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.

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The Gamble

In May 2005 when I stepped on a plane for Mexico, having quit my job and sold most of my (non digital) earthly belongings, I did so without really taking much of a risk. Most of my earthly belongings didn’t really mean so much to me any more, and the ones that did are easily re-obtained. If things didn’t work out, I had a home to return to and , more importantly, a choice of decent paying jobs to walk back into. I was taking the smallest of gambles, and it was worth a roll of the dice. It did indeed turn out that I had rolled a pair of sixes – I had a fantastic six years in Mexico.

In a few months I’ll be doing it all over again. This time, I’ll be going the whole hog. This time I leave with the intention of staying in Mexico for good. This time, though, is perhaps more of a gamble. There’s much more of a necessity to make it work in Mexico. I can’t keep chopping and changing my mind, crossing the Atlantic every few years. On top of that, I’m not a young chap just into my 30’s this time. I’ll be 40. Not old, I’d like to think. But it is an age where health care, pensions, retirement and a settled career aren’t frivolous matters that can be worried about tomorrow.

I’m looking at global events more carefully. The impending collapse of the Euro, followed by the collapse of the European economies is worrisome. It’d affect me if I stay in the UK. How will it affect me in Mexico? I find it hard to believe the ripples of a Eurozone meltdown wouldn’t have a profound affect on the US and Mexican economies. I’m also watching the Mexican presidential election with interest. I might get to vote in one of them one day. But not this one. Fortunately. Who to pick? The sleaze bag who has the most transparent agenda for six years of corruption?  Or AMLO, who is at least a conviction politician – even if his policies do threaten to plunge the country into an economic abyss. From 2006 to 2010, I’d never have imagined, for even a moment, that I’d ever consider AMLO my preferred choice. But I think he probably is. Or maybe not. I don’t know. Phew….I don’t have a vote to cast.

Going back to Mexico isn’t a bad decision though. In fact, I think for more and more people in the UK, moving abroad is a sound decision. It’s possibly the only decision, if the desired outcome is a comfortable retirement. Life in the UK has become extortionately expensive. I suspect more than a few corporate pension pots are going to be found to be empty too. A lot of Brits of my generation are going to find themselves selling up shop to be able to live on a decent income in their golden years. The one bonus of the UK’s hyper expensive economy is that the value of a house here will, largely by itself, fund a pretty nice retirement in a Latin American country.

Moving to a country with political and economic stability is a key factor though. Many surveys have shown modern Brits have the urge to upsticks and leave. We have a long history of doing so, although in the old days it was known as colonization rather than emigration. But most people are stay put. It’s their loss. But, hopefully my gain. We’ll start to find out in just a few more months. I just have my fingers crossed that, whoever wins this election, Mexico continues to enjoy what have been twelve years of comparative economic stability. The photo below is mine, from 2006.



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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