Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One

A Crónica of an Announced Defeat

The Debate

The first of a series of presidential debates On April 22, 2018 took the shape of all against one. The appearance of a civil debate while Mexico is carved out to the greed of pompous and ambitious foreign and national elites was a white washed presentation of indifference towards the poor and hardworking citizen.The singled out ‘one’ would be leading progressive candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). The four Presidential runners took multiple jabs, hooks and below the waist hits. Nevertheless like a weathered boxer AMLO deflected their jabs not by ducking, floating or skipping his allotted time to respond. For him the best stingis yet to come later in the final round, Election Day July 1st, 2018. The following afternoon at a campaign rally in Ixtapaluca, Mexico AMLO from the ‘Together We Will Make History Coalitionsaid, “We came out of this calamity unscratched.”

The calamities range from scare tactics to repeated lies of AMLO’s anti-clergy tendencies by circulating fliers of the Virgin de Guadalupe crossed out associated with Together We Will Make History Coalition.

The candidate from the ultra conservative party Ricardo Anaya (PAN/ National Action Party), a trained stale orator attempted a first ring knockout aimed at AMLO. He entered the ring rallied up and ready to show his verbal prowess with flash cards and pictures. Confident he would come out as the winner, he and his trainers had mis-configured AMLO’s deflecting ability; to not respond to fake punches and keep his feet solid on the ground!  Anaya accuses AMLO to be a threat for foreign investors and a menace to the nation’s economic stability. His educational plan is privatization and have better trained bilingual instructors teach English. Deciphering his double talk focus on English uncovers his immigration policies which avoid addressing questions of equitability, wealth distribution, and the reinvestment in small farm agriculture as a form of self sustainability.

P.S. Candidate Anaya claims that AMLO endangers freedom of the press while AMLO’s life is threatened by a reporter. [1]

In the meantime the trailing candidate Jose Antonio Meade from the current traditional ruling party PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) stood behind Anaya using him as a shield to reinforce his assault on AMLO. Meade’s argument runs along the same lines as Anaya’s, describing AMLO as intolerant and authoritarian. Both Anaya’s and Meade’s neoliberal agenda is to continue the privatization of resources, education and politics.

P.S. Candidate Meade vows to fight to the death for the good of the patria (Homeland).

The only independent woman candidate, Margarita Zavala wife of Ex-president Felipe Calderon (2006-2012), threaded light Jabs with hand gestures pointing at the camera. She forgot the match was to the right and not against the monitor. On two occasional moments a slip of tongue revealed two mistakes: the cause of Mexico’s problems was attributed to the people and not the state. The second slip was confusing the security forces with delinquents. She immediately rectified her answers half ways through her two minute response. With an unclear agenda Zavala is seen as recycling themes of progress, security and foreign investment.

P.S. Zavala has stepped out of the candidacy Wednesday May 16, 2016. According to her press statement the chance of winning were nowhere close.

Standing to the left of AMLO was independent candidate and Governor of Nuevo Leon, Mexico Jaime Rodriguez known as El Bronco. His performance was more like a sideline boxer swinging cheap shots at AMLO and the other candidates from outside the ring. Rodriguez believes reducing social spending is the solution to poverty, in other words, punishing the poor for being poor. His pull yourself by your own boot straps strategy echoed another neoliberal simulacra plan for Mexico. His tuff stand on crime is literally to cut off the hands of thieves. His answer caught the moderator by surprise. She repeated the question twice and got the same answer both times. His call to punish thieves would be answered several hours after the debate. A mutilated dead body was found between a major highway connecting Mexico City and Acapulco with a sign that read: “Bronco has said it, to cut the hands of those who steal. Here’s the first one.”[2]

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) one of founders of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) operated calmly especially towards the dart throwing neoliberal Ricardo Anaya. In the debate AMLO rebutted back with, “You don’t fight fire with fire nor violence with violence.”

