The pressures on AMLO

December 5, 2018

On December 1, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) was inaugurated as Mexico’s new president. After two stolen elections, AMLO and his new center-left party, the Movement of National Regeneration (MORENA), were able to overcome smear campaigns, intimidation and electoral fraud, and finally ousted Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI) and the catholic National Action Party (PAN).

AMLO rides in on a huge outpouring of support for him from the Mexican electorate, which came out to vote in mass numbers last July. The transition period from the old PRI government to Mexico’s “fourth transformation” has already shown some of the contradictions, but also the democratic openings, of AMLO’s future government. Nevertheless, his new government will face many challenges in its bid to drive out corruption and improve the economic conditions of working-class Mexicans.

The following article by longtime socialist activist and writer Guillermo Almeyra discusses the main obstacles that AMLO will face and argues that the left should oppose his megaproyects that will have a negative impact on the environment and Indigenous communities of Mexico. The article was first published in Mexico’s left-wing newspaper La Jornada and was translated into English for by Héctor A. Rivera.

THE MEXICAN sociopolitical panorama is, schematically, the following: Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) will take over the presidency thanks to a powerful popular movement that lacks organization, cadres and program, but is guided by the will to impose a political-social change, ending the power of the oligarchy.

That social wave gave him a great capacity for pressure and, moreover, control of both chambers in Congress. The traditional right now depends fundamentally on its links with international finance capital, on its immense financial and economic power, and on control of the media, which, although they were not able to undermine AMLO, can still poison public opinion, above all as a political-cultural weapon of AMLO, since they are also his media advisers.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is inaugurated in Mexico City
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is inaugurated in Mexico City

In addition, there is a sector of the ruling class and even of finance that realizes that corruption, repression, alliances with organized crime, and submission to Donald Trump are unsustainable for the capitalist regime. This layer fears a popular outburst and is willing to cede political ground in order to continue doing business and monopolizing the Mexican internal market, which is why it accepted AMLO’s government.

Finally, a great magma in continuous evolution — made up of different economic, ethnic, regional and cultural strata — oscillates between, on the one hand, the classes and popular sectors that supported López Obrador and, on the other, the oligarchy allied with the transnationals and financial capital.

This vast small bourgeoisie, made up of small and medium businesses, merchants, shopkeepers and other owners, joins the middle classes — urban and rural — in fearing to lose its standard of living and adopting the values of the oligarchy and international financial capital. Within these reactionary social sectors, there are also the military chiefs and officers and the lawyers and financiers of that third part of capital that lives from drug trafficking, human trafficking and the sale of arms.

The armed forces recruit their soldiers and noncommissioned officers from the popular sectors. The officers, of course, tend to lean toward the order of the oligarchy, and many of them think like it, but there are small, honest minorities with a higher cultural level who are repulsed by the role of the police, corrupt officials or President Trump’s border police. As for the narcos, they cannot live without government support.

The popular sectors voted to socially transform Mexico. Spontaneously they tend to autonomy, self-management and decentralization to respond to territorial and regional needs. They voted for non-capitalist or anti-capitalist hopes. The middle classes, on the other hand, do not discuss the bourgeois framework or state hierarchies, and call for democratizing and modernizing measures.

The oligarchy does not want to give up anything, and the sector of the ruling class that hopes to continue to profit from AMLO’s government, seeks only cosmetic modifications, and is centralist and stratified, like the oligarchy.

THUS, THREE tacit programs and two conceptions of the state are opposed in fact: the decentralizing, federalist, communal, democratic and the unitary government, which thinks, like the Bolivian Álvaro García Linera, that the state must be centralist in order to lead (capitalist) development from above. The middle classes, which are not anti-capitalist, follow the popular sectors against the oligarchy, but share ruling-class values that also have some weight on the consciousness of the working class, but clash with their daily lives.

AMLO granted what he calls his base the important bridge with the left wing of the Teacher’s Union, the CNTE, to eliminate the neoliberal Education Reform and also cancelled a the megraproyect for a new airport in Texcoco. But he gave much more to the sector of big business that supports the reactionary Agrarian Law of Ricardo Monreal by naming PRI businessmen as advisers and granting them the construction of an integrated system of metropolitan airports and, above all, the projects of the Mayan Train and the neoliberal transformation of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

The latter is a rehash of an anti-Indigenous, anti-peasant and anti-ecological project by former Presidents Luis Echeverría and Vicente Fox that seeks to transform the territory according to the interests of finance capital, building a multimodal transport axis for freight between Europe and China, developing real estate speculation, massively cultivating oil palm plantations, and installing wind energy mills.

The Mayan Train is particularly dangerous because its current layout would destroy the main ecological reserve of Chiapas and the country, it would destroy the peasant communities and indigenous ways of life, it would speed up plans for real estate development and tourism which are harmful to the territory, it would give a death blow to Mayan culture and language, and it would give organized crime a great opportunity for money laundering.

Furthermore, AMLO’s decision to create new Special Economic Zones in the hands national and foreign capital — such as the one in the Orinoco, thanks to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro — would dispossess Indigenous communities of their right make decisions about their territory, and it would destroy the environment. Thousands of community assemblies should condemn these megaproyects while they are still on paper.

Further Reading

From the archives