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Slouching towards AMLO

12 April 2017

Whether for conviction or because they have been rejected by other political parties, more and more politicans are joining Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) National Regeneration Movement (Morena).

While Mexfiles thinks the “anti-American” label is misplaced, with prominent party members of AMLO’s former left-wing party, PRD, and from the conservative, traditionally Catholic and pro-US, PAN parties, at both at the national and local level, openly supporting the National Regeneration Movement, United States Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, may be prescient in warning of “an anti-American leftist” winning the Mexican presidency next year.

Within the Senate, former PRD Senators Miguel Barbosa, Alejandro Encinas and Zoé Robles and nine others have left their party to form a coalition with the small Workers Party caucus to form the third largest force in the upper chamber of the federal legislature.

Recent defections in the State of Nayarit… which is holding elections for both municipal officers and governor in July… include not just PRD deputy (lower house of the federal legistlaure), Eddy Trujillo López, but twenty regents and leaders of the PRD in ten municipalities within the state.

Within Mexico City, former AMLO’s base was always in Mexico City (where Morena now disputes PRD for control of the district… now state… government). Secretary of Tourism Miguel Torruco Marques, and Deputy Mayor for Metropolitan Affairs and Government Liaison, Leticia Quezada, both resigned from office to join the AMLO presidential campaign. Local Assembly leader Lorena Villavicencio Ayala and the leader of the Feminist PRD organization, “Mujeres de Hierro, Verónica Martínez Sentíes — both close to the sitting PRD administration — have also switched their allegiances to Morena.

Coming from the right, the most notable new Morena adherents are Manuel Bartlett Díaz, and Rafael Moreno Valle, the former governor of the state of Puebla. Both head large machines within their former party, and are expected to bring their voters with them into the new movement.

In Queretaro state, the general secretary of the PAN in the municipality of Corregidoras, Jorge Eduardo Patrón, and Jorge Lomeli also have joined Morena.

Unexpectely, Morena is also attracting defectors from both the long-governing PRI, and even the small new “dissident” liberal parties, like the Citizen’s Movement

In Querétaro, which has always ben PRI dominated, the AMLO movement is being supported by Juan Carlos Briz Cabrera, who had been the coordinator of Citizen Networks for the PRI’s State Steering Committee and Juan José Jiménez, former leader of the PRI’s National Confederation of Popular Organizations (CNOP).

PRI Deputies (members of the lower house of the Federal Legislature) who have defected to Morena include Nuevo Leon’s Eugenio Montiel Amoroso, and Puebla’s Alejandro Armenta.

Also noteworthy is the case of the federal deputy Carlos Lomeli Bolaños, who just a few days ago resigned from the Citizen’s Movement to promote AMLO’s presidential campaign.

Even one Green — Paola Felix Diaz — from the party usually dismissed as “PRI for Yuppies” — whose personal record suggest a real interest in ecological and human rights issues beyond that of the usual Green deputy, defected to the AMLO front.

With growing support from politicians from the traditional parties, as well as business leaders like entrepreneur Javier García Calderón and hedge fund manager and banker Alfonso Romo Garza, Mexfiles not only questions Secretary Kelly’s dismissal of Lopez Obrador’s “Unity Pact for Prosperty” as “anti-American” but as particularly “leftist” as well. While Morena started as an unabashed socialist alternative to the increasingly liberal (or neo-liberal) PRD, with socialism and nationalism being intertwined in Mexico since the Revolution, Morena appears to be living up to its name as a Party of National Renewal… returning to the original Obregonista Revolutionary party.

Obregon defined the “Revolutionary Family” as all those who sought to change the pre-existing situation whether their motives were selfish or altruistic, and — while Mexico was still at a stage where power came from the barrel of a gun — largely succeeded in creating a government capable of creatively managing change, and moving the nation forward. Despite the contraditions of a government of both capitalists and socialists, the old “Mexican system” lasted from the 1920s up until the late 1980s . In an eccentric way, at least at the lower levels, where fights between the contradictory ideologies could be settled, it was democratic — “every day but Election Day” as the old saying went. In it’s early phase, it was violently repressive when it came to dissenters (as in the Cristero War), and … as it morphed into the technocratic PRI… its repression became a bit more subtle (at least in public), but no less prone to violence.

