By RICARDO CASTILLO
Like in all news stories, if one does take them at face value, they can have several meanings. For instance, the mass demonstration on Saturday, May 30, to “repudiate the leadership” of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) can be interpreted from several points of view.
First, the number and size of the marches, which in all cases, were rather vehicle cavalcades “cruising” on a Saturday afternoon. Did they happen, as leftist daily La Jornada claimed, in “21 cities,” or were they held in 70 cities, as conservative publications claimed? The in between difference is so big any guess would be wrong, but take your pick.
Then there’s the size of each of them. Definitely the largest caravan was in Mexico City, where some – maybe more, but not less – 1,200 vehicles rolled from Avenida Reforma to the Zocalo to slap AMLO with big signs demanding his resignation.
But in Cancun, where AMLO was on Monday, June 1, there was only one woman with a sign – and she was the demonstration. As for the rest, whether they happened in 25 or 70 cities, it doesn’t matter. They did not amount to more than a few thousand people “fed up” with AMLO’s mandate.
I mention size and conglomeration because in politics — and particularly in a well-articulated democracy in Mexico — size and number count. The backers and participants of this particular demonstration, in my tally, have a long way to go even to be considered as potential competitors.
The demonstration was organized by the National Anti-AMLO Front (Frena). whose visible leader is Pedro Luis Martin Bringas, who last week was dropped by the Soriana supermarket chain from its board of directors because his politicking was seen as harmful to a competitive chain.
As for the language the protesters used, suffice it to show the picture reproduced in Pulse News Mexico claiming AMLO is a “genocidal communist” represented for many middle-of-the-road Mexicans an extreme rightwing rage against the president. So the marches were radical in content.
The demonstration was Pedro Luis Martin Bringas’ (there are many others in the group’s still amorphous leadership) first real incursion into public politics, gathering a relatively scant response, but still, a response. But putting a name on a movement that even now has no apparent leader makes the group’s political competitors come up and launch a frontal attack from AMLO’s supporters who even laughed at the small size of the demonstration, claiming “AMLO did not bow down under truly real pressure.”
On Sunday, May 31, AMLO himself had something to say to the cruising protesters.
“Don’t feed on anxiety,” he said.
“The conservatives will have their chance coming up,” reminding protesters that there will be midterm elections in 2021, where they can compete to renew the Chamber of Deputies, when “the people will decide whether they want a return of conservatism.”
If that doesn’t work, the president said, they still have one more chance of ousting him, personally, from power since there will be a “consultation vote,” asking voters whether he should continue his mandate or not.
AMLO said he will not govern “on imposition.”
“No,” he said.
“I am not an ambitious. vulgar politician. I personally established the rules. If the people say, have the president resign, then it’s goodbye. But if they say, let the president continue, I will remain in power until 2024. because I am a democrat. I am not a supporter of reelection, but of effective suffrage of the people and the no-reelection clause in the Mexican Constitution. I cannot rule if I don’t have the support of the people.”
What’s interesting about this Frena movement is to see if its members have the support they claim to have and if they will follow the constitutional democratic path. They may even grow into a political party, under another name, of course.
The movement faces two problems, however:
One, if its continues to do cruising demonstration it is creating an upper-class-only image because most ordinary Mexicans, all with a voter registration card, do not own a car to join them.
Two, the Frena members’ time and efforts will be seen as a minority political revolt with high aims of ousting AMLO by next December, a bubble that will surely burst because democratic Mexicans, even if now repent of having voted for AMLO, as Frena’s leaders claim, know he, like others in the past, was voted in for a full six-year term.
In short, to the “anxiety feeders.” the message is short and clear: Hold your political horses!