Destaque Internacional - Situation Reports - Year VII - No. 174 - Buenos Aires / Madrid - August 15, 2005 - Responsible: Javier González.-

Mexico: López Obrador, A Domestic Magic Spell, and Foreign Policy

The presidential candidate of the Left is adopting an ambiguous profile, one lacking ideological definitions, in order to attract the decisive votes of the political center. He makes promises to try to seduce the middle and lower classes, and he uses caution in economic matters to earn the sympathy of businessmen.

1. A year before the Mexican presidential elections, which will take place in July 2006, there are great international expectations regarding the eventual electoral results in that important Latin American nation, which could be decisive for the political direction of the continent. Mexico is the largest Latin American economic power, with more than 100 million inhabitants, with almost two million square kilometers, and with its position as the principal Latin American neighbor of the United States.

The international Left does not hide the hopes that it places in the candidate Manuel López Obrador, former mayor of Mexico City and member of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD). That is what was witnessed last July during the last meeting of the Forum of São Paulo, of which the PRD is one of the founding members along with Lula’s Brazilian Workers Party, the Communist Party of Fidel Castro’s Cuba, etc.

On the other hand, with the Lula government sinking in the middle of a sea of corruption, the Left’s "gradualist" wing, which emphasizes the revolution of mentalities, is looking for a leader of international prominence to take his place. It is not certain that the Mexican leader would succeed in playing that role, but at least this is what they would try to do.

2. López Obrador is adopting an ambiguous profile, without ideological definitions, in order to be able to attract the decisive votes of the political center. He resorts to demagogic promises to seduce the middle and lower classes, and he acts with sufficient caution in economic matters so as to earn the sympathy of businessmen. The leftist candidate flavors that political menu with a conciliatory and smiling image. In this way he is exercising a kind of domestic magic spell with which he attracts an important part of the electorate and darkens the character of the other candidates.

The "Subcommander Marcos," leader of the rebellious Zapatistas of the southern state of Chiapas, bordering with Guatemala, has just accused López Obrador of having "betrayed" the natives and "forgotten" the "socialist ideology." With those criticisms, he contributes to reinforcing the magic spell of the candidate of the PRD to the degree to which he makes him appear as a moderate in the eyes of Mexico’s political centrists. The strategy of López Obrador, taking into account different situations, calls to mind that of the Brazilian candidate Lula in 2000, who, thanks to the artifices of propaganda, was transformed into a "new Lula" with an ambivalent profile, similar to the one which the Mexican candidate now adopts, which permitted him to arrive at the Brazilian presidency.

3. While López Obrador consolidates the domestic magic spell with the above mentioned ambiguity – avoiding definitions as much as possible – he tries to present a similar image to foreign countries, having constrained himself to contradicting any resemblance to the socialist-populist Chávez of Venezuela.

Nevertheless, the Ninth National Congress of his party, the PRD, recently approved a "resolution" giving unconditional support to the Castro regime and to the "Cuban revolution," alleging against all evidence that this, "as always" (sic), "continues to be an example of dignity." At the same time it censured the present Mexican government for having voted against the Cuban regime in the United Nations Human Rights Commission and for its "foreign policy" allegedly "docile and subservient to the American government." In another resolution on foreign policy, approved in the same Congress, the PRD declared that it "unites with and supports in a spirit of solidarity" the World Social Forum (FSM), an anarchistic-revolutionary network founded in Porto Alegre, which it characterizes as a "great movement" that today would represent "the most important world option" in the "search for new alternatives" for the Revolution.

4. López Obrador has announced a tour through Latin America in the near future, which will give him the opportunity to present his thoughts on foreign policy and, in particular, to explain that surprising unconditional support of the PRD for Communist Cuba and the World Social Forum. We would deeply desire that in an analogous way the Mexican media, the religious, political, and civic leaders, and public opinion of that country in general, would have the opportunity to interrogate López Obrador on vital domestic issues of his country, such as what says with regard to private property and to private initiative, so that as a candidate he will be seen as needing to move toward definitions, with which he will not be able to continue maintaining his present magic spell, made through smiles and ambiguous promises.