Author Topic: Mexico-US matters  (Read 275851 times)

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile

DougMacG

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 11281
    • View Profile
Re: LA Times: Mexico's housing debacle
« Reply #651 on: November 27, 2017, 08:55:07 AM »
http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-mexico-housing/#nws=mcnewsletter

Another great lesson never learned.

Mexico promised affordable housing for all. Instead it created many rapidly decaying slums

I can't remember, did President John F Kennedy tell the Economics Club that a great big government cronying up with the most powerful corporate interests will lift all boats?

I can tell you from the inside that the housing business is a people business.  People respond to incentives and a sense of ownership, not entitlement.  You can give people free houses and free housing all day long but they will treat as their own if it is earned.

Liberals always want more government housing money and projects, without questioning the results.  Why don't we look at areas where housing and communities succeed and copy those strategies instead?

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
MLO proposes narco amnesty
« Reply #652 on: December 04, 2017, 07:49:41 PM »
Forecast Update

In Stratfor's 2017 Third-Quarter Forecast, we wrote that U.S. pressure to restructure the North American Free Trade Agreement could push Mexican voters toward populist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Recently, Lopez Obrador suggested he would consider providing amnesty to cartel leaders to stem violence in the country. But considering how vital Mexico's cooperation is to the United States' international counternarcotics strategy, the move wouldn't be accepted lightly by Mexico's northern neighbor.
 
See 2017 Third-Quarter Forecast

Mexico's presidential frontrunner has proposed providing amnesty to cartel leaders to reduce violence, but the proposal would be virtually impossible to implement. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador made the proposal — which would be a significant departure from previous administrations' approaches to security — during a campaign rally Dec. 2 in Quechultenango, Guerrero state. But it is important to note that the suggestion is just that, a suggestion, and may not translate into actual policy should Lopez Obrador be elected. But even if the candidate does attempt to grant cartel bosses amnesty, a mountain of institutional and logistical obstacles will likely block his efforts.

By claiming that his administration will approach public security differently, Lopez Obrador may be trying to appeal to the rural populations hit hardest by violence in recent years. But just how differently the candidate can actually approach security is an altogether different question. Lopez Obrador has said in the past he would move away from a military-centric security approach but has walked back from that statement in recent months, likely realizing the impracticality of the proposal. Similarly, even if Lopez Obrador believes that amnesty would be an effective option against crime, he will soon be faced with the impracticality of it as well.

Granting amnesty to cartel leaders would encounter stiff resistance — both in Mexico and in the United States. Mexico's cooperation against organized crime is a key part of the United States' international counternarcotics strategy and domestic security policies —particularly under the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump. As president, Lopez Obrador and his administration would have to carefully weigh the benefits of negotiating to demobilize criminal groups against the risk of antagonizing a security-minded U.S. presidential administration. In addition, amnesty proposals would lead to major domestic political resistance. And if the Mexican Congress determined that an amnesty law were necessary to demobilize criminal groups, passing such legislation would be all but impossible.

Even if it were legally possible to grant criminal groups amnesty in Mexico, choosing which criminals to give amnesty to would risk opening a Pandora's box full of unending requests and pressure from various criminal organizations. Mexico's criminal landscape has fragmented over the past decade, as several large cartels have broken apart under law enforcement pressure and years of turf battles. Granting any particular group amnesty in Mexico would not guarantee any immediate public security benefits.

A comparison could be drawn to the Colombian government's peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). In Colombia, the FARC's internal unity and hierarchical structure helped reduce militant attacks virtually overnight after the group enforced a unilateral ceasefire in July 2015. In Mexico, criminal gangs are highly decentralized and are driven by profit rather than ideology, which could hinder any government-sponsored negotiation to significantly curb violence at a national level. Still, Lopez Obrador's amnesty proposal cannot be dismissed. After all, it is a policy option proposed by Mexico's presidential frontrunner. There are enough obstacles to the successful implementation of any amnesty deal, however, that the attempts would likely fail.

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #653 on: December 08, 2017, 09:53:10 PM »
Highlights

    Long-term political and economic factors in Mexico have created fertile ground for a populist presidential candidate such as Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
    Lopez Obrador's rise as a leading candidate in 2018 has been spurred by the decadeslong diversification of Mexico's political system, deep-seated economic grievances and more recent events in U.S.-Mexican relations.
    Even if Lopez Obrador loses next year's election, Mexico's political system is becoming more competitive and the results of future elections will be more uncertain.

Mexico's gradual move toward populism has made headlines for more than a year. The foreign press in particular has reported extensively on the popularity of presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, creating a narrative of a recent, inexorable leftward shift among Mexican voters. The underlying reality is far more complicated. Lopez Obrador's popular approval is the product of Mexico's enduring, widespread poverty and steadily diversifying political landscape, among other broader, longer-term trends. It's also the result of prevailing, discrete events, such as the Mexican government's perceived complacency when faced with U.S. threats during talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. These dynamics will likely create a competitive presidential election in 2018, in which Lopez Obrador or a challenger from a traditional party such as the National Action Party (PAN) or the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) could narrowly clinch power. In keeping with recent history, however, whoever wins next year's election will enter office relatively weak and will struggle to implement populist policies, especially if Congress and the country's economic elites disagree with them.

A Slow Change Coming

Lopez Obrador's populist message clearly resonates with a political minority in Mexico. According to recent polls, nearly a third of Mexican voters would be willing to vote for him in July 2018. This receptiveness to populism is not a recent trend, however; it even predates Lopez Obrador's previous presidential runs in 2006 and 2012. The PRI, for example, was far more populist when it emerged in the 1920s after the Mexican revolution than it is now under President Enrique Pena Nieto. Historically, poverty and corruption have created fertile ground for populist political messages, but in recent decades, as Mexico became more economically intertwined with the United States, political leaders' enthusiasm for populism waned and the country's political parties began to favor business-friendly technocrats for president. For two decades, presidential leadership in Mexico has been primarily about keeping the status quo in domestic politics and foreign affairs, particularly in international trade.



Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
How Violence in Mexico Shapes Relations with the US
« Reply #656 on: January 25, 2018, 03:26:53 PM »
How Violence in Mexico Shapes Relations With the US
Jan 25, 2018

 
Summary

Violence in Mexico is on the rise, multiple reports show, stoking alarm both inside and outside the country. Though violence doesn’t have inherent geopolitical significance, it becomes significant when it has the potential to fundamentally alter a country’s economic trajectory, political system and international relations. In the case of Mexico, reports of increasing violence, particularly organized crime-related violence, merit a closer look because Mexico is an emerging market and harbors ambitions to get out from under the thumb of the United States.

The violence in Mexico also raises the issue of the potential for spillover into the U.S., since this would likely lead to a redefinition of the bilateral relationship. Other places in the world have higher rates of violence than Mexico, but greater scrutiny is placed on Mexico because of its proximity to the U.S. and the impact violence may have on Mexico’s emergence as an economic power.

Rising Violence and Drug Trafficking

To understand the potential impact, we must first understand the types of violence in Mexico. Media reports focus on intentional homicides as well as kidnappings, extortion and armed robberies. In tracking homicides, Mexico distinguishes between homicides in which the perpetrator intentionally seeks the death of the victim and homicides that result from reckless or negligent behavior without the intention of causing death.

Intentional homicides set a new record last year. The previous record of 22,409 was set in 2011. The number of intentional homicides had declined each year since then, but the trend reversed in 2015. In 2017, there were 25,339 intentional homicides, a 23 percent increase from the previous year and 13 percent higher than the old record.

Drug trafficking organizations are often blamed for the rise in violence in Mexico. The official statistics do not differentiate between drug- or organized crime-related killings and other homicides, but some types of homicides are characteristic of the criminal and drug trafficking organizations, or DTOs, in Mexico. Homicides involving guns – which was about two-thirds of the homicides in 2017 – have a high probability of being related to organized crime or drug traffickers. Extortion and kidnapping, along with human trafficking and sales of stolen cars, are also associated with DTOs. It is not a coincidence that the states with the most homicides and kidnappings per month and the greatest increases in homicides per month are those with a strong presence of drug trafficking activity. The high-profile victims are typically journalists and politicians, who are attractive targets for organized crime groups. Further, anecdotal evidence of mass graves, dismembered bodies, decapitations and bodies found with narco messaging all point to the work of DTOs.

Homicides in Mexico do not occur uniformly across the large territory. Baja California, Guerrero, Mexico state, Veracruz and Chihuahua rank as the most violent states with the highest incidents of intentional homicide. Other states with high homicide totals are Sinaloa, Michoacan and Jalisco. In other states, such as Colima, the number of registered homicides are low, but they have a dramatic effect due to the small population. Colima registered 93.6 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017. Baja California Sur ranks second with 69.1 deaths per 100,000 people. For perspective, the national homicide rate in Mexico is about 20.8 per 100,000 people. Other states that have lower homicide rates have noted a faster increase in those rates. Last year, intentional homicide cases rose 550 percent in Nayarit, 116 percent in Aguascalientes and 118 percent in Quintana Roo. Overall, 26 of Mexico’s 32 states recorded an increase in homicide rates in 2017.
 
(click to enlarge)
 
(click to enlarge)

As for kidnappings and extortion, the number of reported incidents has increased in the past two years, but not as quickly as homicides. Both peaked in 2013, with 1,688 kidnappings and 8,213 extortion cases, and then dropped significantly over the next two years. However, since 2015, the number of reported incidents has slowly increased. In 2017 there were 1,484 reported kidnappings and 5,649 extortion cases, both surpassing 2016 totals. Meanwhile, local human rights organizations and other observers say there is reason to believe these incidents are under-reported. Given the nature of extortion and due to anomalies observed in the data from Mexico state, those organizations may be correct.

 (click to enlarge)

Drug Trafficking Organizations and Organized Crime

The main reasons for the spike in violence are the splintering, restructuring and growing competition among the DTOs and other organized crime groups in Mexico. This fragmentation had its roots in the presidency of Felipe Calderon (2006-12), who from day one adopted an aggressive stance on drug cartels. His “kingpin strategy” focused on killing or imprisoning the heads of major cartels, which followed a hierarchical model with strong familial and neighborhood ties.

Calderon’s approach led to a surge in homicide rates from 2006 to 2011 because it created power vacuums within groups and provoked turf wars and cycles of revenge killings. In addition, security operations began targeting these illegal groups. Over the past 11 years, Mexico’s military, which has more training and better equipment than local police, has become more involved in fighting organized crime.

The current criminal organization landscape is exceptionally fluid. Many groups operate more on a local cell-based level, and their association with other groups may shift with business interests. Many of these groups not only are involved in drug trafficking but also engage in other profitable crimes, including kidnapping, assassination, auto theft, prostitution, extortion, money laundering, software piracy, resource theft and human trafficking. Some criminal organizations have incorporated areas of specialization. For instance, some DTOs on the U.S. border have assumed the role of toll collectors, exacting payment from other traffickers, while other organizations specialize in sourcing cocaine from South America. Still others focus on transit routes within Mexico and other ways to either facilitate the drug trade or augment their profits through lower-risk activities.

The number of large DTOs jumped from four in 2006 to nine in 2017, and another 45 smaller organized crime groups have been identified. Their structure is more like a consortium, where groups are different sizes and specialize in various business activities. For example, La Linea and Los Aztecas are two distinct local criminal groups that fall under the umbrella of the Juarez cartel.

Though the Sinaloa cartel is the largest and most powerful DTO in Mexico, the Jalisco New Generation cartel, which broke off from the Sinaloa cartel in 2010, has become formidable over the past two years. In a short time it has grown and strengthened enough to compete for space, resources and markets. Given the increasing overlap of territories and resources, clashes with other DTOs become more frequent and intense. This is also the case for smaller groups that may act independently or fall under larger DTOs. Some of these groups stay in the drug business, while smaller, local criminal groups remain engaged in other criminal activity such as the illicit gasoline trade. When Mexico’s current president, Enrique Pena Nieto, assumed office in December 2012, security officials estimated there were 80 to 90 smaller criminal groups in operation. The latest estimates put the number at 45, which means there still are many players competing for business in the black market.
 
(click to enlarge)

Economic Impact

Mexico needs to address the violence of DTOs for domestic economic reasons and to maintain its relationship with the United States. Violence and crime cost Mexico approximately 18 percent of its gross domestic product, according to a 2017 report by the Institute for Economics and Peace. The figure factors in a wide range of related costs, including spending on security by the government and businesses and lost income due to a homicide in the family. In terms of government spending, the institute estimates that Mexico spends 6.8 percent of its GDP to help contain violence nationwide.

Growing violence may also discourage investment, according to the Bank of Mexico. The bank recently ranked Mexico’s security as 5.5 on a scale of 1-7, with 7 representing the greatest risk to investment. Private sector estimates indicate that investments may fall by up to 5 percent because of violence, with impacts already being noted anecdotally.

Despite those warnings, a large-scale exodus of companies from Mexico in response to violence has not occurred. Many businesses there understand the security risks and factor in those costs. The point at which violence becomes intolerable will largely depend on the companies’ ability to operate profitably over the long term. Any prolonged decline in revenue or absence of investment would, of course, hurt the economy.

Relations With the U.S.

In terms of foreign policy, the violence in Mexico will primarily affect its relationship with the United States. Besides their shared border, the U.S. is the main destination for Mexican-produced opium and for cocaine transited through Mexico, and is the source of illegal weapons for Mexico’s DTOs. Drug trafficking between the two countries dates back to the early 20th century when the first opium shipments from Sinaloa made their way into the United States. Shortly thereafter, alcohol flowed to the U.S. in the wake of the Prohibition Act of 1919. The products and tactics for doing business may have changed, but not the business of smuggling.

The Mexican DTOs are the major wholesalers of illegal drugs in the United States and are increasingly gaining control of U.S. retail-level distribution through alliances with U.S. gangs. Street gangs continue to work with Mexican DTOs in Mexico, along the southwest border, and throughout the United States. These relationships are based more on location and personal and business ties than on strict affiliations with a given gang.

Mexican DTOs conduct business with a much lower profile in the U.S. than they do in Mexico to avoid engaging with security officials. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2017 National Drug Assessment notes the absence of significant spillover violence in the United States. Violence that does occur is infrequent, localized on the southwest border and mostly among traffickers. Mexican DTO activity in the United States is mainly overseen by Mexican nationals or U.S. citizens of Mexican origin. Those operating in the United States often share familial ties with, or can be traced back to, the natal region of leading cartel figures in Mexico.
 
