Barnard R. Thompson
This observer has long had doubts about Mexican presidential hopeful
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, beginning when we first met in 1988 and rising over the years, peaking since last
August when I was part of 100 or so people, mostly Mexican nationals, who met with AMLO at a rally. The
latter a group of mainly political supporters.
To sum up my thoughts and concern, I cite the following to express
In 1831, English poet and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge said, "If men could learn
from history, what lessons it might teach us! But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which
experience gives us is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind."
As well, there is a
term used in Mexico's political idiom, Gatopardismo. Gatopardo (after "The Leopard,"
a 1958 Italian novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa) can best be summed up with a translated passage from the book: "If
we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change." In other words, expedient changes
so that nothing might change.
To this observer, Andrés Manuel López Obrador is far more suspect
than beyond doubt. And the concern for the Mexican masses, indeed for all nations, is that they will lose
hope for future change with few accomplishments and diminishing expectations of AMLO and his promises.
following are three past columns by yours truly, each published several years ago. Yet, with nearly 30
years of experience, observation and analysis, most of the content seems germane today.
Monday, August 28, 2006
Sedition, not Democracy, Comes to Mind in Mexico
Barnard R. Thompson
The first time I met Andrés
Manuel López Obrador, nicknamed “El Peje” (after a gar-like fish found along the Gulf of Mexico coast)
and called AMLO in the media, was in September 1988, outside Villahermosa, Tabasco. Hurricane Gilbert and
its devastation had just swept across the Yucatán peninsula on its way to northeastern Mexico, and thanks to the help
of a local journalist we were able to track down AMLO out in the middle of nowhere just hours before the most torrential rains
I have ever experienced sideswiped Tabasco.
López Obrador was campaigning for governor
of the state as part of an alliance, formed by Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) malcontents called the Democratic Current
and leftist groups gathered together in the National Democratic Front, that was one of the precursors of the Party of the
Democratic Revolution, the PRD (which materialized in 1989). Earlier AMLO had seized upon the opportunity
to join the fledgling coalition, and to become its gubernatorial candidate, after he lost the candidacy for his former party,
the PRI, and contemptuously bolted from the then-government’s political machine.
On that mid-September
day, if memory serves me correctly AMLO was meeting with rural area Indians, campesinos and ejidatarios in support of their
claims against Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned petroleum monopoly, for property damage and environmental degradation caused
by Pemex activities to grazing and farmlands, estuaries, tidewater areas and fishing. And of course, he
was asking for their vote – in an election that López Obrador ultimately lost (and thereafter quickly cried fraud).
graciously granted this unannounced visitor an interview, although it must be said that there were not many people around
him at the time as few outside Tabasco and state political circles had even heard of the campaigner and future firebrand.
Plus feared hurricane-force winds and rain were clearly on the way.
Among the topics
discussed, in connection with his bid for the governorship, were AMLO’s support of demonstrations and protests against
Pemex, and some of the rather inflammatory rhetoric (especially for then) in his campaign speeches against the ruling PRI
and its candidate, Salvador Neme (who won).
Three years later, in January of 1992, Neme was
forced to resign following midterm municipal elections, charges of electoral fraud by the opposition, demonstrations, and
an “exodus for democracy” march to Mexico City where the protestors joined others and set up encampments. López Obrador was president of the Tabasco state PRD at the time, and among the charges
made by the party were claims that the vote count in the municipality of Cárdenas exceeded its total of registered
voters (officials found in favor of the PRD charges), similar to today’s allegations by AMLO at the national level.
some of what AMLO said in 1988 was akin to today, notably about democracy in Mexico. According to resurrected
field notes, he insisted that to simply talk about democracy was not enough, and that common citizens need to also mobilize
to bring about democratic and wanted change.
And he’s been mesmerizing and mobilizing
his masses ever since.
Today however it would seem that to AMLO the idea of democracy is –
and maybe was – how facts, wishes and wants are defined according to AMLO. Kind of a mystification
that blurs democracy with the antidemocratic, and leaves the rule of law to creative interpretation or obscurity.
for what he wants to accomplish, and first and foremost to inventively keep his supposed “victory” in the presidential
race from being denied him through claimed electoral fraud, AMLO is justifying his demands, public calls to action, and demonstrations
with the rule of law, citing Article 39 of the Mexican Constitution: “The national sovereignty resides essentially and
originally in the people. All public power flows from the people and is instituted for their benefit.
