By Azam Ahmed and Paulina Villegas
July 1, 2018
MEXICO CITY — Riding a wave of populist anger fueled by rampant corruption and violence, the leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected president of Mexico on Sunday, in a landslide victory that upended the nation’s political establishment and handed him a sweeping mandate to reshape the country.
Mr. López Obrador’s victory puts a leftist leader at the helm of Latin America’s second-largest economy for the first time in decades, a prospect that has filled millions of Mexicans with hope — and the nation’s elites with trepidation.
The outcome represents a clear rejection of the status quo in the nation, which for the last quarter century has been defined by a centrist vision and an embrace of globalization that many Mexicans feel has not served them.
Mr. López Obrador has promised “a change of regime.” Mexican voters should carefully consider what he means, given the precedents.
To begin with, he has said that he does not believe in the existence of Mexican democracy, though it has been in the context of its rules, institutions and freedoms that he has gained the likelihood of power. Nor does he trust in the National Electoral Institute. After losing the 2006 election by a wafer-thin margin (0.62 percent), he declared the election fraudulent and led his followers in occupying the Paseo de la Reforma, the central artery of Mexico City, an action rejected by the public. Defeated by a larger margin (6.63 percent) in 2012, he again claimed fraud. He has continued to show disdain for the institutions of liberal democracy. “To hell with their institutions,” he famously said in 2006 and has not disavowed his assertion. And he recently accused the Supreme Court of being an instrument of the oligarchy used to dominate the people.
There is a genuine linkage of religious fervor (which it seems just to call messianic) between Mr. López Obrador and his followers. Confident in that connection, he has shown an unbending intolerance toward criticism from the media and intellectuals. He has a disqualifying adjective for every group that doubts or opposes him: “fakes,” “conservatives,” “sellouts.” He has called the press “fifí” (bourgeois). He has proved to be incapable of self-criticism and shows a significant tendency to divide the country between “the people” who support him and all the others, who support “the mafia in power.”
President Trump rescinded Mr. Obama’s DACA policy. He has proposed a four-pillar overhaul of American immigration policy that most Democrats and Latinos in the United States detest. Strangely enough, however, it might benefit Mexico, especially if it is accompanied by additional changes in the issuance of temporary-worker visas, and in particular those known as H-2A and H-2B.
The first pillar of Mr. Trump’s proposal — regularizing the status of the Dreamers and a million other young people who also could qualify for DACA status with a long and winding road to citizenship — works to Mexico’s advantage. Somewhere near 1.5 million of these young people are Mexican; that is roughly one-quarter of all undocumented Mexican citizens in the United States. Granting them the equivalent of amnesty, with the beacon of eventual citizenship, satisfies one of Mexico’s most crucial immigration demands.
But immigration patterns may also change independently of what Mr. Trump does. Mexican migration was decreasing even before Mr. Trump kicked off his campaign. The Pew Research Center estimated last April that the number of undocumented Mexicans living in the United States had dropped from 6.4 million in 2009 to 5.6 million in 2016.
Several factors, including changing demographics in Mexico, may have combined to cause this drop. The average number of children per family here has been decreasing sharply, which means there are fewer people in the work force and less pressure on parents to provide.
While the electrician, Mr. González, was one of eight siblings, he has only one child himself. He makes 250 pesos, or about $13, a day in Mexico, less than the $17 hourly wage he made painting houses on Long Island. But as we stare at the towering Popo volcano, he says he has no plans to return north. “I am my own boss here, I want to build my business,” he told me. “And this is a beautiful place to be.”
Ioan Grillo (@ioangrillo) is the author of “Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields and the New Politics of Latin America” and a contributing opinion writer.
Ioan is Welsh and Rumanian version of Jobn, pronouced Yo-Anh.