(click to enlarge)

The U.S. and Mexico have worked closely together on border security, particularly since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But current tensions surrounding trade and immigration policies between the two countries make border security cooperation less straightforward, and the ability to strengthen such cooperation is no longer a singular issue. There is minimal spillover violence right now, but any change that causes spillover violence to rise would have massive political and geopolitical effects. The U.S. government is already studying measures for increased border controls and justifying them by vilifying Mexico. An actual spillover of violence would empower those in the United States advocating tighter border security. Right now, the U.S.-Mexico border allows for the relatively easy, free flow of trade and persons. A strong, controlled border would redefine the basic structure of this bilateral relationship.

The U.S., for its part, can try to pressure Mexico to take stronger action or pursue particular security measures. The point of leverage for this would not be a wall, as President Donald Trump has urged, since that would not be effective or practical. President Richard Nixon effectively shut down the U.S. border for several weeks in September 1969 in an attempt to stem the flow of drugs. The closed border killed local business but did little to impact the drug flow.

Perhaps more effective for the U.S. would be to limit or hinder remittances. Remittances to Mexico from people in the U.S. help to sustain or augment household income nationwide. The most recent figures from the Bank of Mexico show that from January to November 2017, remittances totaled $26.1 billion, and the year is poised to see a record high. But the move could backfire. Remittances play an even more important role in households of poorer states – Michoacan, Guerrero and Oaxaca, for example – so cutting off remittances runs the risk of driving more desperate people to join criminal groups and creating controversy within the United States. Still, remittances are a powerful card to play and may be used as a tactic with other bilateral issues, such as NAFTA, that have a greater overall impact on the U.S.

Security Options

Though it is in Mexico’s interest, particularly its economic interest, to stop drug-related violence, the key question becomes: What can the Mexican government do? The short answer is: not much. There are several strategies the Mexican government could pursue, but it faces severe constraints that will limit the effectiveness of any approach.

One obvious strategy is putting an end to criminal groups’ illicit financial activities, primarily drug trafficking and other black market activities, including fuel sales and human trafficking. The problem is that these groups have many alternative routes and means of conducting their business. Shutting down one route, point of entry or source of materials is merely a logistical problem for a criminal group. Criminal organizations have many financial resources as well as experience in logistical planning. To be effective, the government would need to conduct multiple large-scale shutdown operations simultaneously. This would be an extremely costly and difficult endeavor. The government and security forces simply don’t have the manpower and resources to conduct a sustained and effective operation of this magnitude.

Extra resources would have to come from outside the country, and the country best positioned in terms of funding, skills and expertise is the United States. But Mexico cannot accept large-scale U.S. support – especially in manpower – on its own soil. History has proved to Mexico that it must be wary of any foreign presence, that of the U.S. above all others. The government cannot risk the country’s sovereignty or increased dependence on the U.S. Therefore, from Mexico’s position, cooperation with the U.S. is best limited to primarily border cooperation, along with selective training, weapons supplies and funding.

Similarly, the idea of tackling violence by eliminating corruption is a purely theoretical option since it is no secret that, generally speaking, local police and government officials are also corrupt. Prosecution is not guaranteed and is often lax when pursued. Attempts to remove corrupt members of local police departments nationwide have failed, which in part explains why the military has assumed domestic security responsibilities. Though the targeted elimination of high-profile corruption is possible, completely cleaning the system of it is impossible without totally dismantling everything and rebuilding from the ground up.

The Mexican government faces fewer constraints in crafting regulatory frameworks for tacking criminal groups. The main obstacles the government faces here are political in nature. The current government did pursue judiciary reforms and domestic security legislation to better combat criminal groups. Both measures have been severely criticized by various political and special interest groups, citing confusion in the judiciary reforms and vagaries and loopholes for abuse of power in the domestic security legislation. Though regulatory changes fall squarely within the power of the government, the public reaction and associated political costs prevent drastic changes and full enforcement.

A final possible strategy would be to focus more on quelling violence rather than eliminating or reducing criminal activity in the country. The violence Mexico currently experiences is a symptom of the competition between criminal groups. In theory, removing this competition – in a sense creating a monopoly – would eliminate the violence that competition produces. This would involve the government aligning or tacitly supporting a dominant drug trafficking group or cluster of groups, ultimately diminishing competition. This is not a novel strategy but it certainly is a highly controversial one. It compromises the government’s power over criminal groups, and there are no guarantees that the monopoly would hold. Not to mention it’s morally questionable and wouldn’t be feasible until at least 2019. Mexico holds presidential elections on July 1, and the sitting president cannot run for re-election. A new government will be inaugurated on Dec. 1. Criminal groups will have no incentive to negotiate with the outgoing government.


Conclusion

The rise in violence in Mexico is geopolitically significant because of its potential to affect the trajectory of Mexico’s economic development and basic framework of its relationship with the United States. Given the political and resource constraints facing the Mexican government, this level of violence will likely continue to rise in 2018. During this time, anecdotal evidence will provide a strong measure of the economic impact – as will statistics, though they inherently capture the past over the present. The United States will be closely watching for any increase in spillover violence. Though the current levels do not threaten the U.S.-Mexico relationship, a sharp rise – combined with the political climate in the U.S. and tense relations over NAFTA negotiations – would help set the stage for a strong U.S. reaction that would redefine the relationship.

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
Stratfor: Mexico-- political assassinations
« Reply #657 on: March 04, 2018, 09:10:17 PM »
I've made a few posts (in English) on the Mexico thread in the Spanish language forum without posting here.  Anyway, here is this:

Mexico: Etellekt, a risk analysis consulting firm in Mexico, released its first report on political violence in the country. The data is from the past six months and identifies 83 violent acts against politicians in 25 states. Of those, a shocking 54 were assassinations of political candidates for office. We know violence in Mexico has been bad, but if nine candidates are being assassinated every month, this is even worse than we thought. Let’s evaluate the credibility of the firm and its report and find out who was assassinated

•   Finding: Etellekt specializes in political risk mitigation and campaigning. Its clients are primarily government entities at all levels and strategic business industries. It isn’t a particularly transparent organization – it does not list its physical address or its employees on its website, making it difficult to judge its credibility. Press references to the consulting firm come from a small group of regular reporters. Only the head of the company, Ruben Salazar Vazquez, is publicly recognized. The lack of transparency could be explained by the sensitivity of the company’s work. The report should be considered reliable in that other news articles throughout the year report incidents of political violence that support the final numbers in this report. Of the 54 political victims listed in the report, seven were sitting mayors, nine were former mayors, one was an elected municipal president, 15 were pre-candidates, 12 were aldermen, eight were political party and militant leaders, one was a local deputy, and one was political adviser.



DougMacG

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 11281
    • View Profile
Mexico-US matters, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO)
« Reply #660 on: April 18, 2018, 10:14:38 AM »
https://www.worldcrunch.com/opinion-analysis/far-left-frontrunner-for-mexican-presidency-may-get-help-from-moscow-1

We will need an update on this from our correspondent on the scene, DDF.  )

I see Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) labeled a populist (like Trump?), and a Marxist far Left socialist who speaks in vague terms to hide his true intent (like Obama only further to the Left?).

Mexico Populist Lopez Obrador Sprints Out to Record 22-Point Lead in Reforma Poll
https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-mexican-election/

They are all Leftists to me, I wonder what the potential change of government would mean?  A Chavez-like economic disaster in the making?  4 times bigger in population and far closer!  Mexican refugees already which direction to head.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2018, 10:17:44 AM by DougMacG »

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #661 on: April 18, 2018, 01:14:52 PM »
DDF is no longer with us.

AMLO is a hard lefty in my opinion. 

Also worth noting is that in one of his previous runs, he organized protests to challenge his loss for quite a period of time , , ,

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
GPF: The Barriers to Development in Guerrero
« Reply #662 on: April 26, 2018, 07:36:44 PM »
The Barriers to Development in Mexico’s Guerrero State
Apr 26, 2018

Summary

Geography can be a barrier to development in any country. Some have managed to overcome their hurdles through technology and sheer political will. Others, like Mexico, have found it more difficult.

Even during colonial rule, the Spanish viceroys struggled to control parts of the vast country. Anywhere outside of the central plateau, which includes Mexico City, can be hard to govern. Today, violence and drug trafficking are on the rise, partly due to the disconnectedness and lack of government authority in certain areas. In the first quarter of 2018, Mexico registered 7,667 intentional homicides. At this rate, total homicides will exceed 30,000 by the end of the year – well above the total for 2017, which was already a record year at 25,339 homicides.

The problem has been more pronounced in some places, most notably Guerrero state. Located on the Pacific coast and 120 miles (200 kilometers) southwest of Mexico City, it had the most homicides of any state in Mexico last year. Though this can partly be attributed to geography – the state is mountainous and therefore hard to secure from the outside – it’s also due to the fact that the state was not seen as a priority during various points in Mexico’s history. This Deep Dive will focus on why Guerrero has become a hub of violence and illicit activity and some of the challenges the government still faces in controlling it.

An Attractive Target for Cartels

On the whole, Mexico is a fairly prosperous country. It ranks 15th in the world in terms of gross domestic product and is classified as an upper middle-income country by the World Bank. But its wealth is not distributed evenly, and Guerrero state is a perfect example of the poverty and underdevelopment that exists in many parts of the country. Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography compared the level of development in all 32 Mexican states, looking at factors such as housing, infrastructure, basic furnishings, quality of life, health, education and employment levels. It found that Guerrero was among the three least-advantaged states in the country. In fact, all three least-advantaged states are located in the south and along the Pacific coast.
 
(click to enlarge)

Guerrero has become a prime target for drug cultivation and trafficking, a fact that’s reflected in its high murder rate. Last year, Guerrero registered a homicide rate of about 70 per 100,000 people. There are at least six major drug trafficking organizations – Jalisco New Generation Cartel, La Familia Michoacana, Guardia Guerrerense, Sangre Nueva Guerrerense, Los Viagras, and Los Cornudos – operating in the state and competing for territory. Other groups active in the state include Los Ardillos and Los Rojos. Some areas of Guerrero, most notably the Chilpancingo-Chilapa corridor, have almost no government presence and are controlled mainly by drug cartels that offer to “protect” local residents in exchange for their labor in poppy fields. The cartels’ willingness to intimidate and even attack local officials prompted the government, military and federal police this month to extend special protection to political candidates ahead of federal elections scheduled for July.
 
(click to enlarge)

The state’s demographics and terrain make it ripe for exploitation by drug trafficking organizations. Guerrero is the second-largest poppy producing state in Mexico after Sinaloa, thanks in large part to its climate and soil. In addition, the state’s population is very young, with an average age of 23, making it an attractive target for drug cartels that need people to join their ranks, work their land and traffic their goods. Some 98 percent of Guerrero’s economically active population is employed, but 79 percent of its workforce is employed in the informal sector, meaning those workers do not have access to health care and retirement plans and are generally paid much lower wages. Nearly 20 percent of the working population is underemployed or underpaid, and according to Mexico’s National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy, nearly a quarter of the population lives in extreme poverty. The average person living in Guerrero has just eight years of education. Only about half of workers have some primary-level education, and only a quarter completed high school. Among a population that is undereducated and underemployed, cartels have had little trouble finding recruits for the lucrative drug trade.

History of Rebellion

Why have these conditions developed in Guerrero, while other parts of the country have prospered? There is no single, easy answer, but Mexico’s colonial past is a good place to start. Though named after Vicente Guerrero, a celebrated general from Mexico’s War of Independence, the state has a rich history of rebellion against authority. Guerrero, which translates as “warrior,” had unique beginnings: For years, local residents pressured the national government to establish a separate entity for Guerrero, which was previously divided among three states – Mexico, Michoacan and Puebla. Its population was among the first to rise up in several conflicts: the War of Independence, in support of constitutional reform, against French intervention, against the Porfirio Diaz government and against the government in Mexico’s Dirty War.
Colonial rule established a strong social hierarchy and concentrated land ownership in the hands of elites. Though existing population centers were allowed to survive, the Spanish distributed land, economic opportunities and investment according to the crown’s needs rather than those of the local population. Resentment against colonial rule existed throughout Mexico – the country did, after all, fight a war for independence – but the population in Guerrero was more isolated than most, with a weaker presence of the colonial government, which had limited resources with which to control a vast area. Guerrero, then, was often the starting point for social unrest that led to different rebellions. The state continued its rebellious streak even after colonialism ended. Nineteenth-century President Porfirio Diaz ruled with an iron fist, re-enforcing the public’s distrust of centralized authority. Diaz was especially tough on Guerrero, fearing it could inspire a rebellion against his government, and kept it a weak state.

Guerrero’s history of dissent is now reflected in the formation of self-defense groups – vigilante forces that have sprung up because of the growing insecurity in the state and the government’s inability to address it. The government’s response to the violence can be described as containment. Eight military bases encircle Guerrero along a federal highway that follows the state’s borders. This strategy may help limit the spread of the violence to other states, but it leaves the center unprotected and mostly lawless. At the municipal level, local police forces are ill-equipped to control the vast land for which they are responsible. Only four of the state’s municipalities have 10 or more agents from the Ministry of Public Security assigned to them, and over a dozen have fewer than four. Federal-level public security agents are practically non-existent outside of the resort town of Acapulco and the state capital of Chilpancingo.
 
(click to enlarge)

Poor Infrastructure

Another reason for the disorder in Guerrero is the lack of infrastructure. Mexico experienced a wave of infrastructure development after the second French intervention in the 1870s and during the early years of the Diaz government in the 1880s. In 1860, Mexico had but 150 miles of disjointed railway. Just 24 years later, this grew to 7,500 miles. Initially, officials wanted to construct a rail line linking Veracruz on the east coast with Acapulco, a port city in Guerrero, via Mexico City. But ultimately, they did not follow through, and Guerrero was largely left out of the infrastructure boom, a fact that has limited the state’s development ever since.

The state was left out because its mountainous terrain makes infrastructure development costly. Heavy rain during summer months also makes construction harder and increases the cost of maintenance for existing tracks. At the start of the railway boom, private companies and investors from the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere funded infrastructure projects and choose which projects to invest in based on their own business interests. In Guerrero, business interests mainly related to mining. The northern part of the state is rich in minerals and metal deposits. There was thus enough financial incentive to construct a railway from Mexico City to Iguala, located in the mining region and relatively close to Mexico’s capital.
 