The people at all times have the inalienable right to alter or modify their form of government.”
other words, if the government “imposes” Felipe Calderón as president, according to AMLO, and the Constitution
according to AMLO, his people are endowed with the right to change their government, even if it first takes sedition or anarchy
to do so.
And all this time I thought that the certified fair and transparent election held last
July 2 was an exercise in democracy, and that the will of the Mexican people as expressed through their vote was “…
the inalienable right to alter or modify their form of government.”
Monday, April 26, 2004
AMLO does not bode well for the future of Mexico
Barnard R. Thompson
While near daily reports of corruption and scandal in the
Mexico City government may be a growing monotony for outsiders they continue to dominate Mexico’s national news.
Actually, coupled with the political machinations and at times bizarre antics of Andrés Manuel López
Obrador, the Federal District’s mayor, the scandals and their domino effects continue to make headlines internationally.
well, that which foreigners may find wearisome is in reality of global significance — as what is in play is the future
of Mexico and its role in international relations. All of this because López Obrador, AMLO in the
print media, has his sights set on the Mexican presidency in 2006.
And this must be of concern to observers
worldwide as AMLO increasingly shows his true colors and less than stellar values.
Up until the
1980s, in his home state of Tabasco and in the Federal District, the politically embryonic AMLO was active in the Institutional
Revolutionary Party (PRI). However, he broke with the PRI in 1988, not for ethical reasons but because
he failed to win that party’s gubernatorial candidacy for the Tabasco state elections. The ambitious
AMLO then moved into a leftist coalition that was later to further merge and become the Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD.
1988 and again in 1994 AMLO unsuccessfully ran for the governorship of Tabasco on the left-winger's ticket, in 1995 losing
to a probable PRI-engineered fraud. Next the aspiring leader moved to Mexico City and there, in the centralistic
capital of all things political in Mexico, AMLO’s meteoric rise in the PRD led to his 1996 election to a three-year
term as national president. And in 2000 he won the coveted Mexico City mayoral race.
like a cacique with portfolio among the lower classes of the Federal District — virtually a nation within a nation with
a population of 8.6 million people, since taking office the politically expedient populist mayor has proven to be a master
illusionist. But in more recent months things have started to breakdown and the people are now seeing that
the marvel is more like magic realism.
While the PRD mayor drives around in an economy car, his chauffeur
it turns out is paid more than many corporate executives make in Mexico. And most of the AMLO deputies
have late model luxury sedans at their disposal.
The multimillion-dollar contract given to the
firm headed by former New York City mayor Rudy Guliani, to cleanup crime in Mexico City, has proven to be more show then accomplishment.
In other words, crime still abounds — and that includes crime within the Mexico City government.
then come the more recent scandals.
It would be hard however to claim no smoking gun when nearly
US$2 million is missing from the Mexico City treasury and there are video recordings of AMLO’s finance chief gambling
it away in Las Vegas, videos that were broadcast on Mexico’s national news. Too, it would be difficult
to deny that an AMLO kitchen cabinet insider was taking bribe money when the whole thing was caught on tape, another video
that was shown worldwide.
But AMLO, rather than confront the problems and ferret out the real culprits
yelled bloody murder as he blamed, and continues to blame, anyone and everyone — including several U.S. entities —
for plotting against him. As such, AMLO has proven to be a conspiracy theorist extraordinaire, however
he has failed to produce promised evidence and proof each time he has vowed to do so.
A last straw
for the U.S. government came when AMLO revealed a classified report during one of his daily news conferences.
The document, by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the U.S. Treasury Department, had been obtained through
a U.S.-Mexico agreement on financial information sharing that specifies material will be kept in strictest confidence.
AMLO, having no regard for agreements, treaties or trust, flagrantly used the document to supposedly show that Mexican federal
officials knew of the videos showing corrupt acts before he did, which he alleges is somehow proof of a plot against him.
actions of AMLO regrettably forced U.S. officials, on April 21, 2004, to suspend the bilateral agreement with Mexico until
safeguards, guaranteeing that unauthorized persons will not have access to or use of sensitive financial information, can
be assured. In the meantime, AMLO has helped to reopen doors to money laundering, drug traffickers and
terrorist financing that were in fact being cooperatively closed through the joint efforts of Mexico and the U.S.
