Monday, July 2, 2018

AMLO landslide (July 2, 2018)

Source: Animal Político​
​Andrés Manuel López Obrador won Mexico's presidential elections by over 31 points yesterday. (Animal Político) In his first message as victor, AMLO promised to "eradicate" corruption, and assured Mexicans that his political project seeks an "authentic" democracy. (Animal Político.) Current President Enrique Peña Nieto promised a "ordered and efficient" transition, and called AMLO after the electoral institute announced the landslide in its first rapid tally of results. (Animal Político.)

In his speech yesterday, AMLO said he would not construct a dictatorship -- neither hidden nor open. Profound change will be carried out within the parameters of the existing legal order, and he promised freedom of belief, association, expression and -- notably -- business. "I want to go down in history as a good president of Mexico," he said.

The win makes López Obrador the country's first leftist president since the country's transition to democracy 30 years ago, according to the Washington Post. Its a resounding rejection of the ruling PRI party and its main opposition party, the conservative PAN. (AFP) It has been an election of firsts, notes the New York Times, emphasizing the largest margin of victory since democracy. His competitors conceded within 45 minutes of the polls closing. (Another first, reports the New York Times separately.)

López Obrador has traditionally advocated fighting against poverty, but has tempered his anti-business message in this year's campaign. He has promised to fund social programs through cuts in government personnel and salaries and corruption prevention.

Notably, he is against the country's war on drugs, and has advocated reducing violence by targeting poverty, explained the Washington Post before the election.

AMLO has lost presidential elections twice before (possibly due to irregularities in 2006). His dedication to connecting with Mexicans across the country, campaigning in every municipality, is part of the reason for his popularity and perception as an effector of real change, argues Enrique Krauze in a New York Times Español op-ed. Though he has been historically critical of the new president-elect, Krauze notes the strength AMLO's personal charisma will lend him as leader.

AMLO's populism has opened negative comparisons to Hugo Chávez, and, more recently, to Donald Trump. New York Times columnist Bret Stephens emphasized the anger against the political establishment that is partly responsible for AMLO's victory, calling him a "left-wing version" of the U.S. president.

Indeed, the election was a referendum on the way the government has been run, retired Mexican diplomat Andrés Rozenthal told the Washington Post -- but this doesn't mean AMLO equals Trump. Mexicans are reacting to successive governments' failure to address entrenched corruption and insecurity, according to WaPo. Though AMLO has promised change, he is no outsider, rather a career politician who started in the ruling PRI party before breaking off in the 1980's.

NYT has a useful recap of the past few decades of Mexican politics, from the 2000 win by conservative PAN party, the first time in seventy years the country was ruled by a PRI alternative. Vicente Fox's presidency was disappointing, as were the subsequent PRI governments, including that of Peña Nieto, who promised a new and improved party.

Trump is so universally hated by Mexicans, that he wasn't even a campaign issue -- all of the candidates spoke against him. AMLO has said Trump's comments on Mexicans to Nazi views on Jews. (Washington Post.) Nonetheless, he said he will seek a friendly relationship with the neighbor to the north. Trump congratulated López Obrador via Twitter even before the official results were announced, saying "I look very much forward to working with him. There is much to be done that will benefit both the United States and Mexico!"

Mexico, Canada and the U.S. are in the midst of renegotiating NAFTA, a fact alluded to by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau in his congratulations to AMLO yesterday. While AMLO has been critical of NAFTA, he has indicated a willingness to stay in the free trade agreement if terms are favorable.

Authorities said yesterday's election was the largest in Mexican history, with some 3,400 federal, state and local races contested in all. An estimated 89 million voters participated. (Guardian) AMLO's Morena party won five of the nine governorships up for grabs. Morena's candidate Claudia Sheinbaum obtained 47 percent in Ciudad de México. (Animal Político)

Honduran attorney general reelected 

Honduran legislators renewed attorney general Óscar Chinchilla's mandate, which was slated to end in September. Chinchilla wasn't actually on the list of five candidates lawmakers were supposed to choose from, drawing criticisms of the illegitimate election. (ConexiHon) The U.N.'s Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras expressed concern that the illegal procedure could weaken the country's institutions. (Criterio) Of the five candidates actually chosen by the evaluating junta, Daniel Sibrián Bueso was chosen as adjunct attorney general. (Deutsche Welle)

Chinchilla's surprise reelection was supported by 60 legislators from the ruling Partido Nacional, and 24 of the Partido Liberal, along with smaller parties. It was opposed by LIBRE and PAC among others. (ConexiHon)

Though the procedure is being questioned, the choice is being broadly lauded. MACCIH saluted the selection, as did President Juan Orlando Hernández and the main business association, Cohep. (La Prensa) The national prosecutors association also applauded Chinchilla's reelection. (El Heraldo.) Chinchilla been supported in the past by the U.S. embassy and the OAS backed international anti-graft commission MACCIH.