“In 2011, PKC, a Finnish auto parts company in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila, thwarted its employees’ efforts to choose their own union to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement. The company interfered with a union election and terminated employee labor activists. BMW pledged in July 2014 to spend $1 billion to build a factory in the northern state of San Luis Potosí days after signing a protection contract with the Confederation of Workers of Mexico notarized by a Labor Ministry official. They will be paid slightly over a dollar an hour and wages will top out at $2.50. To this day workers at both plants continue to be denied the right to freely negotiate with automakers.
These common abuses have had a lasting economic impact as companies move from Canada and the United States to take advantage of workers who lack basic rights and are underpaid. Mexico has yet to develop a free and democratic trade union movement, and that’s at the heart of the problem.”
Too bad this op-ed chooses not to allow comments. These guys have not convinced me. According to them, everyone else is to blame, but not the American Auto Workers Union. It appears that they were unable or uninterested in finding a Mexican to co-author this piece. Too bad. They write everything is Mexico’s fault. They ignore that the Mexican’s tough attitude towards their workers is also part of the reason they are taking away billions of dollars a year of our auto work.
They ignore the argument of some famous economists, that Nafta was not responsible for this massive transfer of jobs. These economists point to the fact that the workers of Mexico are much poorer, but still educated, and willing to work much harder than their American counter parts.
They left out, that Mexico probably has looser environmental protections, which if corrected, would be good for the environment, and help level the playing field a little.
“LOS ANGELES — The environmental ministers of Canada and Mexico went to San Francisco last month to sign a global pact — drafted largely by California — to lower planet-warming greenhouse pollution. Gov. Jerry Brown flies to China next month to meet with climate leaders there on a campaign to curb global warming. And a battery of state lawyers is preparing to battle any attempt by Washington to weaken California’s automobile pollution emission standards.
As President Trump moves to reverse the Obama administration’s policies on climate change, California is emerging as the nation’s de facto negotiator with the world on the environment. The state is pushing back on everything from White House efforts to roll back pollution rules on tailpipes and smokestacks, to plans to withdraw or weaken the United States’ commitments under the Paris climate change accord.”
“More heat and drought mean more evaporation and yet more demand for water, adding pressure to tap distant reservoirs at staggering costs or further drain underground aquifers and hasten the city’s collapse.In the immense neighborhood of Iztapalapa — where nearly two million people live, many of them unable to count on water from their taps — a teenager was swallowed up where a crack in the brittle ground split open a street. Sidewalks resemble broken china, and 15 elementary schools have crumbled or caved in.”
“That’s what this series is about — how global cities tackle climate threats, or fail to. Around the world, extreme weather and water scarcity are accelerating repression, regional conflicts and violence. A Columbia University report found that where rainfall declines, “the risk of a low-level conflict escalating to a full-scale civil war approximately doubles the following year.” The Pentagon’s term for climate change is “threat multiplier.”
And nowhere does this apply more obviously than in cities. This is the first urban century in human history, the first time more people live in cities than don’t, with predictions that three-quarters of the global population will be urban by 2050. By that time, according to another study, there may be more than 700 million climate refugees on the move.”
The whole city occupies what was once a network of lakes. In 1325, the Aztecs established their capital, Tenochtitlán, on an island. Over time, they expanded the city with landfill and planted crops on floating gardens called chinampas, plots of arable soil created from wattle and sediment. The lakes provided the Aztecs with a line of defense, the chinampas with sustenance. The idea: Live with nature.
Then the conquering Spaniards waged war against water, determined to subdue it. The Aztec system was foreign to them. They replaced the dikes and canals with streets and squares. They drained the lakes and cleared forestland, suffering flood after flood, including one that drowned the city for five straight years.
“The Aztecs managed,” Ms. Castro said. “But they had 300,000 people. We now have 21 million.” “
Great article. Thank you Michael Kimmelman and Josh Haner.
I’d like to produce a movie about the Spaniards ruining what the Aztec’s had built.
As several people said at the Women’s March in Washington, “It is time for us all to join Planned Parenthood.”
The real culprit is population growth. The earth just went from 1 to 7.5 billion humans in the last 100 years, and is scheduled to go to 13 billion in the next century or so. The graphs of population growth and carbon dioxide increase are almost identical.