(click to enlarge)

But when metal prices fell at the end of the 19th century, investor interest in the state waned. It was around this time, in 1898, that the federal government stepped in to regulate railway construction and, in so doing, put the final nail in the coffin for Guerrero’s development. The federal government intervened for two reasons. First, it needed to fill the gap left by the private sector. The fall in metal prices hit Guerrero particularly hard, but it affected the mining industry, and therefore infrastructure development, across the country. This would have almost immediate impacts on local populations and economies that the Diaz government had been so dedicated to supporting in the previous decade. Second, the government wanted a national approach to infrastructure development to ensure that the decisions being made on which projects to support and which areas received the most investment were in the best interests of the country. This resulted in legislation that limited foreign participation in infrastructure, gave the government more control and introduced a period in which projects needed government subsidies before they could move forward. But the central government did not consider Guerrero a priority for rail construction, and therefore the extension of the railway to Acapulco was abandoned.
 
(click to enlarge)

Guerrero is also poorly connected by roads. The first and only major highway in Guerrero connects Acapulco to Mexico City. It was built in 1927 and followed the original dirt road that connected the cities. The construction of the highway significantly affected the state’s development, as economic activity and population centers grew in areas with access to it. These areas included Acapulco, Chilpancingo and Iguala, as well as somewhat smaller centers just off the highway like Taxco and Chilapa. A third of the state’s population lives in the first three municipalities, and when the other three are added, it’s nearly half the population. Even today, the areas of Guerrero that are not along the main highway are underdeveloped, desolate and disconnected from economic activity in the rest of the country. Securing these areas would require heavy investment, both in terms of finances and personnel. This in part helps explain why federal security forces have adopted a containment approach there. It is costly for the government to cover this barren area, and therefore easy for others to take over.
 
(click to enlarge)

Limited Coastal Development

One key advantage Guerrero does have is its access to the Pacific Ocean. Ports usually serve as engines for economic growth and development because they help facilitate trade. Port cities offer benefits for businesses in terms of logistics and often develop into economic hubs themselves. But this hasn’t been the case in Guerrero’s main port, Acapulco.

Discovered by Spanish conquistadors in 1532, Acapulco was among the earliest ports established by Spain. But multiple factors have prevented Acapulco from developing into a major Mexican port. From 1565 to 1814, Acapulco was one of the primary ports used by New Spain and then Mexico for trade with China and other Asian countries, although trade with these countries was secondary to trade with Europe, which meant that ports on Mexico’s Atlantic coast took priority.

It was difficult for Acapulco and the surrounding area to fully capitalize on trade with Asia. The port received large shipments from Asia only twice a year. Crossing the Pacific Ocean took an incredibly long time given the distance between Mexico and China and the limits of maritime navigation and technology at the time. A trip that now takes two to three weeks took several months back then. Goods were unloaded at the port and a local fair was set up to sell them. After four to six weeks, the fairs would close and the goods would be sent to Mexico City, where they would be consumed or delivered to other parts of the viceroyalty. Thus, Acapulco was mainly used as a transit point for commerce and goods on their way to the capital and didn’t develop into a major commercial hub itself. Acapulco port did conduct trade with other viceroyalty cities along the Pacific coast – like Guayaquil (in present-day Ecuador) and Lima (in present-day Peru) – but the volume and value of such trade didn’t match that of, for example, Veracruz, Mexico’s main port on the east coast. The extreme seasonality of trade and the port’s limited development into a business center meant that it couldn’t support major development and growth in the rest of the state.

Once Acapulco lost its position as a major Pacific shipping port for New Spain, it never claimed it back. Mexico’s fight for independence severely disrupted Spanish control over trade and territory, including in Acapulco. Mexican Gen. Jose Maria Morelos took the city of Acapulco in 1814, at which point Spain redirected trade to other ports. In the years that followed, Mexico’s central government focused on securing territory from incursion by the U.S., France and even residents of Guerrero, which was not yet a state of its own. In the early 20th century, construction of the Panama Canal was in full swing, further stagnating development in Acapulco because goods could be shipped to Mexico’s east coast faster and more inexpensively through the canal. Within Mexico, Manzanillo Port, also on the Pacific coast, quickly started surpassing Acapulco in terms of infrastructure development, and in 1908, Porfirio Diaz designated Manzanillo as an official port of entry.

Today, the ports of Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas dominate Mexico’s Pacific maritime trade. Despite increasing trade between Mexico and Asian markets and the fact that, globally, Pacific trade is starting to overtake Atlantic trade, Acapulco cannot take advantage. The private sector continues to shy away from investing there, partly because of the security concerns in Guerrero and partly because of competition from more developed and reliable ports in other areas of Mexico. This leaves the government as the primary source of funding for major infrastructure projects, but even the government is reluctant to sink money into this part of the country.

Playing Catch-Up

Over time, Guerrero became isolated from the rest of Mexico, limiting the central government’s ability to govern the state and rein in violence there. Geography initially served as the underlying cause of Guerrero’s lack of connectivity. Its isolation from other major population centers bred a strong sense of regional identity and made it difficult to integrate the state with the rest of the country. Its only major center of commerce, Acapulco, was far from the country’s main trade routes and markets, thus making it more a transitory stop than an economic center. Guerrero’s natural resources were taken out of the region, particularly under colonial rule, and little was reinvested into the state. In the early days of major infrastructure development, Guerrero drew the short end of the stick, as other states presented more attractive business prospects.

The lack of connectivity resulted in the state’s developing an economy based on subsistence farming, tourism and basic manufacturing – all low-value economic activities. The lack of economic opportunities, a large, young labor force, and a climate prime for poppy cultivation have made Guerrero an attractive location for drug trafficking organizations, which have easily filled the power vacuum left by the central government.

Technology has come a long way, and much of the state’s geographic barriers could be overcome. But other states have gotten a head start, and Guerrero is still stuck playing catch-up. Major investments are needed to bring Guerrero on par with other Mexican states, but the security environment will make that difficult. Guerrero needs more economic and infrastructure development if it wants to really tackle the violence and drug problem. But it has a long way to go.

The post The Barriers to Development in Mexico’s Guerrero State appeared first on Geopolitical Futures.

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
WSJ: O'Grady: AMLO Lopez Obrador
« Reply #663 on: June 03, 2018, 02:07:21 PM »
O'Grady is dead on here-- AMLO is a hard lefty who, IMHO, is capable of ending Mexican democracy.


 By Mary Anastasia O’Grady
June 3, 2018 3:30 p.m. ET
8 COMMENTS

Donald Trump has cultivated a contentious relationship with the government of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. But if left-wing Mexican presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador wins the July 1 election, it may not be long before Mr. Trump regrets many lost opportunities to advance U.S. interests by working with Mr. Peña Nieto to deepen institutional reforms.

The troubles that an AMLO presidency could bring to the U.S. go way beyond the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. AMLO says he is an antiestablishment moderate out to unseat a corrupt political class. Others say he is an old-fashioned Mexican corporatist. But he can’t get to the presidential palace without Mexico’s hard left. If he makes it, he will be under pressure to repay the more extreme elements of his campaign.

The market will impose some economic discipline on him. But there will be no cost to opening the doors of his government’s Foreign Ministry to every useful idiot, true believer in utopia, and power-hungry climber in the country.

Once in, they will bring their friends from places like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Iran to “educate” and provide “health care” in the barrios and pueblitos—and to share military advice.

The AMLO team understands the risks of a peso collapse sparked by an investor stampede for the exits if he is declared winner on July 2. This is why he makes a point of calmly promising “respect” and “friendship” with the U.S. and no big reversals of the market economy.

Between the election and the Dec. 1 inauguration, expect even more reassurances of continuity. Anything less could finish his presidency before it starts. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had to do much the same when he first won election in 2002.

Yet there are gaping inconsistencies between AMLO’s worldview and his insistence that he is a centrist. He cannot, for example, promise fiscal restraint while pouring government resources into agriculture with the goal of reviving agrarian life circa 1960.

Nor has he reconciled his long history of opposing private investment in oil and gas with his vague and shifting suggestions that he will not disrupt the opening of the energy industry. In February AMLO adviser Alfonso Romo said that the campaign had reviewed most existing contracts and found them acceptable, as if he and the new president will be the final arbiters of fairness. Mr. Romo’s history of dubious financial dealings, which I wrote about in a February column, “How to Get Rich Quick in Mexico,” do not inspire confidence.

Yet this potential for economic instability pales in comparison with the dangers presented by the close relations between Mr. López Obrador’s National Regeneration Movement—Morena—and several military dictatorships. These are not casual bonds; they are statements of ideological solidarity, and they are perilous.

AMLO says he does not know Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro. But as Mexican writer Fernando García Ramírez observed in a Jan. 15 column in the daily El Financiero, that “is true in personal terms but false with respect to his party and his movement.” Key players in Morena, Mr. García Ramírez pointed out, “sustain an intense relationship with chavismo in general and the party of Maduro”—the United Socialist Party of Venezuela—“in particular.”

Exhibit A is Morena’s president, Yeidckol Polevnksy, who speaks frankly about her admiration for Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian revolution and of her desire to import Bolivarian ideas to Mexico. “She travels constantly to Venezuela” Mr. Garcia Ramirez wrote, “participates in chavista activities, has continuous contact with the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.” Another high-ranking Morena official who is enamored with Venezuela is Héctor Díaz-Polanco. He has said that Morena coming to power will allow Mexico to integrate into the Bolivarian revolution. Mr. Garcia Ramirez’s full column, “To Deceive with the Truth,” is worth reading.

Mr. López Obrador will also attract opportunists who see him as a way to get ahead. Mr. Romo is one such figure. Another is Sen. Gabriela Cuevas, who once belonged to the center-right National Action Party but jumped to Morena in January to advance her political career. When I met her in Mexico last year she had just returned from a recreational break in Cuba where, she told me, she goes because she has “friends” in the dictatorship. She is also a fan of Iran, as she explained in a November speech in Mexico City: “Today Iran is one of the most important fighters against extremism, violence and terrorism. In this sense, both Iran and Mexico have been loyal to the constructive dialogue.”

Bring this stuff up and AMLO shouts “dirty war.” Many Mexicans fear his vengeance if he wins and thus shrink from the debate. But no one will be able to say, after the fact, that the proclivities were not there. That includes Mr. Trump.

G M

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 16944
    • View Profile
Re: WSJ: O'Grady: AMLO Lopez Obrador
« Reply #664 on: June 03, 2018, 05:51:25 PM »
Perfect reason to use the US Military to totally lock down the border.


O'Grady is dead on here-- AMLO is a hard lefty who, IMHO, is capable of ending Mexican democracy.


 By Mary Anastasia O’Grady
June 3, 2018 3:30 p.m. ET
8 COMMENTS

Donald Trump has cultivated a contentious relationship with the government of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. But if left-wing Mexican presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador wins the July 1 election, it may not be long before Mr. Trump regrets many lost opportunities to advance U.S. interests by working with Mr. Peña Nieto to deepen institutional reforms.

The troubles that an AMLO presidency could bring to the U.S. go way beyond the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. AMLO says he is an antiestablishment moderate out to unseat a corrupt political class. Others say he is an old-fashioned Mexican corporatist. But he can’t get to the presidential palace without Mexico’s hard left. If he makes it, he will be under pressure to repay the more extreme elements of his campaign.

The market will impose some economic discipline on him. But there will be no cost to opening the doors of his government’s Foreign Ministry to every useful idiot, true believer in utopia, and power-hungry climber in the country.

Once in, they will bring their friends from places like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Iran to “educate” and provide “health care” in the barrios and pueblitos—and to share military advice.

The AMLO team understands the risks of a peso collapse sparked by an investor stampede for the exits if he is declared winner on July 2. This is why he makes a point of calmly promising “respect” and “friendship” with the U.S. and no big reversals of the market economy.

Between the election and the Dec. 1 inauguration, expect even more reassurances of continuity. Anything less could finish his presidency before it starts. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had to do much the same when he first won election in 2002.

Yet there are gaping inconsistencies between AMLO’s worldview and his insistence that he is a centrist. He cannot, for example, promise fiscal restraint while pouring government resources into agriculture with the goal of reviving agrarian life circa 1960.

Nor has he reconciled his long history of opposing private investment in oil and gas with his vague and shifting suggestions that he will not disrupt the opening of the energy industry. In February AMLO adviser Alfonso Romo said that the campaign had reviewed most existing contracts and found them acceptable, as if he and the new president will be the final arbiters of fairness. Mr. Romo’s history of dubious financial dealings, which I wrote about in a February column, “How to Get Rich Quick in Mexico,” do not inspire confidence.

Yet this potential for economic instability pales in comparison with the dangers presented by the close relations between Mr. López Obrador’s National Regeneration Movement—Morena—and several military dictatorships. These are not casual bonds; they are statements of ideological solidarity, and they are perilous.

AMLO says he does not know Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro. But as Mexican writer Fernando García Ramírez observed in a Jan. 15 column in the daily El Financiero, that “is true in personal terms but false with respect to his party and his movement.” Key players in Morena, Mr. García Ramírez pointed out, “sustain an intense relationship with chavismo in general and the party of Maduro”—the United Socialist Party of Venezuela—“in particular.”

Exhibit A is Morena’s president, Yeidckol Polevnksy, who speaks frankly about her admiration for Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian revolution and of her desire to import Bolivarian ideas to Mexico. “She travels constantly to Venezuela” Mr. Garcia Ramirez wrote, “participates in chavista activities, has continuous contact with the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.” Another high-ranking Morena official who is enamored with Venezuela is Héctor Díaz-Polanco. He has said that Morena coming to power will allow Mexico to integrate into the Bolivarian revolution. Mr. Garcia Ramirez’s full column, “To Deceive with the Truth,” is worth reading.

Mr. López Obrador will also attract opportunists who see him as a way to get ahead. Mr. Romo is one such figure. Another is Sen. Gabriela Cuevas, who once belonged to the center-right National Action Party but jumped to Morena in January to advance her political career. When I met her in Mexico last year she had just returned from a recreational break in Cuba where, she told me, she goes because she has “friends” in the dictatorship. She is also a fan of Iran, as she explained in a November speech in Mexico City: “Today Iran is one of the most important fighters against extremism, violence and terrorism. In this sense, both Iran and Mexico have been loyal to the constructive dialogue.”

