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We have nothing to fear but fear itself?

16 May 2018

I’ve recently heard from a few foreign residents who are panicky over the prospects of a change in government… and not the usual panic over everything types either. One long term resident (like 25 years or so) was asking me if I thought she should start looking for property in Florida should the left win. While I can see “border jumpers” and the like being concerned that Mexico might retaliate against US anti-immigration policy by cracking down on people using “loopholes*” to stay here (something that might happen no matter who controls the incoming government), what accounts for the fear?

Yes, I expect AMLO to win the presidency in July.  I can understand the fears of those who expect a violent reaction from the right (and scenarios a la Dallas 1963) although I wonder if the fears are not more of those who, as outsiders, are looking at this from the outside.  That is, people depending on foreign information sources, which tend to parrot the “lens” of the source culture.  In a British publication, I recently saw AMLO compared to Jeremy Corbin, and in US media, I’ve seen him compared to either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders (or both, simultanously)… along with the usual comparisons to Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, and Lula da Silva.  The latter are easiest to understand… the “all Latin Americans are the same” meme that has colored thinking in the English-language media forever.  Mexico is not Venezuela, nor Cuba, nor Brazil.  We have not had a military officer in the Presidency since World War II, and… despite a history of foreign hegemony in the economy, our nationalist revolution was a century ago, and, if anything, the Soviets borrowed from us, not the other way around.  And Lula did pretty well by Brazil.  So, what accounts for the fear of a social worker/union organizer/bible-reader in Los Pinos?

* “J”, in a comment below, asked what “loopholes” were meant. While a foreign visitor is, in the usual course of things, given a stay up to 180 days when entering, there is no guarantee they will be allowed to stay that long, or will even be admitted into the country. Several people (quite a few I know) assume they will always be admitted for 180 days, and take advantage of that by living here full time but leaving the country for a day or two to go shopping north of the border. I would not at all be surprised to see a change in immigration policy that scrutinized these “border jumpers” more closely. Most of those hurt by such a change would be those who are living here as retirees, on incomes that don’t meet the threshold for a “retiree visa” (not it’s official name, but one criteria for issuing a termporary residency permit is to have sufficient income… a multiple of the Mexican salario minimo (I believe it’s 150 x the salario) in monthly income.

There are also those “border jumpers” who are working under the table… English teachers and resort workers for the most part… who might be affected were the IMN (Mexican immigration service) to crack down.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. 16 May 2018 4:46 pm

    What are these feared loopholes?

  2. Allen Graham permalink
    16 May 2018 5:26 pm

    Mexico is changing, that was inevitable. More students are graduating from universities, and that is good for them. More people are in better circumstances, and and with hopes for the future. But the poor, get poorer. Who will Obrador , also know as AMLO, help ?
    In short, only Obrador and a few of his cronies. The poor ? How?, The universities despise AMLO. The business community ? And now the retirees, and who are they ? people over 65….. and they are from everywhere, The U.S. citizens are primarily vocal Democrats. Here in Mazatlan, there are “poor people”, they have no skills and little desire to achieve, anything. They are a very small minority. I have had conversations with, students, business owners, professionals. and workers. Not one, none, nada, want AMLo as president. But I had no conversations with the very uneducated poor. Less with the vocal Democrats.

    • 16 May 2018 5:34 pm

      Are you speaking of Mexican poors (who overwhelmingly, outside the north, support AMLO) or foreign poors?

      • 17 May 2018 8:32 am

        Contrary to what the original poster says, a friend of mine of Mexican birth returned recently for a visit, and she says everyone seems to be in favor of AMLO. (She is from an upper middle-class family, so I doubt that the people she talked to were primarily poor.)
        My friend in Mexican City (a university educated fellow) who has always been afraid that AMLO would be another Hugo Chavez, is now saying that he is going to vote for him. He says that PRI and PAN have had their chance, and have screwed things up. It’s time to give AMLO a chance.

