Tuesday, July 3, 2018

AMLO's sweep (July 3, 2018)

Sunday's electoral results will make president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador the first leader in nearly 20 years to have an outright majority in Congress. Animal Político has details of the breakdown of the coalition in both chambers.

A sign of changing times, the PRI candidate, José Antonio Meade didn't win in a single one of the country's 300 electoral districts. (Animal Político)

For the Wall Street Journal, the drubbing Mexico's tradition parties received Sunday is yet another example of backlash against the political establishment -- like U.S. President Donald Trump's election and Brexit. (On that broader trend, the New York Times notes that: "while corruption, violence and inequality have been major issues in each country, no single ideology or issue explains the rejection of establishment politics.") It's an unprecedented challenge for the hegemonic PRI party, but some commentators say Morena could wind up replacing the dominant party.

Independent candidates (including Pedro Kumamoto), prominent for the first time in Mexican elections, also fared poorly. (Animal Político)

Morena has welcomed a diverse cast of characters into its big tent -- the Guardian profiles a few, including conservatives who joined the leftist leader and a former citizen milita leader.

In a New York Times Español op-ed, Antonio Martínez Velázquez explores the ramifications of the elections for the country's leftist movements.

Though much has been made of his potential populist traits, the Guardian hazards that he has more in common with Brazil's pragmatic leftist Lula than with Trump. (See yesterday's post.) And rather than fear his revolutionary potential, supporters should be wary of the impossible obstacles he will face in effecting real change, argues journalist Katherine Corcoran in a Washington Post opinion piece.

In a New York Times op-ed Pamela Starr analyzes the apparent contradictions between AMLO's ideology and pragmatism, predicting a favorable balance. "Mr. López Obrador is an ideologue who aims to transform Mexico politically, economically and socially, but who prefers a gradual change to rapid revolutionary upheaval. He’s a thin-skinned populist who lashes out against his opponents but operates within the loose constraints of Mexican politics. His goals are ideologically driven, but his programs are mostly pragmatic."

Rather than looking at the international trend, Vice News draws attention to the unique aspects of Mexico's anti-establishment vote, in that voters were reacting to the country's "lethal combination of violence and corruption." Corruption has been such that is has even disrupted traditional PRI clientelistic loyalties, reports the Washington Post.

In terms of U.S. relations, the election is a chance to "reset frayed relations with Washington," explains the Wall Street Journal. Both AMLO and Trump believe NAFTA should be rewritten, though they don't seem to have much overlap on how. 

More likely the new government will lead to further deterioration in the two countries' relationship, and confrontation over how to respond to illegal immigration. López Obrador's sweep gives him a broad mandate to switch directions with the U.S., according to the Washington Post. He will have difficulty reconciling his stated desire for cordial relations with promises for compassion for populations dragged into the drug trade. The Conversation explores how AMLO's compassionate stance o migrants will run afoul of the U.S.

Though AMLO has often criticized Trump publicly, the two had a cordial telephone conversation yesterday. (Guardian)

On the domestic front, López Obrador's future treasury secretary, Carlos Urzúa, told business leaders that the incoming president will seek to reform Mexico's pension system and create an independent fiscal council. He emphasized the goal of maintaining the country's budget surplus and transparency in fiscal and regulatory management. (Animal Político

AMLO's barely outlined proposal to amnesty certain drug trafficking crimes attracted a barrage of criticism during the campaign. Though it was never made clear what exactly it would entail, López Obrador's election represents a mandate for change in the failed policy of war against drugs, according to the New Republic. While amnesty might be a hard sell for the general population, the hard-line strategy that has dominated for the past 12 years could be replaced by a focus on negotiation, reports Reuters.

Election stats: López Obrador won by the largest margin since the country's transition to democracy. But though two-thirds of the country's voters participated, it was not the highest turnout ever. (Animal Político)

News Briefs

  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights created an international group of independent experts (GIEI) to further investigations into repression of protests since April 18. The group includes Claudia Paz y Paz, Amérigo Incalcaterra, Sofía Macher, and Pablo Parenti.
  • David Smilde's weekly roundup of Venezuelan news emphasizes U.S. pressure on countries in the region to take a hard stance against the Venezuelan government. He also reports on a thwarted coup plot and the ongoing migration crisis.
  • Amid a crackdown on dissenters, the government promoted 16,900 military personnel on yesterday as reward for their "loyalty. The military is a key pillar in maintaining the crisis wracked government in power. (AFP)
  • President Juan Orlando Hernández announced the national anti-corruption force will be upgrade to a larger, more integral anti-gang unit. (Confidencial HN)
  • Daniel Langmeier's monthly analysis of human rights in Honduras, for Honduras Forum Switzerland, criticizes MACCIH's track record for shying away from cases involving JOH's close allies. He also gives more analysis on the surprise re-election of attorney general Óscar Chinchilla, denounced as procedurally illicit by rights organizations. (See yesterday's post.)
El Salvador
  • Evangelical churches may provide earthly salvation for Salvadoran gang members hoping for an exit. (NPR)
  • According to Amnesty International, the Chilean state routinely "violates human rights" inside the country’s prisons by failing to take actions to remedy the "inhumane" conditions of inmates. (EFE)
  • The U.S. sees Ecuador as an important ally in the region. (TeleSUR)


  • Brazil's World Cup selection features several stars raised by single mothers, a narrative that is resonating in a country whose households are increasingly led by women. (Guardian)
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ... Latin America Daily Briefing

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