What “left” do they speak of? From the Zapatista perspective, the López Obrador regime appears to be on the right.

The author updates the analysis of the Mexican government regime, which is presented internationally with a propagandistic image of “left” but which is closer to a capitalist populism with a poorly disguised authoritarian tendency.

President López Obrador handed the baton to Claudia Sheinbaum on September 7 when she was elected presidential candidate for the MORENA party. Photo: Claudia Sheinbaum’s Facebook page.

In 2005, in its document “The (impossible) geometry? of power in Mexico”, the EZLN characterized López Obrador’s project as center, that is, moderate right-wing. In 2018, when verbally presenting the first version of their analysis entitled “300”, the then Subcomandante Galeano (today Captain Marcos) said that they had been wrong in thinking that the PRI would defraud López Obrador, but what they had not been wrong about was that the option further to the right won.

Today’s Zapatismo has always been on the left of the Mexican political spectrum: for freedom, democracy and justice. It demanded democracy from the PRI regimes (in fact it declared war and took up arms against the PRI government of Salinas de Gortari). It demanded justice from the PAN regimes, under whose government the San Andres Accords were betrayed. And with Obradorism, he has kept a healthy distance since the times of the Party of the Democratic Revolution to the current government of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), because they have assumed a liberal posture that favors aggression against indigenous territories, like the Mexican liberals of the 19th century, today with megaprojects of militarized infrastructure that represent an internal colonialism in Mexican indigenous territories.

Today it is necessary to update the analysis of this regime, which presents a propagandistic image of itself as “leftist” or at least progressive at the international level, while offering the Mexican oligarchy and international capital, mainly from the United States, investment facilities and profits that have made the Mexican macroeconomy one of the best-performing, according to the experts in the field of capitalist efficiency.

With the vote of 35% of the electoral roll, the official party: Morena has just imposed itself over 65% of the registered citizens (40% who did not vote and 25% who voted for the two opposition candidacies). A 65% of registered citizens, plus the rest of Mexicans, will be governed by a regime that intends to fill the “empty signifier pueblo” with a narrative in which they, a winning minority, are an overwhelming majority that has crushed “the conservatives” and has a mandate to fulfill the sacred will of the leader, without counterweights or checks and balances.

The ideology of this party is defined by the charismatic leader who founded it, from the followers of an electoral movement that previously competed three times for the presidency. López Obrador shaped this ideology on a reformed Christian moral base (that is, with Calvinist and Lutheran referents, highly compatible with capitalism) that advocates “austerity” understood as poverty and luxury as sin (translated into political terms as “republican austerity,” and its political version of sin is “corruption”). This Christian morality also has its political version of the double standard typical of conservative Christians: the unforgivable sin is only that of others, but it is indulgent with itself and its own.

The other element of the “humanist” ideology is a constant invocation to the nineteenth-century Mexican liberalism, with a fetishized appeal to Benito Juarez, who made the “Lutheran” reform in Mexico, that is, “freed the land from dead hands” to put it on the open land market, both those of the Catholic Church and those of indigenous peoples and communities, dispossessed of their communal lands, legally respected by the Crown during the viceroyalty. With regard to this liberalism, López Obrador uses a double standard also: he proposes it as a model of austerity and honesty, but betrays his liberal and republican principles, such as as respect for the tripartite division of power and civic-political liberties, which for the Obradorist government are below its historical destiny of “getting the merchants out of the temple.” In other words, while verbally excoriating them as “oligarchy,” he simultaneously allows them ample opportunities for their enrichment. Carlos Slim’s fortune grew 50 percent. Furthermore, he forgets the civilianism of Juarez in favor of militarism. Regarding the liberal government of laws (rule of law), the Mexican president is of the opposite opinion; “political authority is above the law.”

The third ideological element of Obradorism is the revolutionary PRI nationalism (as in the era of Luis Echeverría), which serves to stage a defense of sovereignty, with rather demagogic gestures such as asking the Spanish Crown to apologize for the conquest of Tenochtitlán in the 16th century or defending General Cienfuegos, former head of the National Defense, arrested in the United States, accused of links to crime, and then transferred to Mexico and exonerated from any investigation. By contrast, Mexico plays the role of a third world country and its National Guard plays the role of auxiliary to the U.S. immigration police in Mexican territory, containing migrants from Latin America and the Caribbean who seek to reach U.S. territory en masse. There were even migrants who died in a fire, due to the criminal negligence of the authorities, leaving them locked up in a prison they call a “shelter.” The consequences were impunity and oblivion.

Where is the supposedly “leftist” policy of López Obrador’s government that will be continued by his successor, Claudia Sheinbaum?

With respect to the monarchy, the reference point from which the left was positioned in the French Revolution, authoritarian or illiberal politics, which some analysts classify as a hybrid regime, the so-called “Fourth Transformation” is not to the left, but to the right, in defense of the principle of authority, the concentration of power in the Executive, the disabling of the other powers and counterbalances: a subordinate legislative branch as in the times of the PRI and a judicial branch that will now be constitutionally reformed and politically captured. That, and the disappearance of autonomous institutions such as the National Institute for Access to Information (INAI) are the feats proposed by the so-called “Plan C”, a package of anti-liberal and anti-democratic reforms.