Bring this stuff up and AMLO shouts “dirty war.” Many Mexicans fear his vengeance if he wins and thus shrink from the debate. But no one will be able to say, after the fact, that the proclivities were not there. That includes Mr. Trump.

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
WSJ: AMLO Lopez Obrador 2.0
« Reply #665 on: June 04, 2018, 03:46:30 AM »

By Juan Montes
June 4, 2018 5:30 a.m. ET
0 COMMENTS

MEXICO CITY—Mexico’s leading presidential candidate has a daunting challenge that keeps his would-be finance minister awake at night: find some $20 billion every year to step up social spending and public investment without raising taxes or debt.

Leftist nationalist Andrés Manuel López Obrador has said he would call on Carlos Urzúa to take on the herculean task if he wins the July election, as all published polls indicate he will.

“My focus will be to find the money we need,” said Mr. Urzúa, an affable 62-year-old economics professor with a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Concerns about fiscal restraint have investors wary of a victory for Mr. López Obrador, who has a lead of about 18 points over his closest rival with four weeks to go before the election. Mexico’s benchmark stock index has dropped nearly 9% this year through Friday as Mr. López Obrador has risen in the polls and talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement have hit investor sentiment.

The candidate’s ambitious plan to fund social programs and infrastructure projects by cutting other government spending isn’t realistic, according to many economists, raising fears that campaign vows of fiscal discipline will be relaxed if Mr. López Obrador becomes president.
‘My focus will be to find the money we need,’ said Carlos Urzúa, shown in April, who Mr. López Obrador has said he would pick as finance minister.
‘My focus will be to find the money we need,’ said Carlos Urzúa, shown in April, who Mr. López Obrador has said he would pick as finance minister. Photo: ginnette riquelme/Reuters

“To achieve those savings would be a positive surprise,” said Alonso Cervera, chief economist for Latin America at Credit Suisse. “If they don’t, I think they will likely widen the budget deficit rather than break campaign promises.”

Mexico’s main business groups also have voiced concerns about a return to old policies. Uncontrolled government spending under populist leaders led Mexico to major economic upheavals and peso devaluations in 1976 and 1982. After the country’s last homegrown financial crisis in 1994, Mexico secured investment-grade ratings which it kept even through the global crisis of 2008.

Since polls show that Mr. López Obrador’s Morena party and his allies could also secure an outright majority in the lower house of Congress, his administration is also likely to have enough room to pass spending plans without support from the opposition.

“The temptation of indebting the country is going to be there,” said Héctor Villarreal, head of the Center of Economic and Budget Research, a Mexico City think tank.

Mr. Urzúa, who described himself as a moderate social democrat, said a López Obrador administration would never put the country’s financial stability at risk. “What we can’t finance [through savings], won’t be done,” he said.

Success or failure of a López Obrador administration may rest on Mr. Urzúa’s ability to come up with the savings needed to fund projects such as a $5.1 billion-a-year program to put unemployed young people to work, doubling pensions for the elderly, and building two oil refineries.

“Urzúa will be the economizer-in-chief. That’s why López Obrador wants him,” said Gerardo Esquivel, an economic adviser to the candidate.

Mr. Urzúa says he is confident that by trimming down bureaucracy, making government more efficient and fighting corruption, enough funds can be freed up. The target is to make annual savings of around 2% of Mexico’s gross domestic product, or $20 billion.

Purchases by all government ministries, of items from toilet paper to computers, will be centralized and monitored at the finance ministry, Mr. Urzúa said. Part of the money for discretionary spending that is transferred to Mexican state governments, and which last year included $10 billion more than expected, would instead be funneled to public works, he said.
Mexico has seen major economic upheavals in prior decades. Above, unemployed workers in Mexico City in 1982.
Mexico has seen major economic upheavals in prior decades. Above, unemployed workers in Mexico City in 1982. Photo: Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images

Mr. López Obrador’s plan also includes slashing by half the salaries of high-ranking officials who earn more than $50,000 a year and reducing by 70% the number of management positions. He also says he would save money by fighting corruption in public bidding processes, although details remain vague.

Former government officials view the planned cuts in bureaucracy with skepticism. “You won’t attract talent, and incentives for corruption will increase, not decrease,” one former top finance ministry official said.

Reassigning funds that currently go to state governments could also face strong political resistance from affected sectors and special interest groups, complicating the plan.

And analysts see little room to make the needed savings, as more than 80% of Mexico’s roughly $270 billion budget goes to pay wages and pensions and to service debt. Mr. López Obrador’s promises to lower consumer taxes along the northern border and freeze gasoline prices could make it even more difficult to balance the books.

“The most likely outcome is that they will achieve just a fraction of the planned savings,” Mr. Villarreal said.

A López Obrador government would aim for a primary budget surplus—excluding debt payments—in 2019 and progressively reduce Mexico’s public debt, Mr. Urzúa said. “López Obrador is a fiscal conservative.”
Related Coverage

    ‘Tropical Messiah’: A Trump-Style Politician Is Mexican Presidential Front Runner (May 30)
    Nafta Talks Stalled on U.S. Auto Demands (May 23)
    Ex-Enemies, Evangelicals and a Soccer Star: Top Mexican Candidate’s New Allies (Feb. 14)

Mexico’s public debt rose steadily under current President Enrique Peña Nieto, reaching 49% of GDP in 2016 but is now on a downward path. A primary budget surplus equal to 0.8% of GDP is already projected for this year.

Mr. López Obrador has promised to respect the Bank of Mexico’s autonomy and the free float of the peso.

Mr. Urzúa was Mexico City’s finance chief from 2000 to 2003, his only government experience so far, when Mr. López Obrador was mayor. Some investors and analysts doubt he is cut out for a job as Mexico’s finance minister that typically requires international contacts and political skills.

“If Urzúa is the best López Obrador has around him, he is in trouble,” said one U.S. investor who recently met with him.

Mr. Urzúa says he is prepared for the job, having managed a budget in Mexico City that is larger than those of some countries in Latin America, and added that he has experience in difficult political talks, such as when he negotiated the city budget with an opposition-controlled local assembly.

Instead of attending international meetings and events, he said he plans to focus on re-engineering Mexico’s budget. “I won’t be a suit-and-tie minister, but a hands-on minister.”

DougMacG

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 11281
    • View Profile
Re: WSJ: O'Grady: Mexico, AMLO Lopez Obrador, Urzua
« Reply #666 on: June 04, 2018, 08:14:08 AM »
The Presidential election is Sunday July 1.  The presumed winner is "Leftist nationalist" Lopez Obrador (AMLO).  Make Mexico Great (Again?) - or something.  From his point of view, 'make me supreme leader for life'?

Crafty:  "O'Grady is dead on here-- AMLO is a hard lefty who, IMHO, is capable of ending Mexican democracy."

In the mold of Chavez, and maybe Erdogan...

G M:  "Perfect reason to use the US Military to totally lock down the border."

Maybe that is the good news coming out of an increased threat from Mexico, secure the damn border.

From our perspective, he is sort of a blend of Obama and Trump qualities.  Like Obama with the Leftism and blank canvas where you paint your own picture of how beautifully he will govern and like Trump with the nationalism.  All who win are seen as populists, representing the interests of ordinary people. Obama turned to Leftism, elitism, internationalism where Trump doubled down on nationalism.  Obama is having his legacy erased while the book is still out on Trump.

The article emphasizes the debt he will owe the Mexican Left, but Power and Presidency (they say) changes a person.  Winning candidates say what they need to say to get elected, then are judged on results more so than their shifts.  If he is a true Mexican nationalist and if he is smart, wise and a student of all that is happening around him, then there is also upside risk too, that he will turn Mexico in a positive direction.

Who in Spanish-speaking south of North America can't see what no one denies in Venezuela, the spanish speaking north of South America?  Who could envy Chavez' national demise or Maduro's downward spiraling disaster?

Mexican may hate Trump but they (unknowingly) envy him when they see the strong dollar, the job gains, GDP growth, reignited spirit.

If you want to be powerful head of a powerful government, why not copy China over Cuba, or Singapore over Zimbabwe?

Mexico is important to the US in a number of interrelated ways.  The better Mexico does, the better it is for us.  The more they look out for their own interests (nationalism), the more it helps us.  The more they head down the proven failure Leftist dustbin graveyard of history, the worse it is for us.  They are our neighbor and relative, not our competitor and hopefully not our enemy.

I have no idea how smart AMLO is, but the more wise, learned and clever he is, the more he will turn to policies that work and that is all we can hope for.  If successful and he has makes a strong, positive, measurable turn for his country of great potential, he will have no need to dismantle the democratic process.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2018, 08:23:46 AM by DougMacG »

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #667 on: June 04, 2018, 10:37:28 AM »
I remember how he acted when he lost the previous presidential election.  Look it up-- might even be in this thread or the one on the Spanish language forum.

DougMacG

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 11281
    • View Profile
Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #668 on: June 04, 2018, 12:58:11 PM »
I remember how he acted when he lost the previous presidential election.  Look it up-- might even be in this thread or the one on the Spanish language forum.

"... Lopez Obrador has a long history in Mexican politics. After his loss in the 2006 elections to Calderon, Lopez Obrador denounced the results, declared himself the legitimate president of Mexico, and embarked on a yearslong tour of the country with his declared government. In the process, Lopez Obrador radicalized his position, moving to the far left of the political spectrum and creating a rift within the PRD."
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=604.300

He is radical far-Left.  Before that he was a popular (Leftist) mayor of Mexico City, runner-up for "world Mayor":  http://www.worldmayor.com/worldmayor_2004/obrador_second04.html
His main thrust is anti-corruption.  He won't be a popular leader of Mexico very long if he leads them down into Venezuela-style failure and there isn't another outcome for far-Leftist policies.  As a Leftist, his words in this campaign, I assume, are just words.  He will have tough choices to make if/when elected.  Currently he has a 26 point lead.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-election/mexican-leftist-widens-double-digit-lead-for-presidency-poll-idUSKCN1J01AS

Yes this looks like a Chavez repeat on our border but now we know and he should know more ugly chapters in the Chavez / Maduro story.  It is Leftist but not nationalist, populist or anti-corruption to follow them.

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #669 on: June 04, 2018, 03:02:40 PM »
"... Lopez Obrador has a long history in Mexican politics. After his loss in the 2006 elections to Calderon, Lopez Obrador denounced the results, declared himself the legitimate president of Mexico, and embarked on a yearslong tour of the country with his declared government. In the process, Lopez Obrador radicalized his position, moving to the far left of the political spectrum and creating a rift within the PRD."
http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?topic=604.300


Yup.

Working from memory, it began with very large protests in Mexico City, the nation's capitol, and of which he was mayor-- conditions apt to trigger ambitious thoughts of crossing the Mexican Rubicon were in the air.

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile

ccp

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 9598
    • View Profile
NYorker mag on Mexico
« Reply #671 on: June 18, 2018, 06:53:13 PM »
A New Revolution in Mexico
Sick of corruption and of Trump, voters embrace the maverick leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

By Jon Lee Anderson

Proclaiming a “people’s struggle” against the country’s “power mafia,” Andrés Manuel López Obrador is regularly mobbed on the Presidential campaign trail.Photograph by Meghan Dhaliwal for The New Yorker

The first time that Andrés Manuel López Obrador ran for President of Mexico, in 2006, he inspired such devotion among his partisans that they sometimes stuck notes in his pockets, inscribed with their hopes for their families. In an age defined by globalism, he was an advocate of the working class—and also a critic of the pri, the party that has ruthlessly dominated national politics for much of the past century. In the election, his voters’ fervor was evidently not enough; he lost, by a tiny margin. The second time he ran, in 2012, the enthusiasm was the same, and so was the outcome. Now, though, Mexico is in crisis—beset from inside by corruption and drug violence, and from outside by the antagonism of the Trump Administration. There are new Presidential elections on July 1st, and López Obrador is running on a promise to remake Mexico in the spirit of its founding revolutionaries. If the polls can be believed, he is almost certain to win.

In March, he held a meeting with hundreds of loyalists, at a conference hall in Culiacán. López Obrador, known across Mexico as amlo, is a rangy man of sixty-four, with a youthful, clean-shaven face, a mop of silver hair, and an easy gait. When he entered, his supporters got to their feet and chanted, “It’s an honor to vote for López Obrador!” Many of them were farmworkers, wearing straw hats and scuffed boots. He urged them to install Party observers at polling stations to prevent fraud, but cautioned against buying votes, a long-established habit of the pri. “That’s what we’re getting rid of,” he said. He promised a “sober, austere government—a government without privilege.” López Obrador frequently uses “privilege” as a term of disparagement, along with “élite,” and, especially, “power mafia,” as he describes his enemies in the political and business communities. “We are going to lower the salaries of those who are on top to increase the salaries of those on the bottom,” he said, and added a Biblical assurance: “Everything I am saying will be done.” López Obrador spoke in a warm voice, leaving long pauses and using simple phrases that ordinary people would understand. He has a penchant for rhymes and repeated slogans, and at times the crowd joined in, like fans at a pop concert. When he said, “We don’t want to help the power mafia to . . . ,” a man in the audience finished his sentence: “keep stealing.” Working together, López Obrador said, “we are going to make history.”

The current Mexican government is led by the center-right President Enrique Peña Nieto. His party, the pri, has depicted López Obrador as a radical populist, in the tradition of Hugo Chávez, and warned that he intends to turn Mexico into another Venezuela. The Trump Administration has been similarly concerned. Roberta Jacobson, who until last month was the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, told me that senior American officials often expressed worry: “They catastrophized about amlo, saying things like ‘If he wins, the worst will happen.’ ”

Ironically, his surging popularity can be attributed partly to Donald Trump. Within days of Trump’s election, Mexican political analysts were predicting that his open belligerence toward Mexico would encourage political resistance. Mentor Tijerina, a prominent pollster in Monterrey, told me at the time, “Trump’s arrival signifies a crisis for Mexico, and this will help amlo.” Not long after the Inauguration, López Obrador published a best-selling book called “Oye, Trump” (“Listen Up, Trump”), which contained tough-talking snippets from his speeches. In one, he declared, “Trump and his advisers speak of the Mexicans the way Hitler and the Nazis referred to the Jews, just before undertaking the infamous persecution and the abominable extermination.”

