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All Bets Are Off in Mexico’s Upcoming Presidential Election

By ALAN BENJAMIN

Julio Hernández López, more widely known as Astillero, published an insightful column in the April 30 issue of La Jornada, Mexico’s large-circulation left-liberal newspaper.

Astillero writes that Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is running for president for a third time, has been backtracking on key programmatic points that had earned him wide popular support in previous elections. AMLO’s goal, Astillero writes, is to convince the elites in Mexico that he will not rock the boat and will govern from the center — pledges which may be futile because most of the elites don’t believe him anyway.

Astillero writes that, if elected, AMLO will come under huge pressures from the Mexican ruling class to toe the line, adding: “It will be of little use to have a president of the Republic who reaches this highest office with great popular support, but whose term in office is conditioned by the powers-that-be — a president condemned to bow to their threats and blackmail and who accepts, in the name of pragmatism, to keep things as they are.”

This is why, Astillero continues, the labor and social movements will have to put even more pressure on AMLO, should he be elected, to heed and fulfill the demands that he has supported over the years.

Astillero quotes Paco Ignacio Taibo II, a well-known detective writer who is also a high-ranking official in Morena, the political formation launched by AMLO. Taibo warns AMLO: “¡Si te quieren chantajear Andrés, exprópialos, que se chinguen, exprópialos!” (If they attempt to blackmail you, Andrés, f—k them, expropriate them!)

This language by Taibo is the language that has the banksters (in Mexico City and Wall Street) so worried. The banksters know that millions of people throughout Mexico share this same rage against the Mexican ruling class and its paymasters in Washington. They know that the Mexican workers, peasants, youth, women, and all the oppressed want change.

Los de Abajo (the underdogs) want ownership of the land and control over all natural resources, renationalization of all that has been privatized, a break with NAFTA and Plan Mérida, the reversal of all the counter-reforms, full labor and democratic rights, and so much more. [See Open Letter to AMLO in this issue.]

Last-Ditch Attempts to Prevent an AMLO Victory

The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, and other Big Business publications have expressed their concern that AMLO may not be able to govern from the “center” and/or contain the upsurge that could result from his possible, and at this point likely, victory. (AMLO is ahead in the polls by 20%, too big a percentage, it would seem, to pull off a third consecutive electoral fraud — though anything is possible.) These publications warn that another Chavista regime could be in the offing in Mexico if AMLO is elected. AMLO has received numerous death threats from right-wingers urging him to withdraw his candidacy.

La Jornada reported on May 9 that discussions between the two main ruling class candidates, Ricardo Anaya of the PAN and José Antonio Meade of the PRI, had been going on for weeks about one of the two stepping down in favor of the other, to enable just one “unifying” candidate to face AMLO on July 1st. But it appears that the talks broke down after current President Enrique Peña Nieto, a leader of the PRI, butted in to demand that Anaya be the one to step down (though Anaya by all accounts would have the better chance of beating AMLO).

Given this impasse, a new option is being tested. Sectors of the PRI linked to the president, La Jornada reports, have filed a lawsuit against Anaya, accusing him of corruption in his business dealings (between his Queretaro industrial plant and Spanish banks) worth hundreds of millions of pesos. The goal of the lawsuit is to invalidate Anaya’s candidacy and to force him to step down.

Preparing for a Possible AMLO Victory

Having said that, the Mexican ruling elites are divided and thoroughly discredited — and there are already indications that a wing of the capitalist class in Mexico may feel that AMLO, while not the preferred solution, may be the best option to hold off the rebellion from below, and that the best strategy may be to “condition” an AMLO presidency to govern in the interests of the capitalists.

Gustavo de Hoyos, president of Coparmex, one of Mexico’s main employers’ associations, is quoted in the May 10 La Jornada urging “all employers to tone down their rhetorical warfare against AMLO, and to look at AMLO’s revised platform not as a ruse but as a pledge which he should be called upon to honor.”

La Jornada’s Octavio Rodriguez Araujo (May 10) notes that, “more and more employers are viewing AMLO as the sure winner, while AMLO knows that he will have to work with the employers to carry forth in implementing his program, which is not socialist and does not call for any nationalizations, contrary to what some of his own advisers may think.” (The last remark is a reference to Taibo and some of AMLO’s leftist campaign organizers.)

Another such indication is that a sizeable number of top and middle-level officials in the PAN and PRI have jumped ship to join Morena, AMLO’s political organization, where they are running for office on the Morena slate, but with the “centrist” programs that Astillero warns against. And AMLO has let them all in the door.

At this writing, elections in Mexico are six weeks away. The situation is very volatile; anything can happen. All bets are off. Stay tuned.

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