● ● ●
Monday, May 8, 2006
The “Dirty War” Against
López Obrador in Mexico
By Barnard R. Thompson
huge and overwhelming dirty campaign against (Andrés Manuel) López Obrador” is in motion in Mexico, said
Dr. Agustín Basave during an educational roundtable presentation at the University of San Diego, in California, on
May 3. And he referred to well-established rumors that US political advisor Dick Morris has been contracted
by the campaign of Felipe Calderón.
Calling Morris a “dirty war expert,” Basave said that
this US campaign specialist is behind the negative ads by Calderón and his National Action Party (PAN) that are painting
populism as a peril and López Obrador as “a danger for Mexico.” They are conducting
“a campaign of fear” Basave said in flawless English, adding, “this dirty war could boomerang.”
boomerang, “people get sick and tired of negative advertising,” he said.
a prominent academic, political analyst and former member of the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party – as
was AMLO (the popular acronym for López Obrador), resigned from the PRI in 2001 when he joined the administration of
Vicente Fox. During his tenure with the PRI, Basave served in the Mexican Congress as well as in high-level
posts in the party and the Mexican government.
Fox named him Mexico’s ambassador to Ireland, where he served
from 2001 to 2004. Subsequently Basave left the administration and returned to his native state of Nuevo
León, where today he oversees the López Obrador and Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) presidential campaign.
the ongoing attack spots on television against AMLO “lies,” Dr. Basave pointed out some of the alleged Calderón
and PAN sponsored falsehoods.
One ad says that the debt of Mexico City tripled while AMLO was mayor.
Calling AMLO prudent, Basave said that the claim is simply not true. The fact is López Obrador
“decreased the increase in debt” during his administration, which is acknowledged by responsible economists according
to Basave. He also said that the “support senior adults” program of AMLO, a Milton Friedman-like
negative income tax arrangement, has been a success.
An inflamed debate is taking place in Mexico today
over voter preference polls and surveys, a subject Basave went into somewhat in depth at the request of a USD professor.
This particularly considering an early May Reforma newspaper poll that gave Calderón a surprising seven-point
lead over AMLO (Calderón 40 percent; López Obrador 33; and Roberto Madrazo of the PRI 22).
other comments on the subject, Basave said: AMLO has serious doubts about the accuracy of the polls, believing they are being
manipulated; we are suspicious, “I personally am suspicious of manipulation”; and many people have no confidence
in the polls.
The way poll questions are presented is a concern, as it is like asking a man if he (still)
hits his wife? And the Mexican people are afraid to say that they would vote for the opposition.
he also said, regarding AMLO’s claimed lead: “I do believe that the gap has shortened, that the lead has lessened.”
latest jump ahead by Calderón comes on the heels of Mexico’s April 25 presidential candidates’ debate –
which AMLO skipped. Reforma concluded in its poll notes that the PAN candidate has advanced by
winning over undecided voters owing to the debate.
Not to debate was an apparent strategic mistake by
AMLO, a decision based on his supposed polling suspicions – or maybe it was a campaigning ploy? Whatever,
the PRD candidate has announced that he will participate in the second and final contest on June 6. As
for Basave, he said the June debate will be “very important, maybe decisive” as to the July 2 election.
AMLO’s “center-left” party, Basave condemned current and past governments, and the Mexican system, by implicitly
saying “up until now the PRD has been deprived of victories in several states.” And differentiating
between modern and moderate leftists vis-à-vis the more radical left, he noted that Mexico should change from a system
that excludes some to a system that includes everyone. He said that the PRI was guilty of exclusion for
71 years, and the PAN has followed in its footsteps since 2000.
Yet Basave still gives the trailing PRI a
chance to win. Noting that many analysts have written off Madrazo, Basave is not so sure since the PAN’s
fear campaign and dirty war could help Madrazo. As voters’ aversion to the negative campaigning grows
so will absenteeism on Election Day, he said, which could turn the election into a hard vote contest. Should
that happen the PRI has the hard vote edge.
Barnard Thompson, editor of MexiData.info, spent more than 50 years in Mexico and Latin America providing multinational clients with in-depth information as well as
actionable intelligence; country and political risk reporting and analysis; plus professional, lobbying and problem resolution