By RICARDO CASTILLO
The coronavirus pandemic, besides death and isolation, has brought about a political battle that Mexicans surely don’t need at this moment. Some, however, want it and see the pandemic as the right moment to carry it out.
It makes sense to think that stopping the spread of the Covid-19 virus must be the top priority. Definitely, at this point, the Mexican government is concentrating on dealing with it and most Mexicans wish the government well because the novel coronavirus can infect everyone if not controlled. The only way to do that is — and there is no other way — through isolation of individuals by keeping a “healthy distance” and being ready with hospitals and beds to take care of the sick.
There is, however, a segment of the population using this moment to do politics and promote the unthinkable in the still-young Mexican democracy by toppling through force the administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) with the help of the Mexican armed forces.
Fortunately, for now, the proponents of a coup are in the minority, and at this stage in history, there is no way that their wish can come true. Still, there is nothing to stop them from trying. Also, they now have the internet and social media to spur their cause, and that is what is happening.
Some respectable pundits see a polarization of classes. It’s hard to believe that they are just seeing it now. It’s been there for years and it became evident in the July 2018 presidential election that Mexico is not merely divided, but pulverized into tiny groups that for now can do little beyond screaming their discrepancy and disgust with AMLO’s regime.
But they can’t help it either because the electoral majority voted for the president and, as this writer has noted before, AMLO is carrying out the programs he outlined during his campaign, and in the eyes of those who voted for him, the man is on the right track.
In the 2018 election, AMLO won with a whopping majority of 53 percent of the vote, representing over 30 million registered voters.
Administration opponents, however, are claiming that this is not a show of majority because the nation has 130 million inhabitants and AMLO is now governing for that 30 million voters and leaving out the rest of the population, which is 100 million citizens, and that that is the true majority.
What these AMLO adversaries forget in their accounting is that the nation has a neat and quaint electoral system with different political parties representing ideological segments of the population. The electoral system is barely 27 years old, but after the clean 2018 election, it is now considered mature and secure.
Naturally, accepting electoral results is a sign of democratic maturity, but it is becoming evident that a minority in the nation have not reached that type of maturity. Their goal is to oust AMLO in whatever way possible, including violence.
The reason this is the exact wrong time to wield this kind of thinking is not only the threat of the pandemic itself – which is now in full swing – but also because the coup proponents are miscalculating AMLO’s powers.
First, he arrived to power unquestionably elected by the people. Once elected, AMLO – who had attacked the Army and the Navy performance in their gory war against drugs under past presidents – selected military leaders who have pleaded their allegiances to him, and — hear me out — AMLO has the backing of over 200,000 soldiers. From this point of view, those who wish to turn the Armed Forces against AMLO are committing a very serious and dangerous error.
Second, the political party AMLO founded in 2014, the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), is in control of both chambers of Congress – the House of Deputies and the Senate – who see AMLO as their undisputed leader. And they have proven it by passing all the bills the president has sent their way. Toppling Congress looks now like an impossibility.
Among the bills Congress passed for AMLO there is the one for cancelling the mandate of the president in turn. It was AMLO’s electoral promise and he kept his word, just as he is carrying out as best as the current situation permits the rest of this promises. Please check out my article in Pulse News Mexico called “AMLO, a President with a One-Track Mind”).
But in the Mexican democratic system there are still two ways that AMLO’s opponents can oust him. The first one will come on 2022, when there will be a referendum for AMLO to resign or stay in power. This will be a democratic facilitator for opponents to get rid of him, or not, if AMLO gets a majority.
Otherwise, the 2024 presidential election will surely bring an end to AMLO’s legal six-year mandate.
So the minority of desperadoes do have a chance to get their way, but it must be done democratically, because now, unlike in the past history of Mexico, there is an ample segment of the population (80 million registered voters) who deem that the only way for the nation is the democratic one.