A Very Justified Fear
By ALEJANDRO ENVILA FISHER
They say that fear and anger are the two most effective motivators in mobilizing a society electorally. What the people of Mexico witnessed in terms of the government’s reaction to the massive Sunday, Nov. 13, citizens’ March for Democracy was a clear demonstration of what ended up happening with the way of reacting from the government of outright fear of social anger expressed by constituents over President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) congressional initiative to abolish the country’s most-important independent electoral body and replace it with a gang of members of his own leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party. The march was a deafening public cry in defense for the integrity and current integration of Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE), and the government’s fear of and social anger over the undeniable size and commitment of the marchers represent a combination of political uncertainty that in times of López Obrador had never before been witnessed.
More than a week of highly offensive and unjustifiable insults launched from the president’s bully pulpit during his daily morning press conferences were transformed into one of the biggest promotions of the demonstration, inspiring otherwise undecided Mexicans to join in the march..
The mobilization in defense of the INE became a national phenomenon, carried out in coordination in dozens of cities across the country. Although AMLO fled to his native state of Tabasco to avoid the opposition environment in Mexico City, the president ended up with reports of demonstrations throughout the national landscape, including in his own political backyard.
AMLO’s vicious verbal assaults against those who wanted to defend the INE were the lifeblood of the protest march and unified opposition party leaders with a shared agenda, albeit, perhaps, only regarding this one topic.
To top it off, AMLO’s personal favorite to replace him in the 2024 elections, Mexico City Governor Claudia Sheinbaum, ended up unnecessarily dirtying her hands — and reputation — by getting involved in the matter by having the Metropolitan Environmental Commission, which responds directly to her, decreed an “environmental contingency” that restricted the circulation of motor vehicles on the Sunday of the demonstration.
In politics, things are what they seem to be. In other words, perception is reality and, at this point, practically nobody believes that an environmental contingency existed and the useless restrictive measures that were imposed was justified, however real the pollution phenomenon might have been, when the extended Day-without-a-Car measure was decreed just hours before the call for the mobilization in defense of the INE.
The AMLO administration’s henchmen, who deny scientific evidence daily in order to promote their own unfounded political agendas, are now claiming that high ozone levels in the capital’s air “justified” contingency decree. However, the first consequence of repeatedly lying and presenting false facts is a loss of credibility.
The same principle applies to the Mexico City government, which has maintained a criminal silence in the face of an indiscriminate burning of fuel oil by the state-run Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) in the thermoelectric plants in the region, poisoning, not with ozone but with sulphur dioxide, the air of the city. The so-called environmental contingency that was decreed late Saturday, Nov. 12, not only lacked credibility, but showed blatant cynicism and was demonstrative of political fear sparked by the extension and force of the public demonstration.
It should be noted that Sunday’s March for Democracy did not take place exclusively in Mexico City, but across more than 50 Mexican cities. It was a nationwide movement and it was a success, both in terms of numbers and unity. And also because it shook the pillars of AMLO’s so-called Fourth Transformation (4T) agenda to the very core, creating a contagious wave of fear in his government.
When a government, its party and its propaganda apparatus resort to trickery to try to demobilize society, as the AMLO administration did in this case, it is because they are afraid and concerned about what they are seeing.
The surveys cited by the government and its paid spokespersons claim that López Obrador is the second-most-popular president in the world. Those very same polls say that Morena has a “comfortable advantage” for the upcoming governorship in the all-important State of Mexico and that it will be “practically unbeatable” in the 2024 elections.
If this state-diffused information is reliable, it does not explain the anxious reaction of the president and his pet candidate in the face of the March for Democracy in defense of the INE and in rejection of a reform that, when according to the official interpretation of those same questionable polls, the project has the support of 80 percent of Mexican voters.
If it were true, as Morena claims, that López Obrador has “overwhelming public support for his electoral reform project,” there would be no reason to resort to sorted name-calling and insulting the Mexican people, accusing them of being “traitors to the nation.
The excessive and vicious reaction of the federal government to the protest march points rather to an extreme state of political nervousness that looks a lot like fear.