With respect to capitalism: López Obrador’s government has subordinated itself in practice to the rules of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Canada, based on which it has built, in violation of laws and environmental safeguards and good faith consultation with indigenous communities, mega-projects such as the so-called Mayan Train and the Inter-Oceanic Corridor in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, which the governments of the National Action Party (PAN) and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) were unable to impose in the face of resistance from the defenders of the territory. The popularity of the current president destroyed these resistances, and developmentalist capitalism advanced, with ecocide and destruction of the community fabric. This was recognized by Noam Chomsky in a videoconference organized by the government’s organic intelligentsia, at least some intellectuals are not complacent with the host. 

Moreover, those of this six-year term are mega-projects operated by the armed forces. More than a leftist transformation, they seem to be characteristics of a “passive revolution” that took up some demands of the working class (wages and money delivered individually as “social programs”), but promoted from power in the interests of big capital: megaprojects, militarization, macroeconomic order and discipline and, above all, discipline of the labor force, politically demobilized.

With regard to feminism, which will now be the propaganda piece, given the fact that for the first time the presidency will be held by a woman, suffice it to say that there has been no intention or interest on the part of this government to attend to the women who are looking for their children, the madres buscadoras “searching mothers,” as we call them in Mexico, nor to the mothers and sisters of the victims of feminicide, nor in general to the victims, their families or human rights defenders. On the contrary, in the face of denunciations of rights violations that make them uncomfortable for questioning their post-truth narrative that “human rights are no longer violated in Mexico,” they have accused mothers and defenders of serving “conservatives” or foreign governments. They are very annoyed by international human rights organizations and reject them as interference in national sovereignty. He called members of the European Parliament “sheep” who follow Mexican conservatives.

One case not difficult to read about in the press is that of Cecy Flores, a mother who was looking for remains and whom López Obrador refused to receive at the National Palace. She located in Mexico City a place where apparently human remains were being cremated; the government said hours later that they had analyzed the remains and they were animal remains. Just a few days ago some media reported that it had always been, and the Attorney General’s Office aknowledged that they were human remains, but the note was lost among the news of the electoral expectations.

In addition, according to reports by journalist Laura Castellanos, later confirmed in documents from the National Defense Secretariat obtained by the “Guacamaya” hackers, feminist collectives have been spied on and followed with counterinsurgency tactics designed for the guerrilla left of the last century. Likewise, feminists recall that in the streets of Mexico City they have been “encapsulated” by Mexico City police (sometimes female police officers), police who, under Sheinbaum’s government leadership, have received riot training from Israeli experts. Not surprising then, are the fire extinguisher gases used against women in these demonstrations, and the campaigns on digital networks that seek to portray them as the violent ones, and the policewomen as their victims.

To call this MORENA government and the one that will succeed it in a few weeks “left” is to be deceived by disinformation, propaganda and post-truth. As well as by the populist narrative that now is trying to dismantle liberal democracy as “neoliberal” and “corrupt” in order to re-edit a country where elections are always won, systematically, by the party in power, as in the best times of the PRI.

Unless illiberal and post-democratic regimes can be considered leftist, this capitalism of militarized accumulation and masses mobilized by successful, albeit false, narratives can be better placed on the right than in any sort of left.

Finally, the morning press conferences, defended by his organic communicators as an exercise of accountability in which the president debates, have been an Orwellian exercise of hating the enemy, of canceling the critics from the social arena: issues such as the thousands of disappeared people, the executed people, and the femicides have not been dealt with truthfully. Nor is there any mention of the aggressions against the press that make us the most dangerous country in the hemisphere for freedom of the press, the violence against territorial and human rights defenders, the migrants, first and foremost Mexicans, since Mexico is a leading country in the expulsion of its population to the United States and entire families fleeing from violence, as well as migrants from other Latin American countries. 

Nor have the real figures of the pandemic – 800,000 deaths caused by Covid or by other illnesses not treated during the generalized contagion -, the ecocides caused by the megaprojects, the paramilitary and criminal violence against indigenous communities, mainly the Zapatista communities and their companions of the National Indigenous Congress, occupied any space in the morning press conferences. These issues are not being discussed, and when they are, it is to slander and defame non-governmental organizations and others, accusing them of “receiving foreign money” to attack the Mexican government. Human rights organizations have asked AMLO to stop criminalizing them. 

The most egregious case was the campaign against the parents of children with cancer who demanded medicines (in a six-year term of office of practically dismantling public health and shortage of medicines that forced many people to seek care in precarious clinics next to private pharmacies). Those protesting parents of children with cancer, like the feminists and other groups of the few who managed to mobilize, were accused of being manipulated by the right wing, conservatives or foreign governments. He has accused the Zapatistas of calling not to vote for him, which they have never done; he has constantly criminalized feminists. Mexican journalist Laura Castellanos documented how the Obrador government used counterinsurgency tactics against feminist collectives like those used by the PRI against the leftist guerrillas of the 20th century.

We would be wrong to pass these capitalist regimes of as “leftist”, with poorly disguised authoritarian tendencies, because the disrepute that real socialism implied for some would be confirmed by these capitalist populisms, and we would leave for the future the idea that the left cannot but be anti-democratic and dictatorial.

Original text by Javier Hernández Alpizar published in El Salto on June 30th, 2024.
Translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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