The Morena party government got what it wanted. The United States said that not only will it continue to fund civil organizations that work against corruption, but that it will act against governments like Mexico’s that tolerate organized crime. And without saying so explicitly, the U.S. slipped in a reference to the authoritarian leaders who undermine democracy.
Mexico’s president broke diplomatic protocol by accusing Joe Biden of promoting a coup d’état from his embassy by funding the organization Mexicans Against Corruption and others. The Mexican senate invited Vice President Kamala Harris to hold a meeting in the same setting where Morena-aligned Congressman Fernandez Norona directly accused the U.S. of promoting the coup d’état. As I have written earlier, these are strong words, which should not be spoken lightly by a true head of state.
Biden and Harris should know that Mexicans will defend our democracy with the vote and with the law, which has caused a lot of pain and sacrifice for people from both the left and right. If there is one thing that is true about this government, it is the fact that it is not leftist. And it also understands that it cannot overthrow democracy or violate the rule of law as authoritarian leaders do, without international consequences. We are not an island.
For now, we must accept what we have. But if what we are seeking is a call for national unity around Lopez Obrador, the answer must be no. We must find unity centered on democracy and institutions, nothing else.
Having said that, elections raise a complex series of contradictions to which we pay little attention. One of them is that for citizens, voting is not a civic holiday, but a burden. This is due to the great distance between the act of voting, and its meaning and effect; that is, candidates and governments end up producing public policies that are rarely related to campaign promises. Voters end up feeling cheated by those they vote for, especially because there is no way to hold them accountable, other than the next election.
The characteristics of the Mexican voter explain why, in recent weeks, the ruling party has developed a strategy to encourage voters to abstain. There were instances of impressive voter turnout, but they were more related to weariness and anger than to the need to give direction to their communities.
This is how the ultra-right in Europe and the populists in the United States, Brazil and Mexico reemerged. As a result, such cathartic votes come at the cost of human rights and freedom for the middle class and for the pueblo. Under Donald Trump, the poor remained poor and the wealthy kept their advantages. In Mexico, the number of people living in poverty remained the same, but extreme poverty increased.
In addition to the mismanagement of public finances, there was no increase in taxes and an imbalance in spending due to cash handouts, which resemble welfare and are regressive. Then came COVID-19, which impacted regional economies, and which, according to the Inter-American Development Bank, registered a contraction of around 7.5% and 9%.
Mexico, for ideological reasons, did not support small and medium-sized companies, causing 1 million of them to go bankrupt and leaving 2.5 million people unemployed. It will be 2025 before we recover.
This Sunday we will regain our dignity by voting. We will or will not endorse the violation of human rights, especially of women, the impunity of organized crime and the attack on the rule of law.
It depends on all of us.