Officials in the Peña Nieto government warned their counterparts in the White House that Trump’s offensive behavior heightened the prospect of a hostile new government—a national-security threat just across the border. If Trump didn’t modulate his behavior, the election would be a referendum on which candidate was the most anti-American. In the U.S., the warnings worked. During a Senate hearing in April, 2017, John McCain said, “If the election were tomorrow in Mexico, you would probably get a left-wing, anti-American President.” John Kelly, who was then the Homeland Security chief, agreed. “It would not be good for America—or for Mexico,” he said.

In Mexico, remarks like Kelly’s seemed only to improve López Obrador’s standing. “Every time an American politician opens their mouth to express a negative view about a Mexican candidate, it helps him,” Jacobson said. But she has never been sure that Trump has the same “apocalyptic” view of amlo. “There are certain traits they share,” she noted. “The populism, for starters.” During the campaign, López Obrador has decried Mexico’s “pharaonic government” and promised that, if he is elected, he will decline to live in Los Pinos, the Presidential residence. Instead, he will open it to the public, as a place for ordinary families to go and enjoy themselves.

After Jacobson arrived in Mexico, in 2016, she arranged meetings with local political leaders. López Obrador kept her waiting for months. Finally, he invited her to his home, in a distant, unfashionable corner of Mexico City. “I had the impression he did that because he didn’t think I would come,” she said. “But I told him, ‘No problem, my security guys can make that work.’ ” Jacobson’s team followed his directions to an unremarkable two-story town house in Tlalpan, a middle-class district. “If part of the point was to show me how modestly he lived, he succeeded,” she said.

López Obrador was “friendly and confident,” she said, but he deflected many of her questions and spoke vaguely about policy. The conversation did little to settle the issue of whether he was an opportunistic radical or a principled reformer. “What should we expect from him as President?” she said. “Honestly, my strongest feeling about him is that we don’t know what to expect.”

VIDEO FROM THE NEW YORKER
Lies and Truth in the Era of Trump


This spring, as López Obrador and his advisers travelled the country, I joined them on several trips. On the road, his style is strikingly different from that of most national politicians, who often arrive at campaign stops in helicopters and move through the streets surrounded by security details. López Obrador flies coach, and travels from town to town in a two-car caravan, with drivers who double as unarmed bodyguards; he has no other security measures in place, except for inconsistent efforts to obscure which hotel he is staying in. On the street, people approach him constantly to ask for selfies, and he greets them all with equanimity, presenting a warm, slightly inscrutable façade. “amlo is like an abstract painting—you see what you want to see in him,” Luis Miguel González, the editorial director of the newspaper El Economista, told me. One of his characteristic gestures during speeches is to demonstrate affection by hugging himself and leaning toward the crowd.

Jacobson recalled that, after Trump was elected, López Obrador lamented, “Mexicans will never elect someone who is not a politician.” This was telling, she thought. “He is clearly a politician,” she said. “But, like Trump, he has always presented himself as an outsider.” He was born in 1953, to a family of shopkeepers in Tabasco state, in a village called Tepetitán. Tabasco, on the Gulf of Mexico, is bisected by rivers that regularly flood its towns; in both its climate and the feistiness of its local politics, it can resemble Louisiana. One observer recalled that López Obrador joked, “Politics is a perfect blend of passion and reason. But I’m tabasqueño, a hundred per cent passion!” His nickname, El Peje, is derived from pejelagarto—Tabasco’s freshwater gar, an ancient, primitive fish with a face like an alligator’s.

When López Obrador was a boy, his family moved to the state capital, Villahermosa. Later, in Mexico City, he studied political science and public policy at unam, the country’s premier state-funded university, writing his thesis about the political formation of the Mexican state, in the nineteenth century. He married Rocío Beltrán Medina, a sociology student from Tabasco, and they had three sons. Elena Poniatowska, the doyenne of Mexican journalism, recalls meeting him when he was a young man. “He has always been very determined to get to the Presidency,” she said. “Like an arrow, straight and unswerving.”


“Chicken on a bed of spinach and onions?”
For a person with political aspirations, the pri was then the only serious option. It had been founded in 1929, to restore the country after the revolution. In the thirties, President Lázaro Cárdenas solidified it as an inclusive party of socialist change; he nationalized the oil industry and provided millions of acres of farmland to the poor and the dispossessed. Over the decades, the Party’s ideology fluctuated, but its hold on power steadily grew. Presidents chose their successors, in a ritual called the dedazo, and the Party made sure that they were elected.

López Obrador joined the pri after college, and, in 1976, he helped direct a successful Senate campaign for Carlos Pellicer, a poet who was friends with Pablo Neruda and Frida Kahlo. López Obrador rose quickly; he spent five years running the Tabasco office of the National Indigenous Institute, and then leading a department of the National Consumer Institute, in Mexico City. But he felt increasingly that the Party had strayed from its roots. In 1988, he joined a left-wing breakaway group, led by Lázaro Cárdenas’s son, that grew into the Partido Revolucionario Democrático. López Obrador became the Party chief in Tabasco.

In 1994, he made his first attempt at electoral office, running for governor of the state. He lost to the pri’s candidate, whom he accused of having won through fraud. Although a court inquiry did not lead to a verdict, many Mexicans believed him; the pri has a long record of rigging elections. Soon after the election, a supporter handed López Obrador a box of receipts, showing that the pri had spent ninety-five million dollars on an election in which half a million people voted.

In 2000, he was elected mayor of Mexico City, a post that gave him considerable power, as well as national visibility. In office, he built a reputation as a rumpled everyman; he drove an old Nissan to work, arriving before sunrise, and he reduced his own salary. (When his wife died, of lupus, in 2003, there was an outpouring of sympathy.) He was not averse to political combat. After one of his officials was caught on tape seeming to accept a bribe, he argued that it was a sting, and distributed comic books that depicted himself fighting against “dark forces.” (The official was later cleared.) At times, López Obrador ignored his assembly and governed by edict. But he also proved able to compromise. He succeeded in creating a pension fund for elderly residents, expanding highways to ease congestion, and devising a public-private scheme, with the telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim, to restore the historic downtown.

When he left office to prepare for the 2006 Presidential elections, he had high approval ratings and a reputation for getting things done. (He also had a new wife, a historian named Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller; they now have an eleven-year-old son.) López Obrador saw an opportunity. In the last election, the pri had lost its long hold on power, as the Partido de Acción Nacional won the Presidency. The pan, a traditionalist conservative party, had support from the business community, but its candidate, Felipe Calderón, was an uncharismatic figure.

The campaign was hard fought. López Obrador’s opponents ran television ads that presented him as a deceitful populist who posed “a danger for Mexico” and showed images of human misery alongside portraits of Chávez, Fidel Castro, and Evo Morales. In the end, López Obrador lost by half of one per cent of the vote—a margin slim enough to raise widespread suspicions of fraud. Refusing to recognize Calderón’s win, he led a protest in the capital, where his followers stopped traffic, erected tented encampments, and held rallies in the historic Zócalo and along Reforma Avenue. One resident recalled his giving speeches in “language that was reminiscent of the French Revolution.” At one point, he conducted a parallel inauguration ceremony in which his supporters swore him in as President. The protests lasted months, and the residents of Mexico City grew impatient; eventually, López Obrador packed up and went home.

In the 2012 election, he won a third of the vote—not enough to defeat Peña Nieto, who returned the pri to power. But Peña Nieto’s government has been tarnished by corruption and human-rights scandals. Ever since Trump announced his candidacy with a burst of anti-Mexican rhetoric, Peña Nieto has tried to placate him, with embarrassing results. He invited Trump to Mexico during his campaign and treated him as if he were already a head of state, only to have him return to the U.S. and tell a crowd of supporters that Mexico would “pay for the wall.” After Trump was elected, Peña Nieto assigned his foreign minister, Luis Videgaray, who is a friend of Jared Kushner’s, to make managing the White House relationship his highest priority. “Peña Nieto has been extremely accommodating,” Jorge Guajardo, a former Mexican Ambassador to China, told me. “There’s nothing Trump has even hinted at that he won’t immediately comply with.”

In early March, before López Obrador’s campaign had officially begun, we travelled through northern Mexico, where resistance to him is concentrated. His base of support is in the poorer, more agrarian south, with its majority indigenous population. The north, near the border with Texas, is more conservative, tied both economically and culturally to the southern United States; his task there was not so different from presenting himself to the Houston Chamber of Commerce.

In speeches, he tried to make light of his opponents’ accusations, cracking jokes about receiving “gold from Russia in a submarine” and calling himself “Andrés Manuelovich.” In Delicias, an agricultural hub in Chihuahua, he swore not to overextend his term in office. “I’m going to work sixteen hours a day instead of eight, so I will do twelve years’ work in six years,” he said. This rhetoric was backed by more pragmatic measures. As he travelled through the north, he was accompanied by Alfonso (Poncho) Romo, a wealthy businessman from the industrial boomtown of Monterrey, whom López Obrador had selected as his future chief of staff. A close adviser told me, “Poncho is key to the campaign in the north. Poncho is the bridge.” In Guadalajara, López Obrador told the audience, “Poncho is with me to help convince the businessmen who have been told we’re like Venezuela, or with the Russians, that we want to expropriate property, and that we’re populist. But none of that is true—this is a government made in Mexico.”

At a lunch with businessmen in Culiacán, the capital of Sinaloa state, López Obrador tested some ideas. “What we want to do is to carry out the transformation that this country needs,” he began. “Things can’t go on as they are.” He spoke in a conversational tone, and the crowd gradually seemed to grow more sympathetic. “We’re going to end the corruption, the impunity, and the privileges enjoyed by a small élite,” he said. “Once we do, the leaders of this country can recover their moral and political authority. And we’ll also clean up the image of Mexico in the rest of the world, because right now all that Mexico is known for is violence and corruption.”

López Obrador spoke about helping the poor, but when he talked about corruption he focussed on the political class. “Five million pesos a month in pension for ex-Presidents!” he said, and grimaced. “All of that has to end.” He noted that there were hundreds of Presidential jets and helicopters, and said, “We’re going to sell them to Trump.” The audience laughed, and he added, “We’ll use the money from the sale for public investment, and thus foment private investment to generate employment.”

During these early events, López Obrador was adjusting his message as he went along. His campaign strategy seemed simple: make lots of promises and broker whatever alliances were necessary to get elected. Just as he promised his Party faithful to raise workers’ salaries at the expense of senior bureaucrats, he promised the businessmen not to increase taxes on fuel, medicine, or electricity, and vowed that he would never confiscate property. “We will do nothing that goes against freedoms,” he declared. He proposed establishing a thirty-kilometre duty-free zone along the entire northern border, and lowering taxes for companies, both Mexican and American, that set up factories there. He also offered government patronage, vowing to complete an unfinished dam project in Sinaloa and to provide agricultural subsidies. “The term ‘subsidy’ has been satanized,” he said. “But it is necessary. In the United States they do it—up to a hundred per cent of the cost of production.”

Culiacán is a former stronghold of the brutal Sinaloa cartel, which has been instrumental in the flood of drug-related violence and corruption that has subsumed the Mexican state. Since 2006, the country has pursued a “war on drugs” that has cost at least a hundred thousand lives, seemingly to little good effect. López Obrador, like his opponents, has struggled to articulate a viable security strategy.

After the lunch in Culiacán, he took questions, and a woman stood to ask what he intended to do about narcotrafficking. Would he consider the legalization of drugs as a solution? A few months earlier, he had said, seemingly without much deliberation, that he might offer an “amnesty” to bring low-level dealers and producers into legal employment. When critics leaped on his remark, his aides tried to deflect criticism by arguing that, because none of the current administration’s policies had worked, anything was worth trying. To the woman in Culiacán, he said, “We’re going to tackle the causes with youth programs, new employment opportunities, education, and by tending to the abandoned countryside. We’re not only going to use force. We’ll analyze everything and explore all the avenues that will let us achieve peace. I don’t rule out anything, not even legalization—nothing.” The crowd applauded, and amlo looked relieved.

For López Obrador’s opponents, his ability to inspire hope is worrisome. Enrique Krauze, a historian and commentator who has often criticized the left, told me, “He reaches directly into the religious sensibilities of the people. They are seeing him as a man who will save Mexico from all of its evils. Even more important, he believes it, too.”

Krauze has been concerned about López Obrador ever since 2006. Before the Presidential elections that year, he published an essay titled “The Tropical Messiah,” in which he wrote that amlo had a religious zeal that was “puritanical, dogmatic, authoritarian, inclined toward hatred, and above all, redemptory.” Krauze’s latest book—“El Pueblo Soy Yo,” or “I Am the People”—is about the dangers of populism. He examines the political cultures in modern Venezuela and Cuba, and also includes a scathing assessment of Donald Trump, whom he refers to as “Caligula on Twitter.” In the preface, he writes about López Obrador in a tone of oracular dismay. “I believe that, if he wins, he will use his charisma to promise a return to an Arcadian order,” he says. “And with that accumulated power, arrived at thanks to democracy, he will corrode democracy from within.”

What worried Krauze, he explained, was that if López Obrador’s party won big—not just the Presidency but also a majority in Congress, which the polls suggest is likely—he might move to change the composition of the Supreme Court and dominate other institutions. He could also exercise tighter control over the media, much of which is supported by state-sponsored advertising. “Will he ruin Mexico?” Krauze asked. “No, but he could obstruct Mexico’s democracy by removing its counterweights. We’ve had a democratic experiment for the past eighteen years, ever since the pri first lost power, in 2000. It is imperfect, there is much to criticize, but there have also been positive changes. I’m worried that with amlo this experiment might end.”

Over dinner in Culiacán one night, López Obrador picked at a steak taco and talked about his antagonists on the right, alternating between amusement and concern. A few days earlier, Roberta Jacobson had announced that she was stepping down as Ambassador, and the Mexican government had immediately endorsed a prospective replacement: Edward Whitacre, a former C.E.O. of General Motors who happened to be a friend of the tycoon Carlos Slim. This was a nettlesome point for López Obrador. He had recently argued with Slim over a multibillion-dollar plan for a new Mexico City airport, which Slim was involved in. The scheme was a public-private venture with Peña Nieto’s government, and López Obrador, alleging corruption, had promised to stop it. (The government denies any malfeasance.) “We are hoping it doesn’t mean they are planning to interfere against me,” López Obrador said, of Whitacre and Slim. “Millions of Mexicans would take offense at that.”

