Eduardo Alvarez/Contributing Writer
The elections held in Mexico on Sunday, July 1, saw the rise of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, an anti-establishment populist who uses the masses’ emotion as his pedestal.
Some have called him the Mexican Donald Trump, and I’m afraid they’re right. His victory is tightly correlated with President Donald Trump’s tenure in the White House.
In other words, it’s our fault.
Since the start, Trump has antagonized Mexico: its people and government. He has called them rapists as well as other insulting words, and has now started a tariff war. Naturally, this has inspired anti-American sentiments within Mexican citizens, especially anti-Trump sentiments.
Obrador, a long time leftist populist, did not miss his chance. He had run for Mexico’s top office five times before and had been soundly defeated each time.
What exactly changed? It’s true that Mexico’s current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, has been notoriously inept and unpopular, but the injury to Mexicans’ national pride, eloquently defended by Obrador, shifted the tide.
One piece of evidence is the fact that the Left has grown weak in Latin America in the past years. Just a few weeks ago, Iván Duque of the Colombian Right, was elected president of that country. And the Right has also won in Argentina, Brasil, Ecuador, and other nations.
If Mexican politics do not follow that of Latin America, then they most likely react to that of their powerful northern neighbor.
This is not to say that Obrador will be a bad president. It may be the case that his policies are exactly what Mexico needs. His political party, MORENA, a coalition of leftist organizations, advocates for the creation of new social programs inherent in social democratic governments.
This will be more feasible because, for the first time in a long time, a Mexican president’s political party will also have control over the legislature.
And of course, this election further breaks the hold on power exercised by the Institutional Revolutionary Party for over 70 years.
But what worries me is that Obrador is a populist, and the track record of populists respecting institutions has been poor. The probable worsening of relations with the U.S. is also disheartening, especially when the two countries would do far better in tackling drug trafficking if they worked together.
It’s a situation that could have been avoided had President Trump acted tactically. Now we can only hope that Obrador’s government makes good on its promises without weakening the already faulty democracy of Mexico.
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