What Mexfiles sees as a hopeful sign is that the original Morenaistas are, for the most part, opposed to state oppression and included people like Bernardo Batiz, who defines himself as a “Christian socialist”. With the defectors being, for the most part, politicians who have been working to democratize their own parties, or fed up with the repression built into the existing political framework, and those understanding a better economic system will require radical change, Morena may very well present a genunine threat to the “American Way of Life” as it stands now, and perhaps General Kelly is right to worry.


(Partially based on . Jésus Lemus,  “Crece la ola AMLO“,  Reporte Indigo, 11 April 2017)

Is it good for you, too?

9 April 2017

In response to the claims by General John Kelly and Senator John McCain (who according to the left is echoing the “party line” of Margarita Zavala — the leading candidate for nomination by PAN) — that “If the election in Mexico were tomorrow, a leftist anti-American would probably be obtained as President of Mexico. That can not be good for the United States […]. It would not be good for the United States or Mexico”, Lorenzo Meyer wants to set the record straight.

Meyer, the distinguished academic (with about 20 books on US-Mexican relations to his credit) and political commentator (unlike a US “pundit”, our “public intellectuals” are expected to actually have some expertise in the things they comment about), sees the implied threat of a U.S. “intervention” in our elections as a hang-over from the “Cold War”.  He notes that following the end of the Second World War, the United States would simply “not allow” a leftist government to come to power in Latin America out of fea it might give an opening to the Soviet Union.  Noting that there is no Soviet Union, Meyer wonders why the United States even cares what the tint of a particular government is here, especially if it doesn’t affect their own interests.  And… as Meyer notes… a “leftist” government, “leftist” in the Mexican sense, is in the best interests of both the United States and Mexico.

The Mexican left is not revolutionary, nor anti-capitalist. It is simply proposing a less brutal distribution of privilige. So what is their interest? How does it affect them? How substanially does this affect Kelly? Not at all.

It is a very radical left. A left that wants to attack corruption. That is good for the United States because the large number of their companies that are here have to operated now to a large extent based on bribes, and the left would clear the field. Who brought out the corruption in Oderbrecht and Pemex? American courts, because they don’t want that kind of corruption. It isn’t in their interest to have Brazilians earning money that way… In fact, [a government of] the left is in the best interest of the United States if it makes the Mexican game less corrupt. It suits us both.

Linaloe R. Flores, “Una Presidencia de izquierda le beneficia a todos, incluso a EU: Meyer; y EPN ‘aún no toca fondo’.” SinEmpargo, 9 April 2017

We must teach them to elect good men

5 April 2017

While most of US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly’s testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee dealt with the nuts and bolts of the (unbuildable, as he acknowledged) wall of shame, and with spinning the lower rates of immigration as a result of the Trump Administration’s so-far mostly rhetoricial iniatives there was this statement, not reported in the New York Times or other US media (that I can find). I don’t have the exact testimony, so the wording may not be exact, but translated a report in Sin Embargo (via Prensa Latina) Kelly said:

We have a problem with Mexico. There is a lot of anti-American sentiment in Mexico. If the election in Mexico were tomorrow, a leftist anti-American would probably be obtained as President of Mexico. That can not be good for the United States […]. It would not be good for the United States or Mexico.

While he didn’t mention who the “leftist anti-American” was he had in mind, we can all guess.  That said person is would not be good, for either the United States or Mexico, I’m not so sure.  Nor even that he is all that “anti-American”… anti-US policy (especially when it comes to agriculture and financial controls) — well, that’s a different story.

One notes that the “establishment” is pushing the same things the left has been promoting for several years… broadening trade outside the NAFTA zone.  Given team Trump’s own push to also lessen dependence on Mexican markets, and cut immigration, I’m not sure that “leftist” is all that much a threat to Mexico… unless, that is, one sees the new U.S. president as a threat to his own country’s prosperity and over-wheening dominence in the world.