Recently, the Peruvian novelist and politician Mario Vargas Llosa—who serves as an oracle for the Latin American right—had said publicly that if amlo won office it would be “a tremendous setback for democracy in Mexico.” He added that he hoped the country would not commit “suicide” on Election Day. When I mentioned the remarks, López Obrador grinned and said that Vargas Llosa was in the news mostly for his marriage to “a woman who always married up, and was always in Hola! magazine.” He was referring to the socialite Isabel Preysler, a former wife of the singer Julio Iglesias, for whom Vargas Llosa had abandoned his marriage of fifty years. López Obrador asked if I’d seen his response, in which he’d called Vargas Llosa a good writer and a bad politician. “You notice,” he said wickedly, “I didn’t call him a great writer.”

On April 1st, López Obrador officially launched his campaign, before a crowd of several thousand people in Ciudad Juárez. On a stage set up in a plaza, he stood with his wife, Beatríz, and several of his cabinet picks. “We have come here to initiate our campaign, in the place where our fatherland begins,” he said. The stage stood under a grand statue of Mexico’s revered nineteenth-century leader Benito Juárez, an avowed hero of López Obrador’s. Juárez, a man of humble Zapotec origins who championed the cause of the disenfranchised, is a kind of Abraham Lincoln figure in Mexico—an emblem of unbending honor and persistence. Looking at the statue, López Obrador said that Juárez was “the best President Mexico ever had.”

In López Obrador’s speech, he likened the current administration to the despots and colonists who had controlled the country before the revolution. He attacked the “colossal dishonesty” that he said had characterized the “neoliberal” policies of Mexico’s last few governments. “The country’s leaders have devoted themselves . . . to concessioning off the national territory,” he said. With his Presidency, the government would “cease to be a factory that produces Mexico’s nouveaux riches.”


López Obrador often speaks of admiring leaders from the nineteen-thirties—including F.D.R. and the pri head Lázaro Cárdenas—and much of his social program recalls the initiatives of those years. In his launch speech, he said that he intended to develop the south of the country, where the agricultural economy has been devastated by inexpensive U.S. food imports. To do this, he proposed to plant millions of trees for fruit and timber, and to build a high-speed tourist train that would connect the beaches of the Yucatán Peninsula with Mayan ruins inland. The tree-planting project alone would create four hundred thousand jobs, he predicted. With these initiatives, he said, people in the south would be able to stay in their villages and not have to travel north for work.

Across the country, he would encourage construction projects that used hand tools rather than modern machinery, in order to boost the economy in rural communities. Pensions for the elderly would double. There would be free Internet in Mexico’s schools, and in its public spaces. Young people would be guaranteed scholarships, and then jobs after graduation. He wanted “becarios sí, sicarios no”—scholarship students, not contract killers.

For many audiences, especially in the south, these proposals are appealingly simple. When López Obrador is asked how he will pay for them, he tends to offer a similarly seductive answer. “It’s not a problem!” he said, in one speech. “There is money. What there is is corruption, and we’re going to stop it.” By getting rid of official corruption, he has calculated, Mexico could save ten per cent of its national budget. Corruption is a major issue for López Obrador. Marcelo Ebrard, his chief political aide, says that his ethics are informed by a “Calvinist streak,” and even some skeptics have been persuaded of his sincerity. Cassio Luiselli, a longtime Mexican diplomat, told me, “I don’t like his authoritarian streak and confrontational style.” But, he added, “he seems to me to be an honest man, which is a lot to say in these parts.”

López Obrador has vowed that his first bill to Congress would amend an article in the constitution that prevents sitting Mexican Presidents from being tried for corruption. This would be a symbolic deterrent, but an insufficient one; in order to root out corruption, he’d have to purge huge swaths of the government. Last year, the former governor of Chihuahua, charged with embezzlement, fled to the U.S., where he is evading efforts at extradition. More than a dozen other current and former state governors have faced criminal investigations. The attorney general who led some of those inquiries was himself reported to have a Ferrari registered in his name at an unoccupied house in a different state, and, though his lawyer argued that it was an administrative error, he resigned not long afterward. The former head of the national oil company has been accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes. (He denies this.) Peña Nieto, who ran as a reformer, was involved in a scandal in which his wife obtained a luxurious house from a developer with connections to the government; later, his administration was accused of using spyware to eavesdrop on opponents. According to reporting in the Times, state prosecutors have declined to pursue damning evidence against pri officials, to avoid harming the Party’s electoral chances.

With every major party implicated in corruption, López Obrador’s supporters seem to care less about the practicality of his ideas than about his promises to fix a broken government. Emiliano Monge, a prominent novelist and essayist, said, “This election really began to cease being political a few months ago and became emotional. It is more than anything a referendum against corruption, in which, as much by right as by cleverness, amlo has presented himself as the only alternative. And in reality he is.”

For months, López Obrador’s team crisscrossed the country. Arriving in a tiny cow town called Guadalupe Victoria, he told me that he had been there twenty times. After a long day of speeches and meetings in Sinaloa, we had dinner as he prepared to travel to Tijuana, where he had a similar agenda the next day. He looked a little weary, and I asked if he was planning a break. He nodded, and told me that, during Easter, he’d go to Palenque, in the southern state of Chiapas, where he had a ranchito in the jungle. “I go there and don’t come out again for three or four days,” he said. “I just look at the trees.”

For the most part, though, communing with the crowds seemed to energize him. In Delicias, it took him twenty minutes to walk a single block, as supporters pressed in for selfies and kisses and held up banners that read “amlove”—one of his campaign slogans. Appearances with his opponents and encounters with the media suit him less. At times, he has responded to forceful questions from reporters with a wave of his pinkie—in Mexico, a peremptory no. In 2006, he declined to attend the first Presidential debate; his opponents left an empty chair for him onstage.

There were three debates scheduled for this campaign season, and they were amlo’s to lose. By May 20th, when the second one was held, in Tijuana, polls said that he had an estimated forty-nine per cent of the vote. His nearest rival—Ricardo Anaya, a thirty-nine-year-old lawyer who is the pan candidate—had twenty-eight per cent. José Antonio Meade, who had served Peña Nieto as finance secretary and foreign secretary, trailed with twenty-one. In last place, with two per cent, was Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, the governor of the state of Nuevo León. An intemperate tough guy known as El Bronco, he has made his mark on the campaign by suggesting that corrupt officials should have their hands chopped off.

With López Obrador in the lead, his opponents’ debate strategy was to make him look defensive, and at times it worked. At one point, Anaya, a small man with the buzz-cut hair and frameless glasses of a tech entrepreneur, walked across the stage to confront López Obrador. At first, amlo reacted mildly. He reached for his pocket and exclaimed, “I’m going to protect my wallet.” The mood lightened. But when Anaya challenged him on one favorite initiative, a train line connecting the Caribbean and the Pacific, he was so affronted that he called Anaya a canalla, a scoundrel. He went on, using the diminutive form of Anaya’s first name to create a rhyming ditty that poked fun at his stature: “Ricky, riquín, canallín.”

When Meade, the pri candidate, criticized López Obrador’s party for voting against a trade agreement, amlo replied that the debate was merely an excuse to attack him. “It’s obvious, and, I would say, understandable,” he said. “We are leading by twenty-five points in the polls.” Otherwise, he hardly bothered to look Meade’s way, except to wave dismissively at him and Anaya and call them representatives of “the power mafia.”

Nevertheless, his lead in polls only grew. Two days later, in the resort town of Puerto Vallarta, thousands of fans surrounded his white S.U.V., holding it in place until police opened a pathway. On social media, video clips circulated of well-wishers bending down to kiss his car.

Ever since he lost the election of 2006, López Obrador has presented himself as an avatar of change. He founded a new party, the National Regeneration Movement, or morena, which Duncan Wood, the director of the Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center, described as evocative of the early pri—an effort to sweep up everyone who felt that Mexico had gone astray. “He went around the country signing agreements with people,” Wood said. “ ‘Do you want to be part of a change? Yes? Then sign here.’ ” morena has an increasing number of sympathizers but relatively few official members; last year, it had three hundred and twenty thousand, making it the country’s fourth-largest party. As López Obrador’s campaign has gathered strength, he has welcomed partners that seem profoundly incompatible. In December, morena forged a coalition with the P.T., a party with Maoist origins; it also joined with the pes, an evangelical Christian party that opposes same-sex marriage, homosexuality, and abortion. Some of his aides intimate that López Obrador could sever these ties after he wins, but not everyone is convinced. “What terrifies me most are his political alliances,” Luis Miguel González, of El Economista, told me.

At a rally in the town of Gómez Palacio, some of these alliances collided messily. In an open-air market on the edge of town, P.T. partisans occupied a large area near the stage—an organized bloc of young men wearing red T-shirts and waving flags with yellow stars. Onstage with López Obrador was the Party’s chief, Beto Anaya. One of López Obrador’s aides winced visibly and grumbled, “That guy has quite a few corruption scandals.” (Anaya denies accusations against him.) As local leaders gathered, a young woman walked to the microphone, and boos erupted from the crowd. The aide explained that the woman was Alma Marina Vitela, a morena candidate who had formerly been with the pri. The booing gathered strength, and Vitela stood frozen, looking at the crowd, seemingly unable to speak. López Obrador strode over, put his arm around her, and took the microphone. “We need to leave our differences and conflicts behind,” he said. The booing quickly stopped. “The fatherland is first!” he shouted, and cheers broke out.

With the P.T. partisans in the audience, López Obrador’s speech took on a distinctly more radical edge. “This party is an instrument for the people’s struggle,” he said, and added, “In union there is strength.” He went on, “Mexico will produce everything it consumes. We will stop buying from abroad.” After each of his points, the P.T. militants cheered in unison, and someone banged a drum.

Over dinner that night, we spoke about morena’s prospects. López Obrador boasted that, although the party remains considerably smaller than its rivals, it was able to reliably mobilize partisans. “There are few movements on the left in Latin America with the power to put people on the street anymore,” he said.

Not long before, a prominent Communist leader in the region had told me that the Latin American left was largely dead, because there were almost no unions anymore. Unions were once a powerhouse of regional politics, supplying credibility and votes; in recent decades, many have succumbed to corruption or internal divisions, or have been co-opted by business owners. López Obrador smiled when I mentioned it. The largest Mexican miners’ union had recently offered to support his campaign. In 2006, the head of the union, Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, was charged with trying to embezzle a workers’ trust fund of fifty-five million dollars; he fled to Canada, where he obtained citizenship and wrote a best-selling book about his travails. In López Obrador’s telling, he had been punished for taking on mine owners. “They own everything, and they call the shots,” he said.

Urrutia was exonerated in 2014, but he still felt that he was vulnerable to new charges if he returned. López Obrador took up his cause, offering him a seat in the Senate, which would provide him immunity from prosecution. López Obrador’s critics were enraged. “You should have seen the outcry!” he said. “They really attacked me. But it’s dying down again now.” With a mocking look, he said, “I told them that, if the Canadians thought he was fine, then maybe he wasn’t so bad after all.” Rolling his eyes, he said, “You know, here they think the Canadians are all things good.”

López Obrador told me that he also had the backing of the teachers’ union, then hastened to clarify: “The unofficial one—not the corrupted official one.” Peña Nieto’s government had passed educational reforms, and the measures had been unpopular with teachers. “They are now with us,” he said, then added, “The official—compromised, corrupted—teachers’ union has also given me its support.” He grimaced. “This is the kind of support one doesn’t really need, but in a campaign you need support, so we will go forward, and hope to find ways to clean them up.”

A few weeks later, I rejoined López Obrador on the road in Chihuahua, Mexico’s biggest state. South of Ciudad Juárez and its dusty belt of low-wage factories, Chihuahua is cowboy country—a wide-open place of vast prairies and forested mountains. For several days, we drove hundreds of miles back and forth through the rangelands.

This territory had once been a base for Pancho Villa’s revolutionary army in its fight against the dictator Porfirio Díaz; the landscape was dotted with the sites of battles and mass executions. One day, outside a men’s bathroom at a rest stop, López Obrador looked out at the plain, waved his arms, and said, “Villa and his men marched all through these parts for years. But just imagine the difference: he and his men covered most of these miles by horse, while we’re in cars.”

López Obrador has written half a dozen books on Mexico’s political history. Even more than most Mexicans, he is aware of the country’s history of subjugation and sensitive to its echoes in the rhetoric of the Trump Administration. When we stopped for lunch at a modest restaurant off the highway, he spoke of the invasion of 1846, known in the U.S. as the Mexican-American War and in Mexico as the United States’ Intervention in Mexico. That conflict ended with the humiliating cession of more than half the nation’s territory to the United States, but López Obrador saw in it at least a few examples of valor. At one point during the war, he said, Commodore Matthew Perry arrayed a huge U.S. fleet off the coast of Veracruz. “He had overwhelming superiority, and sent word to the commander of the town to surrender so as to save the city and its people,” he said. “And you know what the commander told Perry? ‘My balls are too big to fit into your Capitol building. Get it on.’ And so Perry opened fire, and devastated Veracruz.” López Obrador laughed. “But pride was saved.” For a moment, he mused about whether victory was more important than a grand gesture that could mean defeat. Finally, he said he believed that the grand gesture was important—“for history’s sake, if for nothing else.”


We were interrupted by members of the family that ran the restaurant, politely asking for a selfie. As López Obrador got up to oblige them, he said, “This country has its personalities—but Donald Trump!” He raised his eyebrows in disbelief, and, with a laugh, hit the table with both hands.

Early in Trump’s term, López Obrador presented himself as an antagonist; along with his condemnatory speeches, he filed a complaint at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in Washington, D.C., protesting the Administration’s border wall and its immigration policy. When I mentioned the wall to him, he smiled scornfully and said, “If he goes ahead with it, we will go to the U.N. to denounce it as a human-rights violation.” But he added that he had come to understand, from watching Trump, that it was “not prudent to take him on directly.”

On the campaign trail, he has generally resisted grand gestures. Not long before the speech in Gómez Palacio, Trump sent National Guard troops to the Mexican border. López Obrador suggested an almost pacifist response: “We’ll organize a demonstration along the entire length of the border—a political protest, all dressed in white!”

