The Return of the AMLO

Mexican politics is fascinating. There’s so much more passion across such a large cross section of the general population. And the candidates certainly have charisma. Say what you like about Lopez Obrador, he has buckets of the stuff. So it’s interesting to see that he’s going to be running for the presidency for a second time next year. Or running for ‘re-election’, depending on who you’re talking to.

Did Obrador win last time? Meh. Neither side won a mandate worth writing home about. I wouldn’t have voted for Obrador, he swings far too far to the left for me. And even considering what has happened in Calderon’s war on drugs in the last six years, I would still have given him my vote if I were returned to 2006. And if I were given a vote to cast, which I wasn’t. In my opinion, Obrador would have committed a political and economical destruction upon Mexico with grave long term consequences.

And whilst I think the war on drugs is a foolhardy nonsense, I will at least credit Calderon with sticking to his convictions rather than pandering to populist sentiment. Cutting a deal with the drug barons and allowing the status quo to continue without interference would have been terribly easy to do. Instead, he’s left a big X on his forehead. And his family’s foreheads.

Obrador’s futile protests that went on for months, nay – years, after the election did him no favours. The legitimate president? Nope. The Pantomime President fits better. He was undignified, destabilising and, quite frankly, a little pathetic. But still. I don’t dislike him. He is a character. And he too is a conviction politician. By the way,  when I say ‘conviction politician’ I mean this, not this. 🙂

But anyway….I could never forgive Obrador, simply due to the number of nights I was awoken by his supporters chants. That’s what comes of living opposite an Electoral Office, I guess. I did actually see Obrador when he gave a speech just across the road from my home. Close enough to get a recognisable pphoto of him, even without a superzoom lens. Far enough away that it was grainy and not worth saving.

As to who’ll win this time, in a years time. Probably not Obrador. Good thing. Probably not PAN, and whichever candidate they eventually field. Good thing. So probably PRI. Good lord. Just like Afghans have this fuzzy, feel-good feeling about the old days under the Taliban, and just as comrades of former Soviet countries yearn for the good old days of Communism, and just as Jamiacans wish the kindly British Empire would just come back and relieve them from their woes….Mexicans too seem to have a rose-tinted view of the past.

I guess if you can look past the monumental corruption, massacres, nepotism, dictatorial brutality and thievery, the PRI weren’t all that bad. There was the Mexican economic miracle, a fabulous Olympics and the two greatest World Cup tournaments ever held. Pah. The last point swings it for me. I’d vote PRI.

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8 thoughts on “The Return of the AMLO

  1. “I guess if you can look past the monumental corruption, massacres, nepotism, dictatorial brutality and thievery, the PRI weren’t all that bad. There was the Mexican economic miracle, a fabulous Olympics and the two greatest World Cup tournaments ever held. Pah. The last point swings it for me. I’d vote PRI.”

    Haha great stuff! you might be interested in my blog on Mexico too: http://duncantucker.wordpress.com/


  2. Kim G says:

    I remember quite vividly driving around Mexico City some months after the 2006 election and spotting a hand-scrawled poster in someone’s car window that said, “Ya Basta, Amlo!” That pretty much sums it up in my view. He really should have gracefully accepted the polls’ results and moved on just as did Al Gore in 2000. By not doing so, I agree, I think he completely hurt his credibility.

    I’m not close enough to Mexican politics to have much sense of what’s going on. And given the election is in 2012 anyway, I’m not sure anyone can call it yet. But it seems as if electing either someone from the PRI or the PRD will likely create some wacky economic policies that will make things worse in the country. But it’ll probably be good for gringo expats as it’s likely to crush the foreign exchange value of the peso.

    As for the war on drugs, it’s totally stupid. But the war on the cartels is necessary and needs to continue or Mexico will become a failed state. Backing down now is not a serious option.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where “Occupy Wall St.” has now decided to occupy Congress Street, thereby fouling my commute. Wish they’d get their act together and demand some real change.


    • …as Gore did in 2000, and Nixon before him in 1960. I very much doubt I’m any better informed than you when it comes to Mexican politics. My insight came from a mix of the foreign press and my students. Some of whom (usually the AMLO supporters) were very passionate indeed. To the point of it being a subject worth avoiding at times.

      I don’t think PRI cause much concern in quite the same way as PRD do. With Obrador in charge, particularly. Obrador just seemed to ooze a streak of envy inspired destructiveness zealotry. Ebrard didn’t come across as being nearly as extreme. In fact, I liked Ebrards sense of humour. I remember at the unveiling of the giant Xmas tree a few years ago, he was able to greet the boos and jeers with a grin and a one liner when he switched the lights on. Bravo.

      I do appreciate your differentiating between the war on drugs and the war on the cartels. I think there’s a perfectly valid argument as to whether the war ever needed starting in the first place though. However, it did. So not starting it is no longer an option. Is backing down? Not at this stage, no. I agree with you there. There’s no simple resolution. Armed confrontation will not, ultimately, result in any peace. At best, it might lay the ground for economical means to ‘resolve’ the issues. And you can bet your bottom dollar that once the war is won or done, a fair chunk of the combatants will just continue anyway and turn to new tricks. Just as elements of the IRA and Loyalists did in Northern Ireland. But that’s far more manageable.


  3. Dani says:


    Please see this documentary before commenting on this subject, the truth always has 2 versions or more, I understand that people living in DF got tired of the protests, but millions of people were really mad for the fraud, he had to do this in a peaceful way and channel all the people;s frustration.


    • Hi Dani,

      I have watched, read and (more importantly!) experienced the subject in pretty good detail. I do understand that people were mad, and that some viewed it as a fraud. But at the end of the day, the one thing we can state without too much doubt, is that Obrador did not win any sort of a clear cut majority*. Even if he had one, it would have been by a margin thinner than a gnats foreskin. That’s not a clear political mandate.

      But I’ll pick up on one word of your comment – peaceful. AMLO and his followers do deserve an awful lot of credit for the fact that they managed to maintain such a large scale protest over such a prolonged period of time peacefully. That’s not easy to do. It doesn’t happen in many other places. So for that I applaud them.

      *Neither, of course, did Calderon.


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