The progressive Together We Will Make History Coalition is a composition of union workers, electricians, the teacher’s syndicate, agricultural farmers, students, independent parties, citizens and progressive forces. AMLO’s project for the nation is beyond party interest and candidates. It is a movement of unified citizens tired of corruption, lack of security, opportunities and employment who seek to restore democratic values and stop the country’s hemorrhaging to violence and the flight of capital towards billionaires and rich nations. He advocates for new ethos and a new form of living that puts people first. In an interview at Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Mexico, AMLO was asked by a student moderator, “What’s a quality a president should have”, he answered, “honesty.” The same student followed up with another question, “Do you think honesty is enough” AMLO reiterated with a, “Yes, if you cannot depart from honesty then you cannot govern with justice.”[3]

By comparing AMLO to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez the PAN, PRI and The Citizens Coalition quartet (PRIAN) attempt to apply the politics of fear by repeating the same tactic as they did in the 2006 presidential election.[4] Inquired two days before if he would attend Saturday’s rehearsal before Sunday’s first presidential debate, AMLO replied, “After campaigning for twenty days he’d prefer staying home with his son Jesus and paste stamps he’d brought back from his tour up north.”[5]He added, “He didn’t feel the need to do any special preparation for the debate since he is always talking with people in the plazas.” He’s been in conversation all across Mexico from small towns to big cities for the past twelve years.

According to one of Mexico’s top financial institutions Citibanamex, candidates Meade and Anaya represent the continuation of neoliberal reforms. With AMLO those same structural reforms are challenged.[6]In the case of him winning the elections the financial institution is working out scenarios to help address the change of guard if AMLO becomes president. Citibanamex states that it is more likely he will win. In a meeting with twenty of the wealthiest businesses of Mexico and foreign investor, the candidate for Together We Will Make History felt confident enough to describe the meeting as very good. AMLO has made it clear to the elite, business class, bankers and all government representatives: his proposal to modify constitutional amendment 108 will permit any current president charged with corruption be brought to justice.

The accusations against AMLO since the debate have intensified ranging from taking over the church institutions if he becomes president. He’s labeled as a populist demagogue by the ruling elite and mainstream media.[7]His most questioned proposal is the creation of an amnesty program for those involved in organized delinquency and violent crimes. For his opponents a deal with delinquents is absolutely out of the question. Not for AMLO, it is a proposal that should be consulted and discussed with every Mexican citizen, expert, and organizations throughout the country. It is not a top down decision. The amnesty Initiative is to construct mechanisms that can facilitate a transition towards peace, bring about a more promising future without violence and end political impunity. This is not the first time such plan has been suggested. In 1977 an amnesty plan exonerated armed political groups in Mexico. In 1994 after the Zapatista uprise in Chiapas, Mexico a presidential decree article four states:  Anyone who participated in the uprise cannot be persecuted, investigated, arrested, detain, or interrogated.[8]Both resolutions have played a crucial role in alleviating Mexico’s internal conflicts.

A new airport proposal to replace Benito Juarez International airport in Mexico City (NAICM) is under scrutiny. Construction for the new mega project is projected to run in the billions imposing a heavy financial burden for future generations. AMLO’s sees the need to halt the project. His alternative is to expand an existing airbase (Santa Clara) that would cut the cost by three fifths. The current PRI administration is against AMLO’s call for the reevaluation of contracts and transparency. Nor are the other parties in favor of stopping the construction. For AMLO, if there is such an interest on behalf of developers and investors to build the airport, let it be without public funds. AMLO stresses the following: “if they want the new airport that bad, the rich have enough money to build it themselves and can run it anyway they want as long as there is no public money involved”

The betting is making everyone nervous and insecure. At a recent dinner party held at the home of Ex- president Carlos Salinas de Gortari (PRI/1988-1994) on Saturday April 5, 2018, representatives in opposition to AMLO, the elite business class of Mexico and the current President himself Enrique Pena Nieto met. The dinner and birthday celebration for Salinas de Gortari was interpreted as a strategizing meeting. There is an attempt to unite (PRIAN) the two major political parties along with other independents groups in favor of candidate Anaya.[9]Candidate Meade (PRI) does not have the intent to drop out of the presidential race.

For the EZLN (Zapatistas National Liberation Movement) the institutional Left  seems to be intoxicated with a victory it has yet not won with no plan B in case of a stolen election. Pastor and human rights activist Alejandro Solalinde has made a call to all candidates in particularly to AMLO to include the Indigenous leadership of Mexico as part of their political cabinet. For Solalinde, the Indigenous must go beyond mere condiment for the nation and take part in the decision making process, occupy spaces were public policy is evaluated and executed. He states, “There can be no social cohesion if Indigenous are not included.”[10]