Mexico’s president under attack from neoliberals at home and in U.S.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel, right, and Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador speak after signing bilateral agreements at Revolution Palace in Havana, Cuba, May 8, 2022. Díaz-Canel has been awarded Mexico's highest medal when he visits the southern Mexican city of Campeche on Feb. 11, 2023, according to the Mexican government's official gazette. | Yamil Lage/AP

Mexico’s ruling class is up against the ropes, and they’re resorting to some desperate tactics. Recently, they held a multi-party protest featuring a white woman, the mother of the main opposition leader Claudio X. Gonzales (formerly an employee of the U.S. corporation Kimberly Clark in Mexico), called the supporters of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador “pata rajadas.”

The derogatory term, meaning “uncivilized,” has been used since Spanish colonial times to describe Indigenous people.  Now, many activists and YouTubers in Mexico proudly call themselves “pata rajada.” Gonzalez is the conservative leader of the opposition in Mexico and a member of Mexico’s ruling class whose various organizations receive funding from the U.S. Embassy via the National Endowment for Democracy and USAID, both U.S. government-financed outfits often used for regime change.

As for López Obrador, or AMLO, as he is called for short, he was elected with a mandate for change by 30 million voters, the largest vote count in Mexico’s history. He led a winning left political coalition called Together We Make History, and he heads the political party MORENA (Movimiento Regeneración Nacional) or National Regeneration Movement Movement). Morena also just happens to mean brown-skinned.

This coalition describes itself as anti-neoliberal, seeking real democracy for Mexico. Discrimination on the basis of class and skin color is still prevalent in Mexico, where the ruling class is predominately of European descent. The Indigenous people are brown skinned and generally kept poor.

Tired of the ruling class

The people of Mexico were tired of the existing ruling class and its political parties. These political parties are thoroughly corrupt, spent decades stealing elections, and colluded with drug cartels. The recent trial and guilty verdicts against opposition leaders show the depth of corruption of the Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party, PAN) and its two Panista presidents, Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón.

The U.S. ruling class is eager to help out its Mexican counterparts. It wants to associate the current government of AMLO with the failed narco states of the past, but there is no such collusion now. Mexico is working hard every day to improve its security and give its young people an alternative to delinquency through jobs and scholarships. But none of that has stopped the ruling class media to go on the offensive against Mexico’s government.

In an article by conservative David Frum published by The Atlantic magazine on Feb. 21, AMLO was denounced as “the autocrat next door.” Attempting to lump him in with authoritarian leaders and dictators in other countries, Frum alleged AMLO was assaulting liberal democracy in Mexico.

The supposed assault is a set of reforms targeting a corrupt election body in Mexico known to steal elections. “Autocratic” is a term the U.S. slaps on many countries seeking independence from U.S. hegemony, including those looking for an alternative to capitalist rule. Mexico’s legislature was blocked by the united conservative opposition from instituting constitutional change, and therefore took an alternative route and passed secondary laws to reform the Instituto Nacional Electoral (National Electoral Institute, INE).

In addition, the U.S. is trying to label Mexico as a failed state (or narco state) in order to justify further interference in its internal affairs. The U.S. is very displeased that Mexico has re-nationalized its oil, electricity, and lithium.

The truth is that Mexico’s autocratic and anti-democratic days preceded the arrival of AMLO. The PAN was allowed to win presidential elections in 2000 due to external pressure for Mexico to establish a bipartisan election system, similar to that in the U.S. And like in the U.S., both of the old ruling parties, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Paraty, PRI) and the PAN, do the bidding of Mexico’s ruling class. They have been joined by a former left party which has been co-opted by the ruling class, the Partido Revolucionario Democrático (Democratic Revolutionary Party, PRD).

Mexico is now under intense attack from external imperialist forces due to the progressive policies of the AMLO government, including increasing the minimum wage by about 620%, giving all the elderly pensions, and scholarships for children, reducing the cost of government bureaucracy, and diverting the savings to helping the poor. AMLO was also able to place these benefits into Mexico’s constitution, making them permanent.

AMLO earned U.S. scorn for rescuing and giving political asylum to Evo Morales after the violent coup in Bolivia and for becoming a more vocal opponent of the U.S. blockade against Cuba. AMLO is hated by the reactionary “gusanos” like Senators Menendez, Rubio, and Cruz in the U.S.

AMLO has received Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel many times and recently decorated him with Mexico’s highest award, the Águila Azteca order. He also refused to go to the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles last year because the U.S. failed to invite Cuba and other independent countries.

The President of Mexico wants good relations with the U.S., but he also understands the U.S. has other objectives. The Biden administration has tried to twist AMLO’s arm to obtain his support for its sending of weapons into Ukraine and for its opposition to Venezuela; the effort was unsuccessful.

AMLO’s response to the “request” to “condemn the Russian invasion” was to state that Mexico condemns all invasions, including the prior invasion of Mexico by the U.S. When it comes to international diplomacy, Mexico made clear that relations between countries must be based on mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty.

Activists in the U.S. should learn from the current experience of the MORENA party in Mexico on how to create progressive political change right next door to the U.S. AMLO has stated multiple times that his job is to “revolutionize consciousness.” That is the primary job of all serious activists for change.

As with all op-eds published by People’s World, this article reflects the opinions of its author.


Álvaro Rodriguez
Álvaro Rodriguez

Álvaro Rodriguez is a long-time labor and community activist. He writes from Texas.