As it is, with Kelly’s brief being to stop migration from Mexico, you’d think a candidate pushing for better conditions at home, and an end to violence within the country (especially that caused by the US appetite for narcotics) which the drivers of emigration here, he’d see our “leftist anti-American” as an ally in his own cause.  Nah… while  having been compared to the US President by his opponents in the financial community (with some exceptions), the real threat is not to US security, but to Wall Street interests.

In other words, on the side of ordinary people.  Supposedly, so was Trump.  Though why people in the US thought the son of a millionaire real estate developer (would be sympathetic to the interests of the working class and poor (unlike, say, the son of a rural grocer who went on to become a social worker and union organizer).

Anyway, I can’t think of a better reason to support the leftist anti-American candidate in the upcoming election than that given by Woodrow Wilson when it came to electing our own post-revolutionary leaders:

We must teach them to elect good men (or women, this being the 21st century).

This claim is lame about the reign of Spain

5 April 2017

Via Chilanguia (my translation):

President of the Spanish public television and radio corporation RTVE, Jose Antonio Sánchez, said that regretting the destruction of the Aztec empire during Spanish conquest is like regretting at the defeat of the Nazis in World War II.

In an event organized by Casa América in Madrid,  Sánchez focused on what he referred to as “Spain’s work in the Americas”, listing off several “advantages” brought by the conquistadors.  “Spain was never a colonizer, it was evangelizing and civilizing,” he reiterated several times during his speech.

Sánchez included numerous references to what he considered the benefits of the Spanish conquest of America; among them, the infrastructures that Spain built in the territories conquered during the occupation of the continent, like “churches, schools or hospitals”. In this enumeration, he also emphasized “catechism and [Spanish] grammar”.

Hernán Cortés introduces Spanish grammar to the Aztecs.

The state official went futher, claiming “The discovery of America has been the most important event in the history of mankind, after the birth of Christ. And the work of Spain has been of such magnitude that for centuries the enemies of the empire have dedicated their best work to discrediting us”.

He denied any role of the conquest in exterminating the local populations of the Americas, arguing that the Spaniards “knew Petrarch or Dante”. “What goes on in people’s heads that they think the Spaniards of that time were going to dedicate themselves to the extermination of human beings”, he asked.   But then added, ” Were bad things done? Let someone tell me in what conquests there were not.”

Spaniards discussing the works of Dante.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember reading about an Aztec Inquisition, nor of the Aztecs being particularly keen on throwing out religious and cultural minorities. Spain does get kind of a bum rap from later conquistador countries like England, but I don’t seem to remember too many of the early Spaniards being great readers of Dante or Petrach.  Most were too busy with conquistador-ing the Hell out of their neighbors, enslaving them when they could get away with it, or cutting a swathe through the native population.  Alas, for every Bernadino de las Casas, there were more than a few  Nuño de Guzmáns and Juan Odantes.



Oh well, he’s from a country that never really came to grips with its own Fascist past.

When Nafta closes a door…

4 April 2017

One of the biggest complaints about NAFTA way back when it was a pup was that it was pushed through (both here and in the US… don’t know about Canada) with a lot of discussion in the media, but no real knowledge of what was in the treaty itself.  It had been negotiated behind closed doors, leaving citizens in all three countries unpleasantly surprised when things like outside arbitrators over-rode national policy, or a local community dependent on one major industry found their product couldn’t be sold to the other countries, or that decisions always taken at the local level depended on some policy no one had ever heard of before.

With the future of NAFTA now in question (no one really thinks, I hope, that Trump… or Trudeau… or Peña Nieto is going to control the process, or that either Mexico or Canada doesn’t have it’s own “non-negotiable demands”) and Mexico — looking out for its own interests — considering more post-NAFTA deals, keeping citizens informed of the processes isn’t all that radical a demand.

And… as I’ve said… and others have been saying for a long time, the big problem with NAFTA has been that Mexico has become over-dependent on one trading partner.  So, the European Union trade deal is important, as even the unions understand:

(“Diversificar la economía, la mejor salida ante amenazas de Trump: Gómez Urrutia” Patricia Muñoz Ríos, Jornada, 4 April 2017, page 14. My translation)

Diversifying the economy is the best way to counter the threats of US President Donald Trump, according to Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, general secretary of the National Mining Union (Sindicato Nacional Minero),.

