Jul 23, 2018
On July 1, Mexico elected a new president, the candidate of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), Andres Manuel López Obrador.
López Obrador has been running for president for almost twenty years – this is his fourth try. In 2006, many people thought he won, but a seemingly corrupt election gave the victory to his opponent. This time, people across classes and regions in Mexico were so fed up with the corruption, violence, poverty, unemployment, and lack of opportunities that they decided to support someone like López Obrador, who seems to stand for a change.
At the end of the election day, when it had become clear that López Obrador was the winner, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to celebrate. People were so happy because they expected that the new president would be different.
Right after López Obrador was declared winner, he gave a powerful speech promising to create big opportunities for young people, programs for elderly people and for single mothers, and that no one would have to emigrate from the country to have a decent life. He also said that he would help the indigenous people of Mexico, many of whom live in isolated poverty, and who have been long forgotten by previous governments.
He said he would get resources for people by fighting corruption, the impunity of officials, and the drug gangs. But as much as the corrupt officials steal, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the wealth the giant companies and banks, many of them from the United States, exploit from the Mexican population.
And on election night, he said that there wouldn’t be expropriations or confiscations of business property of any kind. He made it clear to the propertied class that he would not touch their wealth. But then how will the money be available to meet his promises? If rich people are not forced to give up some of their wealth, where are all the good things López Obrador promised supposed to come from?
It is understandable that after decades of rule by politicians who were obviously in the pockets of the rich, ordinary people in Mexico would be hopeful about this new president. But to actually deal with the problems faced by poor people in Mexico would require going up against the rich, against the corporations, and against the U.S., which has dominated the Mexican economy for more than a century. That can only come from the working class mobilizing, organizing, and fighting to put forward a policy in its interests.
López Obrador has never been a leader of the working class. He is a lifelong politician, starting out in the PRI, the longtime ruling party of Mexico. Since then, he has made coalitions with many different groups, including, in this election, a right-wing Christian party opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage. He is squarely in the camp of the ruling class. To make their own fight, workers will need their own leaders, and will have to throw off their illusions that politicians like López Obrador, can make the changes for them.