By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
On Sunday, Aug. 1, millions of Mexicans — mostly devoted followers of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) — turned out to cast their vote in a convoluted referendum to decide whether to prosecute the nation’s former presidents for their alleged misdeeds.
And even though AMLO touted the “consulta” as a “momentous experience” in Mexico’s democracy, in fact, it boiled down to nothing more than a grand exercise in futility, and an expensive one at that.
As the daily Mexican newspaper Reforma pointed out in its editorial column “Templo Mayor” on Sunday, the hefty 528 million-peso price tag of the unnecessary, inconsequential, pre-doomed and, ultimately, nonbinding referendum was a wanton waste of federal funds.
Reforma astutely noted that the money — stripped from taxpayers pockets by a mafioso-like Treasury Secretariat that uses fiscal intimidation practices that would have put the likes of Joseph McCarthy to shame — could have been used to purchase 1,353,846 Pfizer covid-19 vaccines, or to pay out the government’s much-promised-but-barely-materialized pensions for 207,058 elderly Mexicans.
But instead, the money went to yet another of AMLO’s endless parades of grand public spectacles with plenty of fanfare and nothing of substance.
As Mexican political analyst Denise Dresser observed in her Americas Quarterly article last week, AMLO and his leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party disciples used the referendum as a political tool to distract from the administration’s own shortcomings in fighting corruption, reducing violent crime, improving the economy and confronting the surging national covid pandemic.
Dresser also noted that the referendum was a continuation of AMLO’s obsessive desire to focus on the past, rather than the future, as evidence by his adamant efforts to jettison Mexico back into the 19th century, or even earlier.
In order for Sunday’s referendum to have any legal merit, it would have required a minimum participation of 40 percent of the Mexican electorate (that is, at least 37 million voters), which is 5 million more votes than he received in 2018.
Preliminary polling estimates put the turnout at less than 8 percent.
Even Morena’s top brass militants admitted days before the referendum that they had “low expectations” for public turnout for the ambiguous vote.
So rather than await the results of the dysfunctional consulta, the party said that it had already begun to plan its own pseudo truth commission on the orders of their megalomaniac leader, regardless of the referendum’s forlorn failure.
In other words, no matter what the results of the referendum turn out to be, AMLO and his cohorts will go ahead with their past presidents lynching.
All of which should come as no surprise given López Obrador’s propensity for doing whatever he wants whenever and wherever he wants, without being disturbed by the petty formalities of legality.