The vote on Friday came after none of the five candidates obtained enough votes in the Thursday legislative session, reports La Prensa which applauds Chinchilla's reelection and track record.

The selection process has been closely watched by observers who emphasize its relevance for ongoing corruption investigations. (See last Tuesday's post.) And it's worth noting that the work of the nominating commission itself has been criticized.

It is a critical moment in the country's fight against corruption.  Two weeks ago federal prosecutors and anti-corruption commission the MACCIH accused 38 politicians, officials and private citizens of illegally funneling some $11.7 million in public funds to political parties, including Hernández's 2013 election campaign. (See June 14's post.) The inquiry is the latest volley in what has turned into a protracted battle between prosecutors and the MACCIH on one side, and political elites on the other, notes the New York Times. Legislators have reacted over the past year to investigations with attempts to legally shield themselves, and a recent Supreme Court ruling appears to have restricted the ability of the attorney general's anti-corruption unit to cooperate with MACCIH. (See Jan 24's post and June 1's post respectively.)

Last week, InSight Crime argued that the high number of legislators implicated in a new investigation into illegal appropriation of public funds calls into question the election of a new attorney general. (See last Thursday's briefs.)

News Briefs

  • At least one demonstrator was killed an another 9 wounded in an attack on a manifestation honoring the children killed in anti-government protests in Nicaragua since April. The so-called March of the Flowers, on Saturday, was held in Mangua, a month after a Mothers' Day march was violently repressed, reports El País.
  • The approximately 220 deaths since April 18 are not receiving the international outrage they merit, argues Miami Herald columnist Andrés Oppenheimer, who calls for international sanctions on Nicaraguan officials.
  • In the meantime, the crisis is having a devastating effect on the country's economy. (AFP)
  • CICIG head Iván Velásquez was ratified in his post for another two years by the United Nations. (El Periódico.)
  • Global cocaine and opium production are at an all-time high according to the latest UNODC World Drug Report, a fact that calls into question decades of policies aimed at repressing production, according to InSight Crime.
  • CARICOM leaders will consider a recommendation to eliminate marijuana prohibitions across member states in an upcoming meeting. (Jamaica Gleaner)
  • The Intercept details how U.S. authorities accuse youths who entered the country as unaccompanied minors of gang affiliation, sometimes detaining them for months.
  • And the New York Times reports on the thousands of dollars paid to illegal networks by desperate migrants fleeing violence in Central America. Clandestine passage to the U.S. can cost upward of $9,200.
  • Striking photographs of items confiscated from migrants in Border Patrol custody during the Bush and Obama years by Tom Kiefer. (New York Times.)
  • Colombia's potential exit from the UNASUR regional bloc would be a diplomatic mistake argues Juan Gabriel Tokatlián in El Tiempo.
  • Former President Dilma Rousseff, impeached two years ago, announced a senate run. She will run for her home state of Minas Gerais, where she will face off against former presidential candidate Aecio Neves, who she beat in the 2014 election. (New York Times)
  • Disapproval of Rousseff's replacement in office, Michel Temer, has dropped even lower, to 4 percent, while his disapproval increased to 79 percent. (Mercopress)
  • Brazil has been praised for its racial fluidity, contrasted with rigid racial boundaries in the U.S. Yet that myth belies the reality of a persistent "whiteness" in the country's economic and power elites, argues Cleuci de Oliveira in a New York Times op-ed. Instead of viewing Brazil as a post-racial society, observers should attune to its "distinct racial quagmires," she writes.
Thanks so much to Elyssa for the excellent briefings in my absence, glad to be back! - Jordana 


  1. Hi Jordana,

    I really enjoy your briefings as I like to keep up with the continent! But one suggestion, as a Dominican-American, I would definitely like to see more of the Caribbean since I know there is always a lot happening. Just a suggestion. Keep up the good work!

  2. Hello Jordana,
    You referred to a NYTimes summary of the past 30 years of Mexican elections. However, there is no link. I searched the Times but can't find any article that fits that description. Could you kindly provide the link. Thanks much. Best, Tom O'D.

  3. Hi, sorry for the lack of clarity, it was linked to in another part of the post. It's here, in the section "Rejecting the Status Quo." Hope that helps!


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