The union leader said that the round of negotiations taking place this week in Brussels, Belgium, to renew and expand the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Mexico (TLCUEM), while of extreme importance, have not been reported as thoroughly as they should.

Although we have heard very little about this issue in the press, and practically nothing from the federal government, these negotiations, which should be completed by the end of this year, are fundamental for the working class and for all Mexicans. He asserted that the central point of the negotiation is that Mexico must diversify both its markets and its investor pool ahead of threatened actions by the Trump administration.

Gómez Urrutia argues that Mexico must reduce the dependency on its northern neighbor, which has been maintained and deepened by the governments of the Institutional Revolutionary and National Action parties in the past three decades, adding that this change of course has been a long-time demand of progressive sectors.

Regarding the negotiations with the European Union, he explained that it is of vital importance to analyze any agreements with a clear head, paying close attention to European proposals in areas like the extractive industries (including energy and mines), agricultural production, intellectual property, the service industry, and government purchasing.

While stressing that the negotiations should not be stretched out, the Mexican government needs to provide more information to the public, and to bargain in a tranparent manner.

He also said that any agreement must incorporate international human rights and labor standards, in which the Mexican government remains weak.

God save the PRI?

4 April 2017

Álvaro Delgado posted late yesterday in Proceso about a meeting between Enrique Peña Nieto and the Catholic Bishops of the State of Mexico, where the PRI is likely to lose the governorship for the first time ever.  More troubling for the President, and his party, is that the leading candidate in Mexico’s most populous (and politically important) state is not from one of the old traditional opposition parties, but from the upstart MORENA party, which in four years has gone from a “political association” to the third largest force in the Chamber of Deputies, and whose presumed presidential candidate (and party founder) Andres Manuel López Obrador, is leading in all preliminary polls for President in 2018.  A win by Morena’s Delfina Gomez Álvarez … a grade school teacher and former municipal president of Texcoco… is widely seen as an omen of both AMLO becoming Mexico’s next President, and a repudiation of the neo-liberal “reforms” of the present, and recent administrations.

The PRI’s gubernatorial candidate is Peña Nieto’s first cousin, Alfredo del Mazo Maza, meaning a loss by the PRI would not only be a rejection of what was (and still barely is) the nation’s largest party, but of the president’s family, and political clan (the “Grupo Atlacomulco”… the PRI politicans connected mostly by family and marriage ties that have run the state since the 1950s).

This, of course, cannot stand.  In anticipation of the campaign (which officially opened Monday), the Federal Administration has been calling in its big guns, to unveil new programs, “stimulus packages” and make promises … all with the (wink! wink! nudge! nudge!) understanding that it is the PRI that delivers the goods…. at election time… as needed.

While leading the voters into temptation has a long and successful history in Mexico (especially in the State of Mexico), help from the other direction is not seen as amiss… thus, Peña Nieto’s open appeal to their Eminences last Friday.   Although the PRI claims to be the heir to the anti-clerical Revolutionary Party of the 1920s and 30s, and has always been quick to condemn clerical interference in politics, Peña Nieto either swallowed his principals, or at least broke long-standing protocol.  He knelt before Cardinal Carlos Aguilar Retes of Tlanapantla, and kissing his ring (and the rings of the other attendent Bishops, as well).  Cardinal Aguilar Retes, who has close ties to the Grupo Atlacomulco and is widely assumed to named successor to the retiring Norberto Rivera as Archbishop of Mexico City, and Bishop Francisco Javier Chavolla of Toluca are said to have been receptive to assisting Peña Nieto’s cousin.  The others, less so.

While technically forbidden from publically taking part in politics, the clergy (and especially bishops) have been making their “druthers” known and passed down their druthers as commands on high.    Although (and it’s hard to prove given the reluctance of the clergy to openly express an opinion on electoral matters),  it appears the lower clergy — parish priests — lean more towards Morena, the Bishops might stay non-commital.  Not because they support the leftist Gómez… or think that Josefina Vázquez Mota — from the conservative and Catholic PAN — has a prayer… but because Peña Nieto lost the support of the prelates when he came out in support of same-sex marriage last year, in another attempt to boost his own (and his party’s) flagging popularity.

