The people of our neighbor to the south are heading out to the polls today to elect their next president. Assuming the polling in Mexico is anywhere near accurate and they can manage to pull off a free, fair election without the cartels rigging it (major assumptions, by the way), it appears that Andrés Manuel López Obrador will be elected. The populist leader, commonly known as AMLO, has made a lot of promises regarding ending corruption and reducing Mexico’s skyrocketing murder and kidnapping rates, and his basic slogan is only a few words off from “make Mexico great again.” But there’s a darker side to this guy, and his election could spell trouble for relations with the United States. (Time)
Polls predict that López Obrador will win the race with a home run—beating Ricardo Anaya, of the center-right National Action Party, or PAN, by two votes to one. That result would be an upheaval in Mexican politics, giving the country its first truly leftist leader since Lázaro Cárdenas in the 1930s, who expropriated oil from American and British companies. It would place a leftist nationalist over the Rio Grande from Donald Trump, who has promised to tear up trade deals with Mexico and erect a wall at the border to keep out “bad hombres.”
As López Obrador has soared toward the highest office in the land, he has campaigned mostly in the pueblos—small towns and villages like his native Tepetitán. It is here that López Obrador’s brand of leftist nationalism can be best understood. Many pueblos have been hit hard by the downside of globalization, their craft trades wiped out by factory-made imports, their farmers crushed by agribusiness, their young trekking to the U.S. to lay bricks and pick fruit. In their plazas, López Obrador has promised crowds that he would revive the pueblos and their people, building roads, repairing schools, paying for pensions and subsidies.
“I have a dream that there isn’t emigration, that Mexicans can work and be happy where they were born, where their family is, where their culture is,” López Obrador told a rally in Jerez, Zacatecas, giving a nod to Martin Luther King Jr. “And those who want to leave go because they choose to, not out of necessity.”
All of that sounds great, right? AMLO is talking about fixing the infrastructure of Mexico, bringing back jobs and increasing prosperity so people won’t want to “emigrate” to the United States. I’m sure we could all get behind ideas like those if it wasn’t the same sort of thing every politician says when trying to be elected. AMLO also seems to mimic President Trump on the issue of trade. He’s no fan of globalization and doesn’t much care for NAFTA. He’s signaled that he too is ready to “rip up” the agreement if he can’t get a deal that’s favorable to Mexico.
But as Karen reported here last week, López Obrador has made other promises in more candid moments which aren’t being as widely covered by the media. He’s been talking about a “radical revolution” in Mexican society and it’s not entirely figurative in nature. This guy is a hardline socialist who many fear is modeling himself far more in the image of Hugo Chavez than Ronald Reagan.
And what about secure borders? Not so much. He’s calling illegal emigration a “human right” and supports having migrants storm the border of the United States en masse. (Emphasis added)
“And soon, very soon — after the victory of our movement — we will defend all the migrants in the American continent and all the migrants in the world,” Obrador said on Tuesday while calling on people to “leave their towns and find a life in the United States.”
This fleeing to the United States would be “a human right we will defend.”
Hoo boy. AMLO is echoing the cries of Mexico’s current president that he’s “not going to pay for Trump’s damn wall.” But he’s probably the biggest reason yet that we need to get started building it. The current Mexican government does pitifully little to stem the flow of illegal aliens across our border, but at least they don’t actively encourage it in public. If this guy takes charge we’re going to entering into a whole new phase of the border conflict.