By RICARDO CASTILLO
If it’s Cinco de Mayo – in the United States, of course – it’s time to break out the tequila and celebrate. In Mexico, really, the date is just a faded memory of the 1862 Battle of Puebla against the French, who got walloped by a Mexican indigenous army – a minor speck in Mexican history.
But let’s not go back that far to wage another Cinco de Mayo war today. Even if there are no foreign armies invading the nation, Mexican “liberals and conservatives” are pretty much at war with one another today, with some restrictions, of course.
One weapon in the war is name-calling. Ever since Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) began campaigning for his post two years ago, he unleashed a relentless attack on the “neoliberal” presidents who ran the nation from 1982 to 2018, creating an abysmal social and differential divide of classes. With one difference, the “neoliberals” of today are the conservatives of yesteryear. while the so-called “left wing populism” allegedly carried out by AMLO is really the banner of the old liberals. Confused by this apparent doublespeak? Don’t be.
In Mexico’s current political war, there are definitely two sides: conservatives and liberals. There is really no difference with this war compared to the past wars in the nation’s history, including the 1862-1867 French invasion with comparisons that are indeed abysmal. First off, today’s Mexico is a democracy in which a majority of “chairos” (as Mexicans who favored AMLO are called by the conservative minority) have control of the country, at least – if the law is respected – until 2024.
The fury of the conservative attacks against the AMLO administration – at least this writer, who is not a political babe in the woods, does not consider it a dictatorship – is to a certain extent worrying. It’d been years since so much hatred – and believe you me, all Mexican presidents have been hated – has been spread across the country. It’s sheer psychological venom, but it is politics too.
The conservatives have drawn up a list of “failures” of the AMLO administration, which can be read, no more but not less, in its full extent in an article published by Pulse News Mexico on Monday, May 4 written by Kitzia Nin Poniatowska called “17 Months of Poor Governance.” The list of AMLO’s failing is complete and Nin Poniatowska presented it well. But her arguments are not original. You can find all of them in the conservative National Action Party (PAN) political pamphlets.
AMLO’s “wrongdoings,” as deemed by the “conservatives,” can also be found listed in dailies like “Reforma,” “El Universal,” “Excelsior” and “El Financiero” (among others), many of which just keep repeating the same old cliché attacks on the president. For instance, also on Monday, May 4, former PAN Deputy and financial analyst Luis Enrique Mercado, and a financial analyst, published in “Excelsior” pretty much the same set of complaints listed by Nin Poniatowska lists in her article. The point being, the plaintiffs are just repeating the same song.
On the other side of the confrontation is the AMLO administration itself, which, as the old Mexican adage goes about the guy who’s cooking up all things political, “has got the pan by the handle.”
On a daily basis in his morning press conference, AMLO keeps answering his “adversaries” (as he calls them) and tells them exactly what they do not want to hear: that the Mexican people voted for his “anti-neoliberal” political project and that he is doing nothing other than complying with the people’s mandate.
Curiously enough in the current “war” of words, the president’s political party, the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), political majorities in both houses of Congress have opted for a break in the bickering, so we may witness two weeks of uneasy silence, during which the administration has predicted the current pandemic will reach its peak.
But there’s no let up by AMLO in announcing and touting his pet projects. On Monday, he showcased all the advances that have been made thus far, namely, 6 percent of the construction on the Dos Bocas Refinery in the Tabasco state shore. This kind of braggadocio on the part of the administration only makes “the conservative neoliberal adversaries” more angry. And there is no telling what AMLO will tout today, putting more fuel into the already-piping-hot fire.
So the current battle we’re celebrating this Cinco de Mayo has two irreconcilable sides, which are the same old conservatives and the same of liberals of the reform wars (1857-1859), which led the nation straight to bankruptcy, just the way this one is doing today.
What the future holds for Mexico is not anyone’s guess. Good wishers hope that it survives the growing pains of democracy – it’s still a young democracy, in spite of being the oldest nation in the American continent – and these are really the birth pangs we’re feeling today.
Beyond that, Mexicans are living through the outcome of an election. The fact that the losing minority does not appreciate it is understandable.
But wanting to destroy what has taken so much work, sweat, sacrifice and, yes, tears, to build is not fair to the current winning majority.
Democracy is the only way, and democracy means patience.
But then, it is valid to do as Nin Poniatowska did, complain.
…May 5, 2020