Look South for Trouble
AMLO has demanded a vote-by-vote recount since losing the election. Mexico's Federal Election Tribunal wisely decided Saturday that a partial recount of approximately 9% of the total vote would be a better way to go. AMLO is not happy about the partial recount and said that he will soon announce to his followers what their next step will be. With protests of up to 1 million people last week shutting down large parts of Mexico City, its anybody’s guess how far AMLO might take his protest.
If Washington State is any indication, a full recount is exactly what should not be done. Yes, a clean recount might help take fuel from the fire of AMLO and his followers. But, a full recount also invites corruption. That is something people in Washington State can appreciate. Washington State’s multiple recounts resulted in King County election officials essentially throwing the election for governor to their favored candidate, Christine Gregoire, by magically finding ballots stuffed in drawers. AMLO, the former Mayor of Mexico City, is still in control of the government apparatus of the city, and knows that he could do the same thing. The quantity of votes he needs to “find” are now known (roughly 200,000) and in a city the size of Mexico’s capital (with well over 20 million people), it would be easy for AMLO’s supporters to throw in just enough extra ballots to throw the election. This is exactly what happened in Washington State, allowing Democratic Party gangsters in the largest metropolitan area of the state to decide the state-wide election.
As King County proved, total recounts are easy to manipulate and result in more controversy, not less. Mexican election officials know this. So does the winner, Enrique Calderon. In fact, so does AMLO. The special tribunal made such trickery much harder by deciding on a recount based on random samples of the ballots. AMLO could conceivably already have his own agents among the recount process, but since samples will be taken at random from known ballot boxes all over the country, there will not be many votes found in dark corners. AMLO’s supporters simply will not know which ballot box to stuff and Mexico City’s samples cannot provide enough to overcome the difference.
All level heads, including international observers, agree that this election was clean, perhaps the cleanest in Mexico’s history. Calderon will win the recount but re-affirming his victory may not be enough to douse the flames. AMLO has shown his true colors and they hark back to old-school Mexico. Corruption. Autocracy. Psuedo and token socialism. More power in the hands of the few. The benefits of capitalism thrown out in favor of backroom deals between politicians and mega wealthy monopoly owners.
The composition of AMLO’s support reads like a who’s who of failed policies. Labor bosses. Government bureaucrats. Professional students. All manipulating the poor. As Denise Dresser says in her recent column in Mexico City’s Reforma newspaper, the 2 million odd diehard followers of AMLO are calling for:
Jailing Luis Carlose Ugalde and the officials of the Federal Election Institute. Exiling from the country members of the Business Counsel. Nationalizing Televisa and Reforma. Closing all of the Sabritas factories of the country. Closing the Mexican stock exchange and leaving Mexican companies to find other forms of capital. Demanding that Walmart end their operations in Mexico.The end result could not be good. Mexico’s long history is one of getting close, but never quite making it, to a smoothly functioning democracy and economy. One step forward, two steps back. The greed of the powerful elite, which AMLO uses to inspire his radicalized followers but with whom he would in the end do deals, always seems to send the country back.
So, why should we care? Mexico is our second largest trading partner. US companies and mutual funds have billions of dollars in investments in Mexican enterprises. More importantly, the US imports more oil from Mexico than it does even from Saudi Arabia. Labor unions, particularly government employee union bosses, are AMLO's major backers. That means Pemex, the state owned enterprise that controls every last drop of oil coming out of Mexico. In the near term, AMLO receives no benefit from oil production and sales. He could only benefit from a disruption in supply. Nary a mention of that very real possibility in the media, but the slightest blip in Mexican oil production would send oil prices through the roof.
Perhaps most importantly, we should care because AMLO provides none of the answers Mexico needs. His power base is composed of the very people that work against Mexico’s progress and inadvertently perpetuate poverty. Mexico is not poor because of capitalism, as the left would assert. Nor is it poor because of the US and evil American companies. Mexico is poor precisely because it does not have enough capitalism. It has half-way capitalism, the sort that involves two steps back for every step forward. The sort that gives unrestricted monopoly power to selected companies owned by powerful families. Telmex. Televisa. Cemex. One is found in practically every industry. They keep prices high to Mexican consumers, while lowering employment, wages, innovation and investment. Mexico transitioned from feudalism, to feudalist socialism, to feudalist capitalism. It’s long overdue for Mexico to loose the feudalism it inherited from its conquistador past.
Calderon will win the recount. He will assume the presidency and, with any luck at all (not something in long supply in Mexico), AMLO’s regressive movement will fizzle out. But, if Calderon is smart and cares about his country, he will take quick action to fundamentally change Mexico’s economy. Mexico needs a leader that looks more like Teddy Roosevelt at the height of his anti-trust crusade than Che Guevera.
The history of concentrated power is the history of Mexico. Neither that past, nor AMLO, should be it's future.
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