By RICARDO CASTILLO
It took Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) 15 years of campaigning to win the presidency on July 1, 2018.
So, if you saw him celebrate on Wednesday, July 1, with a triumphal report to the nation. it meant that he is still gorging on the victory and rubbing it in the faces of all the losing political parties.
In real time, AMLO has only been in his presidential shift for 19 months, a month more than a year and a half. He is maintaining his popularity in all polls at worst at about 47 percent and at best over 60 percent, depending on the pollster.
This is very bad news for the still-minority that hates his guts and everything he and his faithful supporters, nicknamed “chairos” (“poor people”), stand for. Surely, they are grateful they voted for him, because they are getting government handouts, which, if tiny, are still more than they got before.
As an example of this, AMLO ordered the Treasury to distribute for “victory day” (namely yesterday, July 1) all persons over 60 an advance of four months of support for the elderly. So the seniors got a 5,600-peso deposit for the next four months, when they will again get their regular bimonthly payment of 2,550 pesitos mexicanos, a little more than a hundred U.S. bucks. Not much, you might think, but in covid-19 pandemic times, its means money they did not have.
This is something that irks the hell out of the opposition because his opponents saw it coming, ever since his election day back in 2018. They see it as a “populist” gesture to win votes because his popularity does not lie with the protesters who want him to resign “right now” and who carry out automotive parades against him, cruising the nation’s cities in their flashy cars.
Then, on the other hand, AMLO is fulfilling his campaign promise to build a new airport, a Maya tourist train and the Dos Bocas refinery, the latter two projects with the express purpose of reactivating the shattered economy of the Yucatan Peninsula. AMLO’s opponents have consistently demanded he stop squandering the country’s financial reserves and put an end to the projects now, but to no avail. AMLO has a one-track mind and those projects are a go, come hell or high water.
Earlier this week, AMLO complained that he has been the most verbally attacked president over the course of the past 100 years. He has unquestionably provoked his opponents, first, by eliminating the enormous handouts the media used to receive as payoffs. Not only were some of the media angry over this action, but they were also left hungry, making them, in AMLO’s view, a threat to the government.
There is, however, one big caveat to that alleged threat: Some of these newspaper, radio and television columnists have been shown to be corrupt, particularly on internet websites. So even if their anti-AMLO intent is ferocious, they have few readers and listeners, and even less credibility.
Today, the journalism trade in Mexico is nearly bankrupt. Newspapers in particular have suffered because, up until the prior presidential mandate of President Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018), the amounts of public funds distributed by the government as purchases of “advertising” were extremely generous, to say the least.
Consequently, on the national front AMLO continues to remain popular, regardless of media attacks.
Another “enemy” front that AMLO has is that of business organizations. They are upset, AMLO says, because he is not subsidizing their companies any more. This is particularly true in the case of companies that have had to pay wages to workers who have remained home during the pandemic. Now that entrepreneurs have finally realized that AMLO’s administration is not going to help them, they are resorting to credits based on hocking future sales.
Recently, Business Coordinating Council (CCE) President Carlos Salazar Lomelín summoned members of that organization to join a video conference that attracted some 5,000 participants.
Aware there would be no government assistance during the financial crisis, they began discussing what would be the best, easiest and fastest way to get rid of AMLO. Salazar reminded them that Mexico lives in a democracy and elections have their timing. Salazar gave them an answer the left them cold: “We need more than 30 million votes to boot him out of power” come election time, meaning, an overwhelming majority, which all the “opposition” parties combined do not wield at this moment.
True, the Mexican economy is floundering under AMLO, but given the covid-19 pandemic, it is not the only one in the world looking at deficit numbers for 2020.
Time never stops and AMLO knows how to move forward, but never ahead of the times. At this moment, he is readying to make his first trip out of the country to Washington D.C. to visit U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday and Thursday, July 8 and 9. Some of his opponents are hoping that he will have a disastrous experience there and that Trump will try his best to look better than his Third World visitor. Others wish the Mexican president well.
We’ll see what happens.
…July 2, 2020