      • Allen Graham permalink
        17 May 2018 7:49 pm

        The real question should be, just who is supporting AMLO ? In my colonia, and most of city, the support is for Ricardo Anaya Cortes.of the PAN. For the majority of Mexico’s modern political history. The PRI has been in power.and is today. Who is supporting Obrador outside of Mexico ? Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela , who in turn is supported by Erdogan of Turkey. Other dictatorships have fallen in behind Madura, and Obrador. AMLO dresses like a socialist,And he is a socialist. Only weeks ago he tried to stop the construction od the new airport at Mexico city, “The poor don’t need it ” ! Note Carlos Slim controls one of the construction companies working on the new airport. AMLO, alias Obrador, has never denied that he is a socialist… Like Hugo Chavez, like Fidel Castro, like Nicolas Madura. Yes I know very few poor people, but, I know a helluva lot of people. They are terrified of the “socialist”. The very poor, uneducated are AMLO’s “sheep” . And he is no shepherd .

      • 18 May 2018 7:21 am

        Allen, I am not defending AMLO, but your colonia or even your city do not necessarily represent the viewpoint of the entire nation. At this point, all the polls show AMLO with a sizeable lead. And, no, it is not just “poor, uneducated sheep” that support him. I will say that if AMLO turns out to be another Hugo Chavez, it is PRI and PAN that are to blame. They had their chance to change things, but people are disgusted with their politics of corruption.

    • EMtz permalink
      17 May 2018 2:02 pm

      I agree that many people living in Mexico who came from elsewhere can see events out of context because of the biases of their information sources. Old habits are hard to break. It does not help that many expats tend to socialize with other expats so the realization that they are *guests* here becomes muted as do the ebbs and flows of cultural dynamics.

      I live here legally in a small agricultural town in Central Mexico within a short drive of one of the most violent and corrupt cities in the country. Most of my neighbors in this little village are Mexican and Otomi families that have been here for generations. Many are well educated. Others, not so much. Collectively, they are some of the most genuine, thoughtful, open-hearted and hard-working people I have ever known – and I have had the good fortune to have seen a lot of this amazing planet.

      Almost everyone I speak with here supports AMLO because they want to end the fulminating corruption that is causing so much suffering to innocent people as well as the structural implosion of this country. They like that AMLO questions everything and that he is willing to consider new ideas because they know that the current mode of governing and ever-increasing militarization is not serving the Mexican people.

      That there have been so many assassinations of candidates all across Mexico during this election season shows that the gangs and those in power who they have corrupted realize how fed up people are. They see that there is a real risk that AMLO is galvanizing people to unite with him to stop this wholesale terrorizing. Fear strips people of their dignity, and there is a quiet dignity at the root of this culture that is compelling people to stand up and say “Enough!”

      If border hoppers and other expats could see this more clearly, their fear might be displaced by understanding within the Mexican context. Some who have skirted Mexican immigration laws still might run into difficulties as these laws are tightened up but perhaps it will be with more open eyes and less reactivity.

  3. 16 May 2018 6:35 pm

    They fear that their dream of converting Mexico into “Little America” with them as part of the Royal Court will not happen if AMLO wins. Yes Lady go to Florida and gripe at the high prices, the lower classes, etc., over there.

  4. historiadeturismo permalink
    18 May 2018 1:55 am

    Hello Richard,

    Every day in my recovering Catholic way, I pray that you are right. Our country needs this change … In fact I have taken to wearing my Virgencita de Guadalupe medalion in hopes that she will help us all.

    I am only afraid that the victory will be taken away again, or that he will “have an accident”.

    Of course change is scary. Of course AMLO is ot well known in my part of the country. But what about the others? They’ve had their chance and they’ve blown it… let the “best” man win.

  5. 3 June 2018 3:03 pm

    One has to wonder who would benefit from some kind of crackdown on people living in Mexico on tourist visas. I did so myself during most of 2016, leaving once for 3 weeks, and then returning for nearly another 6 months. I’ve never tried to get a job in Mexico, and I just spend money, leaving a trail of dollars and pesos in my wake. Seems like that’s good for Mexico. Why would they want to make it more difficult?

    If you travel a lot, it’s hard to get a more permanent visa because they want you to stay in the country for long periods at a time.


    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where the political ads are running thick and fast.

    • 4 June 2018 2:09 am

      I don’t imagine there is any problem with people who “travel a lot” … though I can see where there might be a problem with people who claim to be just traveling, when they are running a business, or working under the table, or hiding from the police, or…

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