Far-Left Populism Sweeps Mexican Elections
A left-wing populist movement has swept the elections in Mexico, with Andrés Manuel López Obrador winning the presidential election, in a victory that is certain to send the country’s political landscape into upheaval.
Obrador, who is frequently referred to as AMLO, won the presidential election Sunday night in a landslide victory, shifting power from the conservative Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which held power uninterruptedly in the country for almost a century. With exit polls suggesting a decisive victory early on, candidates from the dominant parties quickly conceded. Obrador’s party, the National Regeneration Movement, or Morena party, has also won 52 of the 96 seats in the Senate, and 210 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, 70% of the total.
The far-left has taken over Mexico
Sometimes referred to as being similar to former US Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the 64-year-old Obrador is a political outsider, who formed his own Morena party in 2014 after splitting off from the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, following a failed presidential bid.
The victory is the culmination of a campaign that has made socialist promises ranging from providing free internet, free education, and massive public works programs, without regard for how the government would actually pay for them. “It’s not a problem!”, he is quoted after being directly asked how he will pay for these entitlements. He blames the country’s social woes on corrupt government officials and has stated that “10% of the GDP” of Mexico is eaten by government corruption, and repeatedly deflects questions about policy and budget back towards corruption.
He has also made a name for himself for being critical of US President Donald Trump, calling his treatment of illegal aliens a “humanitarian disaster”, and likened Trump’s rhetoric to Adolf Hitler and his persecution of the Jewish people in Nazi Germany. Most recently in a speech, he suggested that illegal aliens pouring into America is “a human right”.
Obrador’s complete lack of a coherent policy outside of “ending corruption” and “standing up to Trump” has many political pundits worried that he will be the next Hugo Chavez and that he will turn Mexico into Venezuela, a country that is currently eating stray dogs to survive because of socialism.
Obrador is unfortunately not wrong about the corruption and violence in Mexico. Drug cartels like the Sinaloa, Gulf Cartel, and the Zetas generally have more power than the government itself, and frequently terrorize the country. For example, back in 2014, world-wide protests erupted after the disappearance of 43 students off of a bus in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. Mexican authorities claimed Iguala's mayor, José Luis Abarca Velázquez masterminded the abduction and was in bed with the cartels. Several former governors have also fled the country after being accused of money laundering, racketeering and taking bribes, such as Tomás Yarrington, who ran the now hyper-violent state of Tamaulipas on the Texas border from 1999 until 2005. At least 41 governors were accused of corruption between 2000 and 2013, according to the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness. The sitting president has also been embroiled in scandal. Peña Nieto, who ran as a reformer, was involved in a scandal in which his wife obtained a luxurious house from a developer with connections to the government.
The election itself has also been rocked by violence; one report claims that 132 total politicians were killed since campaigning began. The violence has intimidated many candidates, with several withdrawing due to fear of violence. Election day itself saw two deaths; a member of Obrador’s Morena party was shot dead on Sunday in the southern state of Chiapas when he tried to prevent vote bribing, and a female member of the Labor Party was shot dead near her house in the western state of Michoacan.
With all of the violence and corruption, it’s no wonder that the Mexican people are looking for a change from the current status quo, and that’s what Obrador represents to them, but his leftist policies are not the cure. The Mexican people have made their bed; it will be time for them to sleep in it soon enough.
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