The ascent of the new Mexican president perplexed the business and financial world. As the Financial Times resumed in a recent commentary: “the popular power of López Obrador agitates the markets”. The center-left leader, which assumed the power, plans to govern on the basis of plebiscites to the population, in what was qualified by the English paper as a sort of “participative democracy which could put the investments into risk”(12/3).
Curiously, the large demonstrations leaded by the yellow vests which are shocking France have incorporated, along with the demission of the French president Macron, the claim in favor of using the mandatory referendum before the fundamental government measures. The conducting thread that unites the Gaul country with the Aztec one is that we assist to a decomposing and crumbling of their political regimes, of the traditional domination system and its institutions in the frame of a convulsed scenario dominated by the world capitalist crisis, in full development. The turn to the left in Mexico represents a counter point in relation to the triumph of Bolsonaro, which shows a Latin American – and let’s add a world – volatile scenario, with oscillations of one and other sign. There’s no use talking about a definite political tendency.
The “markets” had already received an advance of this line of government before the decision of cancelling a 13 billion dollar airport project which was already in construction. The measure was taken after a “consultation to the people”, disposed by the government: a first sample of the “participative democracy” it proclaims. The investors, to whom some incoming government officials have assured that the project would continue, were shocked, despite the promises that they will pay the financial obligations completely.
During the two hours that his allocution lasted at the moment of taking possession of his charge, López Obrador announced a detailed government agenda with more than a hundred proposals, which included an increase in pensions, the creation of a hundred universities, large public works and a health system, as in the Nordic countries. Among his plans it is to create refineries in order not to depend from the importations coming from the United States and to aim a Mexican “energetic sovereignty”.
Although, it is an incognita where the resources will come from, even more when López Obrador got himself into trouble by promising not to increase the debt in real terms and to cut taxes. Moreover, he talks of fiscal prudence and even of an austerity budget, which reveals the inconsistencies of “his” government plan.
López Obrador claims that the financing of his plans will come from a cut in non-essential expenses and by putting an end to corruption. But it still stands the main bleeding which is the payment of the debt services itself and the concessions to capitalist companies in different areas of the economic activity. On the other hand, he declared against pursuing and submitting to justice processes the officials implicated in previous crimes. This amnesty policy before the corrupted, in which all powers of the State are compromised, caused grief among his own followers.
The contradictions are in open view. He promised a deep and radical change and an end to the neoliberal model. But he doesn’t pretend, though, to cancel the petroleum privatization (only to review contracts), with all the harm it represents to Mexico the privation of the present real high petroleum rent and the fact the Yankee companies operate in both sides of the border, which privileges the non-conventional exploitation in Texas. If he proposes to build refineries, in order to avoid the importation of sub-products, he will hardly find international support for that, only if he would promote subsidies, because the refining is the less profitable part of the chain. It is not in his calculation to increase taxes on the benefits (extraordinary) of the petroleum, energy, nor private health companies either.
Promoter of the internal market, López Obrador does not pretend, nevertheless, to break the free trade agreement with the United States and Canada, which puts him contrary to the Latin American unity as strategy to reach the national autonomy. Moreover, he was one of the artificers of the new treaty, adapting to the Trump’s exigencies.
The team of López Obrador has cleared they have priority in having good relations with the American imperialism. The coming government has made all possible to avoid any challenge to the calls of the American ruler for Mexico to pay the border wall, to his attacks against the desperate Central American migrants, or his demands for Mexico to reject them from its south border or to give them shelter for a prolonged time while their applications to US are processed.
The incoming chancellor, Marcelo Ebrard, proposed to the US the implementation of what he called a “Marshall Plan” for the North Central America Triangle. This “investment and construction” plan would be aimed to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. According to the pose, Mexico would absorb a great part of the Central American migration, at least while the applications to US are processed. At the same time, a public works’ program in the impoverished southern Mexico will be carried out. Ebrard has proposed an initial contribution of the American government of at least a billion dollar yet we will have to wait which is the answer from the White House to the proposal.
But where this contradiction is greater is regarding the violence and the struggle against insecurity and drug traffic. It is a key question, which grew to unprecedented levels. The year will end with the largest number of assassinations since there are records. Until October, the authorities counted 28 thousand.
López Obrador poses that the way out is to reinforce the presence of the army in the streets. It is a 180º turn regarding his promises just a few months ago. Moreover, López Obrador expects to create a new military body, the National Guard. Morena, his party, will have to drive a Constitution reform which requires a qualified majority in the Congress. This orientation is promoted when it’s clear the failure in the militarization that is being implemented for more than a decade. Since 2006, when Felipe Calderón assumed the presidency, the Army and the Navy has dealt with the country’s security. In some states they substituted the police in fact. Far from diminishing, the problem has been aggravated. The National Commission of Human Rights has documented dozens of instances in which the Army and the Navy have participated in extra-judicial assassinations, torture and forced disappearances, including their widely acknowledged participation in the Tlatlaya slaughter and the disappearance and probable assassination of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa.
The reinforcement of the army power must be appreciated in a more general context. López Obrador aims to stand a Bonapartist regime, of personal power, as an exceptional resource in order to pilot a deep decomposition of the political regime, governing by force of plebiscites and a militarization, which will be used, when it comes in handy, against the social protest and the political opposition. It’s important to point out that the plebiscites convened until now are minority: barely the one percent of the registered voters. This “direct democracy” is a great factor of political manipulation of the popular will, in which the Executive selects the topics that are submitted to consultation and the terms of it.
The businessmen wager is to mark the field and enclosing the government in order to establish a “modus Vivendi” with the new administration and to cut out some its stinging proposals.
The new president of Mexico has given signs that he can contemporize as he showed in the six years the governed the capital of the country. For the moment, López Obrador has given clues in that direction by naming Alfonso Romo, a man of the private sector, as chief of cabinet and the presence of technocrats as Carlos Urzúa in the Finances Ministry. In his cabinet there are representatives of this “power mafia” which he has criticized so much. The chief of State comes from calming the markets when his party intended to introduce a norm in the Senate in order to limit the banks’ commissions, which produced a Stocks shaking. In the same way, his cabinet is already taking action in order to cool down and block other projects in order to force the government to ask for the consent of the indigenous communities before giving mining concessions.
Meanwhile, the bourgeoisie has not deprived itself from exert its pressure from the first day of government, which was strongly felt in the markets. The peso is its lowest level in five months, the stocks shares market retreated and the yields of the ten year bonds emitted by Mexico are at the maximum in a decade.
The distance between the problems Mexico and the Morena’s program is huge, even from a reformist point of view. Mexico, in the beards of the United States, is affected more than anyone by the international economic war and the impact of the American and world crisis. Mexico enters in a convulsive transition. The ascent of López Obrador is the first chapter of a real severe crisis, which announces serious political and social clashes.