Mostly, López Obrador has offered calls for mutual respect. “We will not rule out the possibility of convincing Donald Trump just how wrong his foreign policy, and particularly his contemptuous attitude toward Mexico, have been,” he said in Ciudad Juárez. “Neither Mexico nor its people will be a piñata for any foreign power.” Offstage, he suggested that it was morally necessary to restrain Trump’s isolationist tendencies. “The United States can’t become a ghetto,” he said. “It would be a monumental absurdity.” He said that he hoped to be able to negotiate a new rapport with Trump. When I expressed skepticism, he pointed to Trump’s fluctuating comments about the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un: “It shows that his positions aren’t irreducible ones, but made for appearances’ sake.” Behind the scenes, López Obrador’s aides have reached out to counterparts in the Trump Administration, trying to establish working relationships.

A more aggressive position would give López Obrador little advantage over his opponents in the campaign. When I asked Jorge Guajardo, the former Ambassador, what role Trump had at this point in the election, he said, “Zero. And for a very simple reason—everyone in Mexico opposes him equally.” In office, though, he could find that it is in his interest to present more forceful resistance. “Look at what happened to those leaders who right away tried to make nice with Trump,” Guajardo said. “Macron, Merkel, Peña Nieto, and Abe—they’ve all lost out. But look at Kim Jong Un! Trump seems to like those who reject him. And I think the same scenario will apply to Andrés Manuel.”

In campaign events, López Obrador speaks often of mexicanismo—a way of saying “Mexico first.” Observers of the region say that, when the two countries’ interests compete, he is likely to look inward. Mexico’s armed forces and law enforcement have often had to be persuaded to coöperate with the United States, and he will probably be less willing to pressure them. The U.S. lobbied Peña Nieto, successfully, to harden Mexico’s southern border against the flow of Central American migrants. López Obrador has announced that he will instead move immigration headquarters to Tijuana, in the north. “The Americans want us to put it on the southern border with Guatemala, so that we will do their dirty work for them,” he said. “No, we’ll put it here, so we can look after our immigrants.” Regional officials fear that Trump is preparing to pull out of nafta. López Obrador, who has often called for greater self-sufficiency, might be happy to let it go. In the speech that launched his campaign, he said that he hoped to develop the country’s potential so that “no threat, no wall, no bullying attitude from any foreign government, will ever stop us from being happy in our own fatherland.”

Even if López Obrador is inclined to build a closer relationship, the pressures from both inside and outside the country may prevent it. “You can’t be the President of Mexico and have a pragmatic relationship with Trump—it’s a contradiction in terms,” González said. “Until now, Mexico has been predictable, and Trump has been the one providing the surprises. I think it’s now going to be amlo who provides the surprise factor.”

One morning in Parral, the city where Pancho Villa died, López Obrador and I had breakfast as he prepared for a speech in the plaza. He acknowledged that the transformation Villa helped bring about had been bloody, but he was confident that the transformation he himself was proposing would be peaceful. “I am sending messages of tranquillity, and I am going to continue to do so,” he said. “And, quite apart from my differences with Trump, I have treated him with respect.”

I told him that many Mexicans wondered whether he had moderated his early radical beliefs. “No,” he said. “I’ve always thought the same way. But I act according to the circumstances. We have proposed an orderly change, and our strategy seems to have worked. There is less fear now. More middle-class people have come on board, not only the poor, and there are businesspeople, too.”

There are limits to López Obrador’s inclusiveness. Many young metropolitan Mexicans are wary of what they see as his lack of enthusiasm for contemporary identity politics. I asked if he been able to change their minds. “Not much,” he said, matter-of-factly. “Look, in this world there are those who give more importance to politics of the moment—identity, gender, ecology, animals. And there’s another camp, which is not the majority, but which is more important, which is the struggle for equal rights, and that’s the camp I subscribe to. In the other camp, you can spend your life criticizing, questioning, and administering the tragedy without ever proposing the transformation of the regime.”

López Obrador sometimes says that he wants to be regarded as a leader of the stature of Benito Juárez. I asked if he really believed that he could remake the country in such a historic way. “Yes,” he replied. He looked at me directly. “Yes, yes. We are going to make history, I am clear about that. I know that when one is a candidate one sometimes says things and makes promises that can’t be fulfilled—not because one doesn’t want to but because of the circumstances. But I think I can confront the circumstances and fulfill those promises.”

This is the message that excites his supporters and worries his opponents: a promise to transform the country without disrupting it. I thought about a speech he gave one night in Ciudad Cuauhtémoc, a neglected-looking mining town surrounded by mountains. Ciudad Cuauhtémoc was remote from most of Mexico’s citizens, but people there felt the same frustrations with corruption and economic predation. The area was dominated by drug cartels, according to López Obrador’s aides, and the economy was troubled. A local morena leader spoke with frustration about “foreign mining companies exploiting the treasures under our soil.”

The audience was full of cowboys wearing hats and boots; a group of indigenous Tarahumara women stood to one side, wearing traditional embroidered dresses. López Obrador seemed at home there, and his speech was angrier and less guarded than usual. He promised his listeners a “radical revolution,” one that would give them the country they wanted. “ ‘Radical’ comes from the word ‘roots,’ ” he said. “And we’re going to pull this corrupt regime out by its roots.” ♦

This article appears in the print edition of the June 25, 2018, issue, with the headline “Mexico First.”

Jon Lee Anderson, a staff writer, began contributing to the magazine in 1998. He is the author of several books, including “The Fall of Baghdad.”Read more »

Never miss a big New Yorker story again. Sign up for This Week’s Issue and get an e-mail every week with the stories you have to read.




© 2018 Condé Nast. All rights reserved. Use of and/or registration on any portion of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated 5/25/18) and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement (updated 5/25/18). Your California Privacy Rights. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. The New Yorker may earn a portion of sales from products and services that are purchased through links on our site as part of our affiliate partnerships with retailers. Ad Choices

Privacy/Cookie Policy & User Agreement
Our Privacy Policy and User Agreement have changed. By using or registering on any portion of this site, you agree to our updated User Agreement and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement.

G M

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 16944
    • View Profile
Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #672 on: June 18, 2018, 08:02:54 PM »
All Mexicans offended by Trump should immediately return to Mexico in protest!

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #673 on: June 18, 2018, 11:05:05 PM »
Thank you very much CCP!!!

DougMacG

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 11281
    • View Profile
Re: NYorker mag on Mexico
« Reply #674 on: June 19, 2018, 03:38:52 AM »
From the article:  "my strongest feeling about him is that we don’t know what to expect.”"

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #675 on: June 19, 2018, 10:06:51 AM »

In addition to his behavior in the aftermath of his presidential loss, there is the very fact that he heads the pretty hard left PRD,  which was formed as a breakaway from the PRI by Munoz Ledo, right hand man to President and general scum bag Luis Echevarria (1970-76) who as the #2 man under the prior president shot down hundreds in 1968.

DougMacG

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 11281
    • View Profile
Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #676 on: June 19, 2018, 11:01:05 AM »
Crafty:
"In addition to his behavior in the aftermath of his presidential loss, there is the very fact that he heads the pretty hard left PRD,  which was formed as a breakaway from the PRI by Munoz Ledo, right hand man to President and general scum bag Luis Echevarria (1970-76) who as the #2 man under the prior president shot down hundreds in 1968."


I take it you see a Chavez-like disaster coming to Mexico?

What should we do?

Secure our country.  Build the wall.

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #677 on: June 19, 2018, 09:16:58 PM »
AMLO was reasonably competent as mayor of Mexico City -- which has something like 14 million people-- running it is not an easy gig!

In fairness, this would not be the first time that a Mexican politician has run on radical language and then not fully followed through. 

OTOH, for virtually everyone in Mexico, Trump is a true boogie man and opposing him will be EXTREMELY popular and it will be easy and tempting to blame him for whatever woes befall Mexico due to AMLOs policies.  As a man of the PRD, the woes he triggers may well be many.

Buckle up!



Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #680 on: June 24, 2018, 11:13:38 AM »
 A hostile act certainly, but specifically what response should be taken?

G M

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 16944
    • View Profile
Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #681 on: June 24, 2018, 11:22:42 AM »
A hostile act certainly, but specifically what response should be taken?


Seize a defensible chunk of land and create a military zone of control. All detainees can be housed there until they are adjudicated. All the Mexican national swept up in the CONUS can also be moved there until their appeals are exhausted. Minefields are quick and easy until the wall can be completed.

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
GPF: Political stability in trouble , , ,
« Reply #682 on: June 25, 2018, 09:02:33 AM »
Two reports have concluded that Mexico’s police are corrupt and unable to maintain the rule of law. As Mexico heads into elections on July 1, more than 100 politicians have been assassinated. The most recent is a mayoral candidate in the small city of Ocampo. In response, Mexican federal authorities detained the town’s entire 27-person police force, as well as the local public security secretary. These kinds of stories are unfortunately becoming commonplace, but even more disturbing is a report by the Executive Secretary of the National Public Security System, which estimated that there was a police shortfall of 95,900 officers (a shortfall owed in part to officers’ unreliability) and that it would take at least three and a half years to fill the gaps. From both a short- and long-term perspective, this does not bode well for political stability in Mexico.

=========
I've reached my freebie limit with the New Yorker.  Could someone get this please?

https://www.newyorker.com/news/dispatch/how-the-humanitarian-crisis-on-the-mexico-border-could-worse?mbid=nl_Daily%20062418&CNDID=50142053&spMailingID=13750639&spUserID=MjAxODUyNTc2OTUwS0&spJobID=1422200749&spReportId=MTQyMjIwMDc0OQS2

This one too please:

https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/trumps-opponents-arent-arguing-for-open-bordersbut-maybe-they-should?mbid=nl_Daily%20062318&CNDID=50142053&spMailingID=13744569&spUserID=MjAxODUyNTc2OTUwS0&spJobID=1422054528&spReportId=MTQyMjA1NDUyOAS2

« Last Edit: June 25, 2018, 09:16:51 AM by Crafty_Dog »

ccp

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 9598
    • View Profile
Only Trump could be serious enough
« Reply #683 on: June 26, 2018, 05:35:29 AM »
to implement these solutions.  Once he is gone we're done:

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/06/mexico-what-went-wrong-economy-based-on-exporting-poor-people/

Doesn't reading this make you want to run Ryan out of DC as fast as possible ? 

DougMacG

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 11281
    • View Profile
Re: Only Trump could be serious enough
« Reply #684 on: June 26, 2018, 07:22:14 AM »
to implement these solutions.  Once he is gone we're done:

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/06/mexico-what-went-wrong-economy-based-on-exporting-poor-people/
...

VDH is right on the money all the way through as usual.  All of these facts and all of these recent news stories lead to the same logical conclusion, build the wall, and pass and enforce the accompanying laws that protect our sovereignty and stop the invasion. 

Families separated as they enter illegally?  Build the wall.  To address the danger of a new, anti-American government south of the border, build the wall.  Gangs controlling entry, raping and profiteering off the illegals?  Build the wall.  Arms, drugs, terrorists coming in?  Build the wall.

The liberal position of no borders or enforcement is naively supported by about 20% of the country but happens to include, it seems, nearly all Democrats in power.  Hypocrisy and Leftism are synonymous but it is simple math and social science that you cannot have both open borders and a generous welfare system.  Choose one, or neither.

ccp is right, this needs to be fixed now, under Trump.  Is he waiting for the mid-terms?  Will things be better after the mid-terms?  Is he keeping it on the table as a political issue, like Democrats do?  Waiting is a dangerous policy.  We needed this in 1987.  We needed this in 2005.  We need it far more now. 

Is this Ryan's fault. If so, is it easier under Pelosi?  Is it not done because 49 Dem Senators will never support it?  Republicans might gain 1, 2 or 3 Senate seats, but will never have 60.
-------------
I drove with a group into British Columbia Canada and back earlier this year.  All vehicles stop and get questioned in both directions.  The checkpoints are a big deal.  ID is required. Law abiding citizens don't risk entering illegally - even though it's just Canada.  Why would we assume you have respect for the laws of the country you are entering if you're first act is to break the law?

G M

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 16944
    • View Profile
Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #685 on: June 26, 2018, 08:50:50 AM »
“We have to build a wall because Democrats wouldn’t let us have a border.” -Bill Whittle


Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
WSJ: Mexico's Presidential Watershed
« Reply #687 on: June 29, 2018, 09:28:05 AM »
No mention of his assertion that Mexicans have a right to live in the US, no discussion of the Narco Wars, passage of Central Americans to the US, etc , , ,


================================



Mexico’s Presidential Watershed
The country may elect a left-wing populist who says he’s changed. Has he?
By The Editorial Board
June 28, 2018 6:37 p.m. ET
155 COMMENTS

Mexicans head to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president, and the biggest question is whether a country that has made great political and economic strides is about to slide backward.

The question takes the form of leftwing Morena party candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who is the heavy favorite to win after two previous losses. The 64-year-old AMLO, as he is known, claims to have moderated his views but retains his zeal for the corporatist Mexico of the 1970s. With a six-year term he could reverse the progress this nation of 130 million has made to becoming a modern, advanced democracy.


It’s worth recalling how recent and substantial that progress is. For decades through the early 1980s, Mexico was a one-party, inward-looking state run by the PRI.

President Miguel de la Madrid (1982-1988) recognized the need for change and started the reform era by joining the global trade regime in 1986. President Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994) privatized most state enterprises and signed the North American Free Trade Agreement. Ernesto Zedillo was also a modernizer, laying the groundwork for the first truly transparent competitive election in 2000.

Vicente Fox of the National Action Party (PAN) and PAN successor Felipe Calderón continued this market opening. The PRI came back in 2012 with the election of President Enrique Peña Nieto, who has pushed formerly unthinkable reforms to open Mexico’s energy and telecom markets and demand accountability for teachers.

The changes have lifted Mexico from an economy dependent on oil exports to a manufacturing powerhouse with a rising middle class. From shoes and cell phones to dining out and better education at all levels, Mexicans are more prosperous than ever.

Yet as young, U.S.-educated technocrats moved into government, the old guard at the PRI, including Mr. López Obrador, broke away. AMLO lost presidential bids in 2006 and 2012 and has moderated his views in his third try. He has dropped his opposition to Nafta and talks about the need to continue Mexico’s economic progress. The effort has calmed some fears—not least about politicizing the central bank.

