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Plots against AMLO?

19 May 2015

When in Mexico we speak of “mafias” we are not referring to gangsters so much as “special interest groups”, generally with an economic interest … say, taxi owners, or the inner circle of business groups, or political factions.  AMLO famously uses the phrase “mafias del poder” to refer to his opponents — the entrenched establishment leadership, the “one-percenters” of Mexico.

Yet… if we are to take remarks passed on by Televisa evening news presenter and journalist, Joaquin López-Doriga, perhaps the Mexican “mafias” are considering resorting to a style more like that of old-fashioned ethic gangsters.  Writing in last Friday’s Milenio, López Doriga passes on remarks he has heard in “business circles” (his phrasing) to the effect that the present government  (presumably though political errors) is paving the way for AMLO to return to presidential politics, and that he has to be stopped, by any means necessary.  Or, so López-Doriga hints, when he says it would be a grave error in a democracy to eliminate a presidential candidate, as happened the afternoon of 23 May 1994 in Lomas Taurina, Tijuana.  Without spelling out what exactly he’s getting at, the date and place is the equivalent in US political writing of saying November 22, 1963 in Dealy Plaza, Dallas.  In short… political assassination.

AMLO-Asamblea-Nacional-05As with John Kennedy’s assassination, the  May 1994 assassination of Luis Donaldo Colosio, widespread doubt surrounds the official story.  Moreover, while Colosio was “only” a candidate for the Presidency and not the sitting President, as the PRI candidate in the pre-reform system, there is a stronger sense of “what might have been had he lived” surrounding Colosio than there is around Kennedy.  Colosio was expected to reform the political and social system, widely seen as another Lazaro Cardenas (our FDR), as well as a reformer who would put the brakes on neo-liberalism and … more ominously to the “mafias” … “break with the practices which have made (the Party) a rigid organization”.  Two weeks and three days after saying this in public, he was dead. 

And so, López-Doriga’s not so cryptic comment is being read as a warning to not just AMLO (who the journalist, as a Televisa employee, did his best to paint AMLO as a “danger to Mexico”) but to the “mafias of power” as well.  López-Doriga points out that AMLO may not even be a Presidential candidate in 2018, and that the comments about stopping AMLO are more directed at what business leaders see as the mistakes of the last two administrations than at AMLO himself… that is, the business establishment seems to be saying “IF we don’t get our act together, AMLO will take over”.

Not that I think that’s a bad thing, and — as Ciro Gómez Leyva writes in El Universal — entirely plausible.  Mexico is a multi-party state (in large part, due to the reforms that followed the shock of Colosio’s assassination) and the president is not, as in most Latin American countries, elected by a majority (50 percent plus one) which usually requires a run-off, but by simply plurality of votes.  AMLO’s last two times out, he received a third, or a bit more than a third of the vote.  The three main parties — PRI, PAN, and PRD are all losing votes, PRD … hurt by revelations of several of its office-holders having ties to organized crime, was the biggerst loser, but AMLO’s new party, MORENA, has been rapidly growing, polling (the last time I looked) a respectable 10% of the electorate… which is pretty damn good considering the party didn’t exist a year ago..

While the left is fractured among several parties, presumably in 2018, they would run a fusion ticket.  Headed by AMLO, he only needs to do better than the PRI, which is also hemorraging members to minor parties, PAN — which, while not losing as much of its membership, is beset by infighting, and the sense that it is neither able to deliver on its promises, nor offers a real alternative to PRI.  So, Gómez Leyva  sees a real possibility of an AMLO presidency in 2018.

No friend of AMLO’s, Gómez Leyva does lay out a few scenarios that would stop AMLO, short of those hinted at by the businessmen.  AMLO could die of natural causes.  PRI or PAN could somehow discover a credible, popular figure to run for President in the next two years… something not on the horizon now.  Or PRI and PAN (dismissed as “PRIAN” by the left anyway) could run a common candidate, as presumably the various parties on the left would do, all backing AMLO (as they did in 2006, when he may have actually won).

And, perhaps a back-handed sign that AMLO’s future candidacy is a very real worry for the establishment, Felipe Calderón was back in the news today… sounding like a broken record, he was warning that a vote NOT for the establishment is a vote for another Hugo Chavez, or… AMLO.

One nice thing about Mexican elections, though, is the candidates aren’t even officially running until 90 days before the vote.  So… while all this is speculative, about April 2017, the U.S. media may again be full of stories about the “populist firebrand” and such-like nonsense.  Only this time, maybe the “populist firebrand” will win.


Gómez Leyva, Ciro. “Quién puedo derrotar a López Obrador en 2018?” El Universal 15 May 2015

López-Dóriga, Joaquin. “AMLO es el blanco” Milenio 15 May 2015

“Felipe Calderón: habrá violencia si se ganan candidatos populistas” Proyecto Diez, 12 May 2015


2 Comments leave one →
  1. DonAlbertoDoyle permalink
    20 May 2015 2:40 pm

    You don’t think Ebrard would give it a go, with PRD, or even Moreno? He’s got all the lustre, World’s Greatest Mayor, Bolivar meets JK Galbraith, terrific results on the ground in the DF…..for me, his biggest drawback is that he looks like Pena Nieto’s doofy older brother. You don’t think he’d be a better standard-bearer for the Mexican Left than AMLO?

    • 21 May 2015 12:54 am

      Nah… first of all, he’s Movimento Cuidadano, not Morena or PRD thse days. His rep as “Bolivar meets JK Galbraith” seems to be more in the European and US press than here at home. He’s less a populist than pushing what is foreign “progressive” ideas (not that those ideas are necessarily bad, but bicycle lanes in Roma are kind of peripheral to people in places like Itzapalapa, let alone people in Chiapas or Sinaloa.

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