I arrived in Mexico in mid 2005, just as Lopez Obrador’s tenure as Head of the DF government was coming to an end.  But I’d spent a couple of weeks in the city a few years earlier, when his administration was just getting to grips with the job at hand. From my point of limited reference, there was a visible improvement in security and infrastructure. But as a presidential candidate in 2006 and 2012,  he seemed to inspire fear and hope in equal measure. He inspired neither with me. Only my curiosity.

Like Corbyn, he stands on a left leaning soapbox preaching the mantra. Like Trump and Brexit he rode a populist wave. Like Macron, he established a party out of nowhere that swept to victory on a wave of anti-establishment sentiment. But there are at least as many differences between AMLO and those I’ve mentioned as there are similarities. And the differences tend to be the key ones. If you forced me to make a political comparison, I’d perhaps choose Tony Blair. Based on the evidence of his time as head of the DF government, he was as pragmatic as he was ideological. I suspect there is little to fear from AMLO.

The photo above was taken a decade or more ago, at one of my favourite museums. It’s a fairly non descript bathroom, left exactly as the owner kept it. But I liked the filter I used. The owner of the bathroom? Why, that would be another of Mexico City’s most famous leftie politicians. Not that he ever campaigned for office in Mexico. Although Leon Trotsky and his clique certainly left their mark on the country. Are there similarities to be made of Trotsky and AMLO? Be my guest. But let’s hope that senor Obrador meets a kinder end.



8 thoughts on “AMLO

  1. norm says:

    “I suspect there is little to fear from AMLO.”
    What does P think?

    I think it will boil down to if he is in bed with the Mexican crime families.
    If he is straight, how far will he go in cleaning up the police, military and said families?
    His policy of amnesty is a good one. We’ll see.


    • I don’t think Mrs P is quite as engaged politically as you and I. But she seems fairly convinced that AMLO is a decent guy and free of corruption. That’s important to her. And I’d agree.

      If he’s truly straight, there’s the possibility that he’ll meet Trotsky’s end, no? An amnesty, of a strictly regulated type) is the only way to go. Might he also consider legalising certain substances? And might that help Donald find funding for his wall after all? But Mexico still won’t be paying…


  2. I am cautiously optimistic. That fact that he worked with Carlos Slim to revitalize the Historic Center would indicate to me that he is not the wild-eyed radical some make him out to be. If he is as competent as President as he was as mayor of Mexico City he will go down as one of Mexico’s better Presidents.


    • Cautious optimisim is how I would describe the situation. And yes, he could very well go down as the best president in living memory. To be fair, his predecessors set the bar pretty low…

      When I first went to DF, I stayed in a hostel bordering the Zocalo. When the sun set, the doors closed and security guards with shotguns took up position. We were warned no to go more than three blocks in three different directions unless we particularly wanted to be robbed. A few people at the hostel were robbed at gunpoint, having ignored those instructions.

      By the time I went back in 2005, things had changed entirely. The doors stayed open, the guards were gone, and there was just the one road that you wouldn’t want to stroll too far down. And the improvements kept coming. Calle Regina turned from a dodgy street into a cool and hip place to spend the evening. Garibaldi was cleaned up. DF became a different city for tourists and residents alike, for the better.


  3. Tony Blair? That’s one I never would have thought of. Blair was seen (from my side of the pond) as “George Bush’s poodle” and a “third way” liberal… i.e., all too willing to buy neo-liberalism. I see AMLO as willing to work with the establishment (not only Carlos Slim was involved in that Historic Center revitalization, but Cardinal Rivera, the “informal vendor’s union” and even the Sex Workers’ union. Just getting them all in the same room was an amazing feat), but then, the establishment here long ago made its peace with the Revolution. Not sure I see him being co-opted by the “powers that be” so much as co-opting them.

    By the way, I see that claim that AMLO is somehow connected to narcotics dealers quite often. This sounds like those claims that the Cardenas family still profits (or ever did profit) from the 1938 oil expropriation… no logical proof ever submitted.


    • Needless to say, the basis of my comparison with Blair is on the domestic front, rather than the international. I don’t forsee AMLO invading any Middle Eastern countries any time soon.

      I think it’s fair to say that they both come from positions further to the left than on the platforms they campaigned. They both gained office after an eighteen year period of right wing-ish rule (the Tories from ’79 to ’97 and PAN/PRI since democracy was ‘restored’ in Mexico in 2000) and in both cases socialism was largely equated with communism and was generally demonised in ‘decent society’. Both of them had to build a party to overcome that demonisation – from scratch in AMLO’s case, which was probably an easier task than Blair had in reforming Labour into New Labour. And they were both extremely successful in attracting votes from every section of the electorate, from rich to poor. Blair won three elections – two landslides and even the third (post Iraq invasion) was comfortable.

      I think they are both very pragmatic politicians too, willing to work with the traditional ‘enemies’ of the working classes to create a fairer society with improved infrastructure, working conditions and public services. They govern from the left of centre rather than on a wing. Private money was welcomed into public funded projects. As opposed to the Chavez/Maduro policy of simply grabbing whatever they can get their hands on. They’ve both shown that they are willing to engage with very disparate groups of society to include as many voices as possible when determining the direction of policy. And both worked hard on legislation for various equality programs.

      Have I convinced you of the merits of my comparison? You’ll no doubt have some reservations.As I said, there’s always more dissimilarities than similarities. But seeing as comparing AMLO to other political figures is officially a thing right now, I thought I’d join in. And Tony is, in my opinion, as good a comparison as one will find.

      As an aside, Blair was a pretty decent PM domestically. As good as we’ve had since Attlee, perhaps. But his legacy will forever be stained with Iraq. Rightly so, I guess. It’s a shame, because his contributions to the current Brexit debate are intelligent, rational and – as ever – pragmatic. And largely ignored, because…well, Iraq. And we are rapidly approaching a point where there is room for a new centrist party, something he would be in an ideal position to help found. Except for, you know…Iraq.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I often measure incoming politicianms by their supporters’ expectations. The fact that all of my Mexican hard left friends have abandoned AMLO as a compromiser gives me a lot of hope.


    • The ability to engage and compromise is everything in a leader. If he passes that test, he’ll do ok. And things could always be worse…

      (waves in general direction at nation immediately to the north)


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