Yet AMLO remains a man of the left whose instincts are for state economic control. For decades he described Mexican oil reserves as the property of “the people,” meaning the government. He now says he’ll respect private contracts as long as he deems them fair, which implies political leverage over investment. And he says Mexico should aspire to be self-sufficient in agriculture and gasoline.

AMLO is running against corruption, but he hasn’t practiced transparency. As mayor of Mexico City he opposed a “freedom of information” law and used no-bid contracts. He had financial records for the city’s multimillion-dollar elevated highway classified.

Optimists say he is following the playbook of Brazil’s Lula da Silva, another leftist whose close links to Fidel Castro spooked investors when he was elected president in 2002. Lula calmed markets with the right talk and presided over a short-lived, commodity-led boom. But he gradually undermined central bank independence, openness to foreign investors and fiscal discipline. By the time his Workers’ Party left after 13 years, corruption was rife and Brazil endured a near three-year recession.

A victorious AMLO would command significant power even if his Morena party doesn’t win a majority in Congress. He’d be able to name at least three members to the 11-member Supreme Court, four vice governors of the central bank and a new central bank governor in 2021. That would leave financial markets and trade agreements as the main checks on his power.

AMLO can win with a plurality of the vote against his two main competitors, but it’s possible that middle-class Mexicans will have final-week doubts and turn him away one more time. If he does win, he will pose a test for President Trump, as he is likely to seek alliances with the region’s left-wing governments.

Mexicans are responsible for their own political choices, but Mr. Trump’s anti-Mexican rhetoric has encouraged the response of AMLO’s left-wing nationalism. Americans have underestimated the importance of having a reform-minded, prospering democracy on its southern border. They may have to deal with a different reality for the next six years.

G M

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 16944
    • View Profile
Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #688 on: June 29, 2018, 12:31:36 PM »
Since when have we had a reform minded prospering democracy on our southern border? Last I checked, we have a failing narco state that as national policy, does it’s best to export its poverty problems to us.

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
Stratfor: Mexico's historical election
« Reply #689 on: June 30, 2018, 08:17:52 AM »
    The populist front-runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador appears likely to win Mexico's presidential election on July 1, and his coalition will likely emerge from the congressional balloting in a much stronger position.
    Lopez Obrador's agenda will depend on his control of Congress. Without at least a lower house majority, he will find it virtually impossible to make good on many campaign promises.
    Whoever wins the presidency in the July 1 election can be expected to take the same general approach as the previous government to negotiating NAFTA with Canada and the United States.

Historic elections that could change the political face of the country are fast approaching for Mexico. On July 1 — for the first time since the founding of the modern Mexican state — voters could elect a president outside of the two political parties that have held the post for more than 70 years. That candidate is the populist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is running as the head of a coalition led by his National Regeneration Movement (Morena). For more than a year, Lopez Obrador has led in the polls, widening his lead as he gained popularity among undecided voters and supporters of the other major parties. Now, he seems poised to win the election with a third to half of the vote, and according to some polls, he could also gain a majority in both houses of Congress, where all 628 seats are up for election. Those majorities would mean that, upon taking office in December, Lopez Obrador would not need the votes of any opposition political party to pursue his agenda. But regardless of who wins, the most pressing foreign policy topic will be the United States and NAFTA.

The Big Picture

Populist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador appears poised to win the presidency in Mexico, and his coalition is expected make gains in both houses of Congress. His policies remain unclear, but there are clear signs that Lopez Obrador intends to review oil and gas contracts awarded since 2015. Any other aggressive legislative action will depend on whether his coalition seizes congressional majorities.

See The Importance of Mexico

AMLO: Promises and Reality

Lopez Obrador, who often goes by the initials AMLO, has frequently criticized the private sector in Mexico, as well as the political elites for their supposed acquiescence to corruption. The three-time presidential candidate has turned widespread dissatisfaction with government fraud into political gains over the past two years. But turning his broad campaign promises into action will likely meet with uneven results. Some pledges, such as higher public spending, can be enacted with legislative majorities; others, such as an attack on deep-rooted corruption, could meet more resistance from political opponents. Still, other promises, such as an oil export ban to benefit domestic consumers, will be economically counterproductive and will meet with resistance from technocrats at government ministries.

In the case of corruption, Lopez Obrador has several options for taking a more aggressive approach. The easiest path would involve purging government ministries of employees suspected of irregularities. A more difficult route would be the establishment of a stronger nationwide anti-corruption agency or process capable of investigating and referring cases for prosecution. Even without clear majorities in either house after July 1, his administration could still bring the proposal for such an agency to the floor of Congress for a vote. Because of widespread public resentment against official corruption, it would be politically difficult for the two other major parties, the National Action Party (PAN) and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), to oppose such a move even if their own elites could eventually be threatened by it.

A chart shows the changes in party composition of Mexico's lower house of Congress over time.

Another big campaign issue for Lopez Obrador is social spending. Though his policies remain unclear, his rhetoric suggests he will try to adjust government budgets to redirect funds to welfare programs. Even without a clear Senate majority, his government could still use a lower house majority to get the Senate to approve his spending priorities. But Carlos Manuel Urzua Macias, who may be his pick for finance minister, appears to support more pragmatic economic and fiscal policies, such as pushing for a quicker resolution to NAFTA talks, delaying a freeze on fuel prices and reining in government spending.

On the business front, a Lopez Obrador presidency could have a big impact on the Mexican private sector and foreign investors. He will almost certainly move to review oil and gas exploration and production contracts awarded since 2015. A longtime critic of the 2013 energy reform, Lopez Obrador will not be able to reverse the constitutional reform that opened the energy sector to private capital. And even with a two-house majority, he may not be able to significantly amend the reform's secondary legislation, because of the subsequent fiscal and economic benefits of rising oil and gas production. But a contract review could allow him to slow or temporarily suspend future bidding rounds, particularly if evidence of corruption is uncovered. Despite this risk, foreign investors appear to have bet on Mexico in the long term by snapping up exploration and production areas in 2017 and 2018.

A chart shows the changes in party composition in Mexico's Senate over time.

NAFTA and the U.S. Elephant in the Room

On the foreign policy front, Mexico's biggest challenge under a new president will likely be the successful completion of negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Canada. Concerns about other aspects of Lopez Obrador's foreign policy — suggestions that he would antagonize Washington by negotiating with criminal groups or would alter the country's military-dominated domestic security policy — are likely unfounded. But whoever wins the presidency will have to face the NAFTA negotiations in some form or another. The discussions could even be headed toward completion before a new president takes office — assuming that Mexico and Canada agree to U.S. demands, such as more stringent rules of origin for the automotive sector or a sunset clause for the agreement.

Or the trade negotiations could head down a rockier path. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump could stick to its hard-line demands and threaten to withdraw from the agreement. In that case, Mexico City and Ottawa would probably wait and hope that the U.S. Congress would restrain the White House's power to undo the agreement. If Congress steps in, a withdrawal may be beyond the administration's power, and the White House may decide that it is not in its political interests to fight for it ahead of 2018 midterm elections and the 2020 presidential vote.

A bar chart shows the U.S. goods trade deficit with Mexico over time.

Despite whoever is elected president, Mexico is still likely to take the same broad approach toward NAFTA negotiations, assuming they are still going on in December. In Mexico, the deal is widely regarded by the country's elites as being economically beneficial, so even a Lopez Obrador administration would try to preserve the trilateral deal. However, enough uncertainty remains in the talks that a satisfactory conclusion for Mexico is still in doubt. With negotiations effectively stalled, Mexico is looking, at best, at a prolonged limbo, which draws out the uncertainty for foreign investors and Mexico's private sector. At worst, Mexico's economy could suffer if the Trump administration moves ahead with Section 232 tariffs on automobile imports or moves to end U.S. membership in NAFTA.

If Lopez Obrador wins on July 1, his initial impact on Mexico's political scene will depend on his margin of victory and on whether he controls any houses of Congress. Any major gains by the Morena coalition in the Senate and lower house would likely drive the PAN and PRI into a rapid alliance to fend off Lopez Obrador's legislative advances. If his coalition takes majorities, the opposition's options will be much more limited. It will have to rely on the federal court system to slow any legislation it deems controversial, including attempts to amend the 2013 education reform, to enact laws to implement a cease-fire with criminal groups or to rewrite parts of the 2014 secondary laws for the energy reform. Nevertheless, the future for Mexico starts at the polls.


ccp

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 9598
    • View Profile
Lopez Obrador
« Reply #691 on: July 02, 2018, 08:44:46 AM »
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-44677829

I like his commitment to fight narco crime and corruption
He is saying he is not planning to Nationalize anything.

Conciliatory with Trump.

We will see.

No mention about emigration though.

G M

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 16944
    • View Profile
Re: Lopez Obrador
« Reply #692 on: July 02, 2018, 08:54:53 AM »
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-44677829

I like his commitment to fight narco crime and corruption
He is saying he is not planning to Nationalize anything.

Conciliatory with Trump.

We will see.

No mention about emigration though.

http://raconteurreport.blogspot.com/2018/07/chavismo-on-your-doorstep.html

Act accordingly.

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
Stratfor: AMLO gets a majority in Congress
« Reply #693 on: July 03, 2018, 08:11:11 AM »
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been declared the winner of Mexico's July 1 presidential election, and now that nearly all the votes from the federal elections of the same day have been counted, the country's populist president-elect and his National Regeneration Movement (Morena) have emerged as big winners in Congress as well. Preliminary information from the National Electoral Council, reported July 3, indicate that Lopez Obrador's National Regeneration coalition will pick up about 69 seats in the Senate and about 309 in the lower house. These figures will give Morena uncontested majorities in both houses of Congress.

These majorities are crucial because they will allow Lopez Obrador's party to legislate without the input of political opponents such as the center-right National Action Party (PAN) or the centrist Revolutionary Institutional Party (PRI), which has been Mexico's ruling party for several years — until these most recent elections.

Morena's control of the legislature means the PRI and PAN will have to resort to Mexico's federal court system to slow any legislative changes they deem controversial. These issues may include attempts by Morena to amend parts of the previous administration's showcase energy and education reforms.

Indeed, having won the majority in Congress, Lopez Obrador's coalition can now begin seriously considering a far more ambitious legislative agenda than that of his predecessors in the PRI. Initiatives such as significantly increasing social spending are well within his political faction's grasp, and so are changes to secondary legislation underpinning energy reform.

Though the extent of his political power is now fully visible, Lopez Obrador's complete political agenda is not. Now that the July 1 elections have limited the power of Mexico's political minorities and private sector, they will likely begin building connections to Lopez Obrador's coalition in the hopes of shaping the president-elect's agenda. However, without significant congressional leverage to engage in political bartering, PRI and PAN will find themselves increasingly at the mercy of Morena and its allies.

DougMacG

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 11281
    • View Profile
Re: Stratfor: AMLO gets a majority in Congress
« Reply #694 on: July 03, 2018, 10:55:18 AM »
I was also reading something on this from the NYT.  In their mind, they are hopeful because he is a Leftist.

Amlo is a Leftist and a "pragmatist" from the sounds of all the analysts.  My take is that there is a 50% chance this ends in tragedy and a 50% chance this ends in disaster.  I don't want to say that nothing good will come out of this, perhaps because of this we will reach consensus in the US to secure our border and sovereignize our country.

Crazy idea:  If I were the newly elected leader of a developing(?) country, a populist and a pragmatist, and wanted to make Mexico great (again?), I would read the Heritage Freedom Index list of countries and emulate the policies of the most successful ones, enact the building blocks of prosperity and see if it works. 

When you are in a free trade agreement with the US and Canada and competing with the rest of the world, you really need to make all your policies for production competitive.

Unfortunately, that is exactly the opposite of Leftism, see Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea.  Something has to give, the Leftism or the positive results.  He can't and won't have both.

G M

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 16944
    • View Profile
Re: Stratfor: AMLO gets a majority in Congress
« Reply #695 on: July 03, 2018, 12:20:56 PM »
I was also reading something on this from the NYT.  In their mind, they are hopeful because he is a Leftist.

Amlo is a Leftist and a "pragmatist" from the sounds of all the analysts.  My take is that there is a 50% chance this ends in tragedy and a 50% chance this ends in disaster.  I don't want to say that nothing good will come out of this, perhaps because of this we will reach consensus in the US to secure our border and sovereignize our country.

Crazy idea:  If I were the newly elected leader of a developing(?) country, a populist and a pragmatist, and wanted to make Mexico great (again?), I would read the Heritage Freedom Index list of countries and emulate the policies of the most successful ones, enact the building blocks of prosperity and see if it works. 

When you are in a free trade agreement with the US and Canada and competing with the rest of the world, you really need to make all your policies for production competitive.

Unfortunately, that is exactly the opposite of Leftism, see Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea.  Something has to give, the Leftism or the positive results.  He can't and won't have both.


The left and Mexicans will of course blame the US and Trump for the upcoming tragedy/disaster.


Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
No security detail for AMLO?
« Reply #696 on: July 05, 2018, 01:23:38 PM »
Well, looks like AMLO may not be around for long, or he really means it when he says he won't be enforcing the drug laws , , ,

https://www.dailywire.com/news/32648/mexicos-new-president-announces-absolutely-insane-ryan-saavedra?utm_medium=email&utm_content=070518-news&utm_campaign=position1

G M

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 16944
    • View Profile
Re: No security detail for AMLO?
« Reply #697 on: July 05, 2018, 05:13:54 PM »
Well, looks like AMLO may not be around for long, or he really means it when he says he won't be enforcing the drug laws , , ,

https://www.dailywire.com/news/32648/mexicos-new-president-announces-absolutely-insane-ryan-saavedra?utm_medium=email&utm_content=070518-news&utm_campaign=position1

Reality isn’t his thing.

Crafty_Dog

  • Administrator
  • Power User
  • *****
  • Posts: 47759
    • View Profile
Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #698 on: July 05, 2018, 05:33:28 PM »
He'll be a god (seriously!) , , , until he is not.

G M

  • Power User
  • ***
  • Posts: 16944
    • View Profile
Re: Mexico-US matters
« Reply #699 on: July 05, 2018, 05:58:42 PM »
He'll be a god (seriously!) , , , until he is not.

The thin veneer of Catholicism never made Mexico's love of human sacrifice go away.