Monday, July 21, 2014
dr. lópez obrador has a cure for you
I thought the circus had come to town.
A stage had been erected on the village plaza. Chairs were set out in tidy rows. Loud, distorted music filled the air.
It wasn't a circus. But I was close. A presidential candidate had come to town. Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The two-time loser in his attempt to be president of Mexico. Affectionately known by his own acronym -- AMLO.
I do not buy his particular brand of snake oil. But many Mexicans do. After his razor thin loss in 2006, he had himself inaugurated as Legitimate President in a populist ceremony in Mexico City's giant public square -- though the election results said otherwise.
Some people still consider him as their wronged and moral leader. And a few of them showed up in San Patricio on a very hot Sunday afternoon. For people to brave the 97 degree heat (with a matching pair of humidity trousers) for a political speech means the person is either an avid fan -- or a blogger in need of a story.
But AMLO was not in San Patricio to reminisce with the troops of his pretender presidency. He was here to seek support for his role as the William Jennings Bryan of Mexico -- a third shot at the elusive presidency.
That analogy runs deeper than it first seems. Like Bryan, AMLO is on a moral crusade. I know that most Mexican politicians rail against corruption in their speeches. For AMLO, the term "corruption" peppers every other paragraph. And most of his disdain is aimed at the current occupant of the presidency.
He is more competent than fiery in his speeches. But the acid in his voice whenever he mentions President Peña Nieto is not the least bit subtle. He appears to have no respect for the man's reform platform.
In fact, he argues that Peña Nieto is one of the most corrupt politicians Mexico has experienced because he is trading away Mexico's patrimony to foreign interests. If you do not have your Mexican political code book open, that means the president is allowing the United States to control Mexico's oil. For people enamored with the Mexican Revolution, them's fightin' words.
A case can be made against Mexico modernizing its deep-sea oil capabilities, but AMLO is not interested in that type of debate. There is a bloody shirt to be waved, and he is in the ring flying it as a banner above his early entry into the 2018 presidential election. Reactionary socialism is a sight to be witnessed.
But he is doing it with an ever-decreasing power base. In 2006, he had a broad center-left coalition. Much of it came apart by the time of his 2012 run when he ran as a left-wing candidate. But even the main partner of that campaign, his own PRD, tired of his increasingly obsessive need for control.
So, he took his football and left the PRD, setting up his a new political party -- the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA). That is why he was in our little village. Trying to stir up the political blood of my neighbors.
The handful of people who showed up in the heat were duly stirred. To me, he seemed like a cross between Ross Perot and Ralph Nader. A man who was once popular, but who increasingly talks more and more only to himself. Like Bryan.
At least, I got a story out of it. And a bit of sun.