By RICARDO CASTILLO
Pick your fighting cock and make your wagers because the birds of combat are about to engage here in Mexico. Actually, the kind of birds of combat I am talking about are engaged. Still, make your pick.
The political battle really began over a month ago, when Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) disclosed the existence of a movement called Ample Opposition Bloc, which in Spanish wields the BOA (Bloque Opositor Amplio) initials.
For the culturally uniformed, in Mexico there was once a very popular salsa tune called “La Boa,” which implied that everyone, deny it or accept it, was a SOB. The song names radio announcers, journalists, engineers, university students and “those listening know they are.” Mind you, the lyrics never say an SOB but those who listen, “lo saben, lo saben,” (“hey know they are”).
Really, the song is harmless and once an extremely popular satirical Mexican and Cuban humorous tune, but its days of popularity are long gone.
That is, it was, until AMLO mentioned the existence of the Bloque Opositor Amplio that was born without any members as nobody dared show paternity or maternity for the orphaned concept.
Last week, a group of 29 Mexicans who call themselves “intellectuals” (some are, some are not) published a letter in AMLO’s favorite punching bag, the rightwing newspaper Reforma, titled “Against the Authoritarian Drift and for the Defense of Democracy.”
It came as no surprise to see the names of the usual anti-AMLO suspects sign their names to the letter.
Among other issues, the “intellectuals” accused AMLO of concentrating the power of government in his hands in a move detrimental for Congress and the state governments.
They claimed AMLO “polarizes society in artificial sides and discredits organizations such as the National Electoral Institute (INE) and anyone else who does not meet with his political view.”
The fierce letter also called for “citizens’ plurality” to join hands to confront what seems to be the inevitable sweep by the president’s National Regeneration Movement (Morena) political party in the July 2021 midterm elections.
The letter had some response, particularly from political opposition parties that have been claiming exactly what the “intellectuals” say, placing everyone in a “defense of democracy” mode.
The letter did not go unanswered, particularly from Morena leaders.
Morena Party President Alfonso Ramírez Cuellar fully backed AMLO’s response (more about that down the line), calling upon the party membership to stick together in an organized fashion to prevent the return of what he called “overflowed corruption” and the benefits that he said many of the letter signees used to have, but have no longer.
Senator Martí Batres claimed that the intellectuals were “neo-Porfirians.” echoing the voices of those backing the 1872-1910 Porfirio Díaz dictatorship. Batres said the signees are the same people who backed former Presidents Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto.
“It’s a trap to claim there was democracy when the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and National Action Party (PAN) governed,” Batres said, “but now that Morena is in power, there is no democracy and that there is even tyranny.”
There was immediate response from the PRI and PAN, along with the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) , which fully backed the intellectuals´ letter. As expected, the now-diminished parties, nicknamed by Morena “the roaring mice,” found in the letter a voice to echo.
Even before the opposition political parties had joined the fray, AMLO had written his own letter answering his eternal detractors and signees such as Enrique Krauze, Héctor Aguilar Camín and former Foreign Relations Secretary Jorge Castañeda.
Also signing the letter were 26 more novelists and low-profile politicians, including AMLO’s former buddy and one-time PRD President Agustín Basave (who is an awful political writer, by the way. Yes, I’ve tried to read his books.)
“Your argument that you seek to build an alliance looking forward to the 2021 elections in order to gain a majority is pitiful and also assures that the Chamber of Deputies will recover its role as constitutional counterweight to the executive power.” AMLO said.
That was a role, AMLO claimed, deputies never enjoyed before.
Take your pick and place your wagers, the cockfight for the 2021 midterm elections is definitely on.
From this writer’s view (not an intellectual, by the way) the 29 document signees really have an uphill climb ahead of them since the majority are not professional politicians and the opposition political parties have very little to offer them, other than a mouse’s roar.
However, it will be a clean election. Let us see what happens.
The race is on – even without candidates yet.
Nevertheless, remember, come election day, what counts is votes, not how loud you can scream out protests. Sorry to inform that, at least for now, I believe that the intellectuals have few votes, little credibility and no political party in sight to which they can hang on.
…July 21, 2020