Will Mexico’s López Obrador Meet Dilma Rousseff’s Fate?
July 16 (EIRNS)—The splashy resignation of Mexican Finance Minister Carlos Urzua on July 9 signals the launching of a new, aggressive stage in the Wall Street/City of London drive to tame Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO)—or to put an early end to his Presidency, as was done with Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff in 2016, should he refuse to knuckle under to their policies, and instead maintain his commitment to development and sovereignty. The problem is that AMLO is displaying many of the same strengths and some of the strategic weaknesses of his Brazilian counterpart, Dilma Rousseff, who fought hard against the plot to topple her government based on a preposterous corruption scandal, but lost in large part because she limited her counterattack to the national arena and refused to take on the international forces and policies which were running the operation against her in the first place.
Urzua, a dyed-in-the-wool defender of Wall Street’s neo-liberal economic policies, submitted a scathing public letter of resignation via Twitter, in which he denounced AMLO for incompetent economic policies adopted “without sufficient foundation” and which were not “free of extremism”—meaning Wall Street didn’t like them. Predictably, that same day the Mexican peso came under international financial attack in the markets, and there were also diatribes against AMLO’s policies in the financial media. He was lambasted for daring to balk on the full privatization of Mexico’s energy and electricity sectors, and for proposing to build infrastructure to aid the country’s development. They are also not happy about AMLO’s efforts to work with President Donald Trump to solve the migration problem through joint development projects in Mexico and Central America.
AMLO himself pointed to sharp differences with Urzua over the recently-adopted National Development Plan (PND), as the immediate trigger for his blazing departure. Urzua wrote a draft of the PND which AMLO rejected as unacceptable continuity with the neo-liberal economic policies adopted by Mexican governments since 1982 (ever since José López Portillo left office), and instead personally drafted his own version of the PND, which was subsequently submitted to Congress and approved.
The PND is marked by a strong and accurate attack on neo-liberal economics which destroyed Mexico over the last 36 years, and ends with a worthwhile “Vision of 2024,” which states the goals he proposes to achieve during his six-year administration: “After 36 years of continuous decline, salaries will have recovered at least 20% of their purchasing power”; “No one will go hungry, extreme poverty will have been eradicated, no one will lack medical services or medicine and seniors will receive fair pensions and will be able to live without material shortages”; “In 2021 the goal will be met of achieving self-sufficiency in corn and bean production, and three years later, in rice, beef, pork, poultry and eggs”; “in the last year of the six-year term the emigration of Mexicans abroad caused by work requirements, insecurity and lack of a future, will have ceased”; and “organized crime will have been reduced and will be in retreat ... and indices of criminality will have dropped by 50%.”
Worthy goals, but AMLO’s PND is plagued by three fatal flaws:
First, it points almost entirely to national causes of the problems to be solved, and states next to nothing about foreign policy, either politically or economically. There is no mention whatsoever of the emerging alternative world economic system associated with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, without which Mexico (like the rest of the world) will not be able to achieve significant progress.
Second, it relegates mention of the role of science and technology in achieving economic growth to a two-sentence afterthought—on p. 58 of a 63-page document. The PND does talk about infrastructure, weakly, stating: “The Maya Train is the most important infrastructure, socio-economic development and tourism project of the current administration.... The Maya Train is a project oriented to increase the economic benefits of tourism on the Yucatan Peninsula.” It argues that growth can be financed by the chimera of using only resources recovered by fighting corruption, while maintaining Mexico’s onerous debt service payments and accepting Wall Street’s demand that the “autonomy of the central bank” be religiously maintained.
Third, the PND calls for legalizing drugs—one of the real Achilles’ Heels of AMLO’s policy and outlook of key elements of his cabinet, which EIR called out even before he took office in December 2018. His argument is not limited to marijuana, but in fact talks about all drugs.
“With regard to narcotics, the prohibitionist strategy is now unsustainable, not only because of the violence which it has generated but because of its bad results in terms of public health.... The ‘war on drugs’ has worsened the public health problem.... The alternative is for the State to reject the intention of fighting addictions through the prohibition of substances which generate them.... The only real possibility of reducing the levels of drug consumption lies in lifting the prohibition of those that are currently illegal and reorienting the resources now used tofight their trafficking to use in massive and personalized programs of reinsertion and detoxification. That should be achieved in a negotiated manner both in the bilateral relationship with the U.S. as well as in the multilateral area, within the UN.”
Since it is the large City of London and Wall Street banks that run the drug trade from the top, and which are also the leading promoters of drug legalization, using spokesmen such as the despicable George Soros, AMLO’s approach is a losing strategy, and dangerously so.