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Whatever it is, they’re against it

6 May 2019

Last summer, foreign reporters were falling all over themselves to compare Andres Manuel López Obrador to more familiar US politicians… weirdly enough, Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump (and sometimes both at once!). However, it seemed the best fit, not ideologically, but for electorally, is Emmanuel Macron: like AMLO, he was an insider who opted out of the crumbling traditional parties in favor of a new party that came out of almost nowhere to sweep the presidential election.

Ok, not a perfect fit by any means, but now there is another. Dissatisfaction with Macron led to street demonstrations, the so-called “yellow jackets” — a populist revolt against the French President’s neo-liberal programs. AMLO’s “anti-neoliberalism” has also brought rejectionists to the streets, and… who, one supposes, in those French dissidents, marched yesterday under the rubric of the “Chalecos México” (Mexico jackets). Unlike those masseses French men and women who dominated the streets of Paris and other cities over the last few months, the Chalecos México dominated… a block and a half of Reforma yesterday. For about an hour.

It’s not like there aren’t real grievances: laid off redundant civil servants, wealthy housewives who now have to pay social security and workers compensation for their “help”, ex-president Fox, whose pension was cut to nothing (and was leading the Guanajuato march), those who think Mexico City MUST have a “world class air terminal” designed by some British architect, not two airports, and… oh yeah… those who expected the new president in five months to undo the chronic problems with security, corruption, and cronyism that have been afflicting Mexico since Carlos Salinas was President.

In other words, what Mexicans call “fifis” … more befitting French poodles than French workers.

Not that we should take the demos (several, but not particularly large… maybe 1200 or so in the largest march, here in Mexico City) too seriously, but then again, as the almost farcical recent coup attempt in Caracas (with 20 or 30 soldiers… many unwittingly…supposed to show the world’s media that the army had defected), or the upper middle-class demonstrations in Brazil against the (relatively penny-ante) corruption in the Dilma Rousoff administration a few years back, these events can be spun to create the perception of a chaotic populist administration that can only be “cured” with a return to neo-liberalism. It’s just that, so far at least, the “fifis” are so bad at it:

On the left is a photo of an anti-crime march during the Calderón Administration. On the right, yesterday’s march:

That the deception was noticed within minutes aside, there are already those… like Jorge Ramos of the US network Univision (and the conservative Mexican daily Reforma) and the always reactionary Mary Anastasia O’Grady (sorry, no direct link: I’m not gonna pay for something I don’t read) of the Wall Street Journal to start laying the groundwork for discrediting what so far has been a remarkable several months: the murder rate is higher, but crime over all is down, gasoline prices have stabilized (and gasoline theft is being taken seriously), the civil service is being reformed, the judiciary is actually prosecuting corrupt judges and enforcing rules against nepotism, educational “deforms” of the Peña Nieto administration have been undone, a National Guard has been created, the peso is higher, major infrastructure projects have started, boondoggles canceled, and … oh yeah, marijuana is about to be legalized, Did I mention that the pro-marijuana demo on Saturday dwarfed the march of the fifis?

On the other hand… maybe — in a way –the dissidents are the real Marxists:

Los opositores de AMLO muestran músculo en la CdMx: renuncia, piden; le reclaman la violencia” Sinembargo, via Noroeste.

Así no, AMLO: Reclaman con marcha en CDMX que el presidente hace un mal gobierno“, Animal Politica

New York Times, Forbes linked in text.

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