The sea levels will rise, there will be billions of climate change refugees, and the wars and massacres will reduce our numbers, as in the past, exacerbated by the decline in water and food. Like a giant algae bloom, the explosive growth of the human population might cause the extermination of our species, and is already causing or will cause the extermination of thousands of others species. Everyday, I wonder, why is population growth still a mostly taboo subject for world leaders and the press? Why was it left out of this article?
Of course I do not agree with everything Gemli writes in this comment, but it gave me some laughs:
“The president is crazy and Congress is malevolent. The vice president is a well-groomed evangelical mannequin and the president’s chief strategist is a crypto-clansman in a flak jacket. The cabinet is crammed full of incompetents and destroyers. Australia is our enemy and Russia is our friend.
All of this happened when Democrats closed their eyes for a few minutes, trying to get some rest from the cacophony of a weird campaign, certain beyond doubt that nobody in their right mind would vote for a blithering crotch-groping ignoramus who mocked the disabled.
We won’t let it happen again, but the damage has been done. Folks from the fly-over nation made pouty-faces and marched to the polls, fed up with affordable medical care, sick to death of rational and compassionate leadership, frustrated with the intelligentsia and willing to give the ignoratti a go.
They decided that the country should be run like a business. It makes perfect sense, until you realize that the country is not a business. It’s a whole lot of people who depend on competent leaders to protect them, and to give them the opportunity to grow and flourish. Instead, we hired a megalomaniac with a screw loose.
Let’s not pretend that the voters who put this moronic man in the Oval Office deserve our respect. They deserve ridicule. They deserve to be shortchanged and abused by the man they voted for. It gives me a measure of peace to know they will suffer under the lash of an idiot they elected.”
“MEXICO CITY — It has been just over a week since President Trump took office, and he already has a diplomatic mini-crisis on his hands. First, he demanded that Mexico pay for his wall along our mutual border — on the very day when Mexican diplomats were to meet with White House officials. When President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico rejected that idea out of hand, Mr. Trump tweeted that he should consider calling off a planned visit to Washington next Tuesday. Which is just what Mr. Peña Nieto did.
For Mexico, the cancellation, and the rise in tensions with the United States, are a sad and serious affair.
Sad, because no Mexican wants a breakdown in bilateral ties. Five successive presidents have pursued a new course with our northern neighbor, putting behind us the apprehensions and resentment of the past. The North American Free Trade Agreement, American support during the mid-’90s financial crisis, immigration negotiations in 2001, expanded drug enforcement and security cooperation, and the encouragement of a new mind-set for Mexicans where being neighbors is no longer seen as a problem but as an opportunity: All of this is being questioned and jeopardized.”
“Less than a week into the job, President Trump on Thursday raised the specter of a trade war with America’s third-largest partner, Mexico, as the White House warned that the United States could impose a 20 percent tariff on Mexican imports.”
Great editorial. Good comments. What I like about this comment below, is the focus on the environmental damage the wall will have. It might well cause specie extinctions. The call for impeachment is a bit premature, since the congress is in the hands of Republicans. They get to decide about impeachment. First, the congress will try to reign in Trump through their control of the Federal purse.
“All good points, but don’t forget, the wall is absolutely worthless. Ladders, tunnels, boats and planes can all bypass it with ease. A large part of the illegal immigrants in the U.S. come in legally and just overstay their visas.
What the wall would do is render all nearby migratory life extinct, fail to cover the Rio Grande (does Trump even know about the Rio Grande?), and provide a continuous expense in perpetuity for no good reason. It would also stand as a monument to fascism, isolationism, racism, and lies.
So Trump’s moronic idea of getting Americans to pay for this with a tariff would have no positive results at all.
It is clear from this first six days in office that America will not get through even one year of Trump management without our economy being destroyed, our reputation in the world being crushed, millions of jobs evaporating, and hope for average Americans dwindling.
We have to impeach this fool. No matter what, if we don’t impeach him, the fall of America will be historically pinpointed as 11/8/16.”