Maybe prayers will work.  If not, there’s always bribery:  allegedly, the prelates’ “bling bag” was not the usual coozies, tee-shirts, and hats, but included “art objects, fine clothing, and religious articles”.

No Exit.

28 March 2017

Mexfiles has been seeing posts like this one (from an “expat” facebook page) more and more.

Once and for all…




There is a fee for tourists entering the country. Given that traditionally tourists have overwhelmingly been entering from the United States, the fee as long as I can remember has been more or less equivalent to about 25 US$. With the alarming drop in the value of the peso against the dollar, it’s been raised to today’s $500 pesos ($26.27 as of my writing this). The FMM (“Forma Migratoria Múltiple”) … the same fee covering what used to be a bunch of different sorts of temporary entry visas with different rates for people like academics, journalist, business visitors, aid workers, and tourists) is acquired when one ENTERS the country. However, Mexican border control has been rather lenient with those who lose, forget, or just blow off acquiring their entry documents, merely requiring they get a replacement when they show up at border control… i.e., when they’re on their way out of the country.

Secondly, there is an “expat legend” that’s gone around too long that foreigners are ENTITLED to a stay of 180 days.  While it has been a long-standing policy to give 180 days to all entrants, border agents here — like everywhere else on planet earth — are permitted to exercise discretion.  My first stay as a resident, the agent took one look at the massive amount of luggage I was lugging (including a whole collection of Junior High level textbooks) and warned me that I couldn’t work in the country on what was then a tourist visa (which I started doing the next day, but that’s another story), but gave me up to 180 days anyway.

Even then, there were well-known exceptions to the SOP.  Entering Chiapas from Guatemala would usually mean a 30-day visa.   At the time, there was a “Mexican stand-off” between the government and the Zapatistas.  Too many revolution tourists were just showing up, expecting to be welcome with open arms (not firearms!) by the Zapatistas.  And, while certainly those of us flying in from the north were known to do so as well, tourists coming from Guatemala were perceived as more likely to be those who expected to “go native” or at least on their own personal vision quest (as the expense of the local Mayans).  In other words… fairly or not… those people seen as likely to cost the State considerably more than 25 US$ in added protection, services, possible health-care costs, etc.

Which brings me to my real problem with “border jumpers” and the assumed “right” to stay up to 180 days at a time.  The story I hear from these people is that, while actually permanent residents (minus a few days a year), they more than pay their dues, “not using the social services network”.  Unless, of course, there’s a hurricane, a flood, an auto accident, their house is robbed, or any of the other vicissitudes of life that require fairly costly state intervention.  Maybe the 25 US$ is enough in the way of insurance to cover these contingencies spread over the 20 to 25 million visitors who are here anywhere from a few hours to half a year.  How well it covers the costs of people who are resident “tourists”… in the way of more police protection for their neighborhoods, higher water usage than your average Mexican family, pressure on local governments for infrastructure development in “gringo ghettos” (often at the expense of development in other parts of the same community)… may not work out.  While the argument can be made that the permanent tourists “create jobs” (mostly cleaning up after, or serving the whims of said permanent visitors),  that argument seems to come most strongly from real estate sales people.

Nothing against the people living here, on a quirk in policy (unless they are whining that the policy isn’t generous enough for them) but it does seem as if the real estate types, selling those who otherwise don’t qualify for immigration, to settle here, are privatizing profits, while socializing expenses.  They are the ones pushing for special governmental services for the “community” that claims not to live here, but merely visit, while reaping the rewards of home and condo sales, with bathrooms beyond the imaginings outside of telenovelas for the mass of us, and (subsidized) electrical rates that allow them to use every appliance known to man.

Given the recent moves by the US administration to crack down on even the most innocuous violation of immigration policy north of the border, its a wonder that border agents still allow people to enter for six months at a time at all.