AMLO outside the Senate, Monday, October 26

Worker's Party Deputy Mario di Costanzo Tears Apart Carstens Economic Plan

Friday, August 21, 2009

Howling with the Wolves

The recent silence from this blog is, more than anything else, semantic in origin, to whit: what need is there to 'Deconstruct' Mexico when, as recent reports have amply demonstrated, Mexico is doing its damndest to deconstruct itself? According to the government's own agency INEGI, the economy collapsed 10.3% in annual terms during the second trimester of this year, the worst drop in 70 years, worse even than the Tequila crisis of 1995. But not to fear: Mexico's one major growth industry (no, not the flu) - poverty - is doing better than ever. According to the World Bank, ten million Mexicans have slipped into poverty between 2006 and 2009, raising the total number of officially poor to 54.8 million, over half of the country's entire population of 107 million. Of the 8.3 million new poor coined in Latin America by the crisis, half of them can be found here. In the midst of such suffering, the government comes out with a whiz-bang idea sure to lift all boats: a new ID card, with fingerprints and biometric information so everybody knows who, and how poor, you are! Meanwhile, the drug bloodbath continues unabated; on a visit to Colombia, the Little Napoleon applauds the US plan to further expand its military presence there, than tries to weasel out of having done so (not to worry, once the transformation of Mexico into Colombia II is complete, there will be no further need for him to travel south and genuflect before Urribe); and when even the "left-wing" government of Mexico City is privatizing water services - in the face of all this, this blog, too, has been one more victim of the torpor.

For his part, López Obrador is doing his best to turn himself into a dyed-in-the-wool oaxaqueño: for the next several months, he will be visiting all of the four hundred-odd muncipalities in the state governed through "usos y costumbres," or town-meeting assemblies, rather than through the party system. This on the heels of his visit, over the last two years, to every one of the over two thousand municipalities in the entire country governed (and I use that word very loosely) through the political party system. Now while these actos de presencia are obviously useful in keeping Obrador's profile high and proving to people that he penetrates into the poorest parts of the country where politicians practically never show there faces, a skeptical mind must inquire as to the organizational value (and the word incessantly on his lips is "organization," building a national organization that won't be caught flat-footed when the next fraud comes along) of making five or six whistlestops a day, making a short, campaign-style speech in each town, and then off to the next. Previously, at all of Obrador's stops, computer modules were set up to enroll people into the "legitimate government" and thus build that national organization, though I understand that has been suspended for the time being (in my and my wife's case, we enrolled in the legitimate government over a year ago and have not been subsequently contacted by anyone, not even a mass e-mail mailing - organization?). Clearly, the movement is organizing in some fashion - there are municipal committees, regional committees, etc. but one can only wonder if it will be enough.

Obrador's other reason for being here is the back-scratching alliance he has formed with Gabino Cué, currently a senator for the Convergencia Party for Oaxaca. In exchange for Obrador's support in Cué's second run for governor in 2010, Cué if he were to win, would provide a base of support for an Obrador candidacy in 2012 (as I mentioned in the last post about "out-of-control federalism", having governors on your side helps a lot in campaigns). All this is well and good - alliances are the mother's milk of politics - but recall, Cué started out in the PAN before becoming a Convergencista and Obrador ally, and it is difficult to conceive how a Cué governship would provide a sea change for Oaxaca (although anything, a pile of dung perhaps, would be better than the current horror). Recall that back in 2006, in the depths of the post-electoral crisis and protests, Obrador ran to Chiapas to help Juan Sabines, a PRIista turned PRDista in this case, get elected governor there, and Chiapas, three years later, is in no way the better for it. One starts to wonder, in short, how much Obrador, despite his anti-institutional rhetoric, is still caught in the stick spiderweb, the illusory maya, of party politics, to the detriment of a more genuine (less contaminated, perhaps) form of consciousness-raising and movement-building. Not to be idealists - in the current scheme of things, a connection with parties is necessary for any viable movement; where the greater danger lies, however, is in the movement being subsumed by the party and its aspirations. And the revolving-door system of party affiliations in Mexico only serves to spin the heads of the public and make them ever-more cynical about anybody standing in any party for any office.

Él que con lobos anda a aullar se enseña goes the expression in Spanish. He who runs with wolves soon learns to howl. What remains to be seen is if the national movement headed by López Obrador will prove to be more than just another electoral vehicle which, by participating in a rotten system, legitimizes and ultimely perpetuates it.