounce back to growth – no matter how much, just growth. But it is still divided.
On the one hand, there is a group headed by the world’s fifth-wealthiest man, Carlos Slim, who, along with several top-grade organizations and their leaders, is doing what good businessmen do best: followIng the profitable money.
Among the associations following Slim’s lead are the Business Coordination Council (CCE) and the Mexican Businessman Association. Their leaders all have publicly supported AMLO’s investment programs, starting In 2020. TheIt promised $43 billion investment is close at hand.
On the other, there is the Mexican Employers Confederation (Coparmex), led by Gustavo de Hoyos Walther, a man already with a political agenda and who has surreptitiously tossed his sombrero into the 2024 presidential fray, five years in advance. In his daily attacks On and criticisms of AMLO, De Hoyos claims AMLO has forgotten the small- and middle-sized businesses, whose owners make up most of Coparmex. De hoyos claims AMLO prefers to pay attention only to the biggies,now headed by Slim.
De Hoyos‘ ferocious anti-AMLO stance has irritated many chapters of the confederation, whose members accuse him of creating internal divisions, instead of representing the best interests of Coparmex, with hopes for the presidential National Action Party (PAN) candidacy.
Some chapters of Coparmex, such as the one in Ciudad Juárez, are facing a brewing internal war front that may just shoot down his presidential aspirations.
But still, De Hoyos holds a daily attack against AMLO, which, should the president react politically, will only come to do harm to Coparmex members, who might just be cut out of the government’s still-profitable contracts.
This only goes to show that AMLO did not burn bridges with the group he used to call – during his electoral campaign – “the mafia in power.” These groups probably see the president’s insulting rhetoric for what It really was, an improper, but effective vote-garnering tactic.
In the case of the so-called crony groups, headed by Slim and coordinated by AMLO’s chief of staff and business representative, Alfonso Romo, the objective is simple: to gain terrain in government contracts that, even if they don’t offer – AMLO’s words – “leonine profits” received during past administrations, still provide healthy gains and are worth going after with infrastructure works.
During November, the several organizations backing AMLO announced they had detected 1,700 potential investment venues, and out of those, they had decided to start with some 143 specific ones, which is where they will be putting their money next year. AMLO welcomed their support, mentioning that this was the correct path to create a sound economy in which everyone benefits.
There is, however, much resentment left in the business community at large for the “populist” moves AMLO made during his first year in office, starting with the offering of handouts for the elderly, as well as his new government farm investment programs, in which handouts are avoided right along with subsidies. But those programs are a done deal, and they will stay, at least for the next five years.
During his 80-minute speech on Sunday, Dec. 1, AMLO made another promise, that, if given another year, he would start reshaping the economy in the form he wants it, far from the “corrupt” practices of former administrations.
Nobody can predict the future, but this much is certain, based on his first year experience, AMLO appears to be a pragmatic, a one-day-at-time politician seeking to make Mexico a more equitable nation for all.
The first step forward toward that objective has already been taken, even if AMLO’s critics are now bashing those business organizations which sided with him. AMLO called them worse and now they are only proving that the business of a businessman is business.
There are others, such as De Hoyos – not Coparmex as a whole – who could be brought into the fold if, instead of staging a political fight, they would represent the interests of small- and medium-sized corporations and get them the perks they are actually asking for. The time will come for politics.
But for now, for true nationalists, the big objective is to get the economy back on track, move personal agendas to the future, and let bygones be bygones.