Obrador and the leaderships of Latin American progressivism – 11/09/2021 – Latinoamérica21

Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s victory in 2018 was a breather for the left in Latin America; his victory filled the void left by the leaders of Latin American progressivism. However, the Mexican president devoted the first three years of his administration almost exclusively to domestic politics, and it was only in the middle of this year that he decided to take a step forward in the region.

Since the 2006 election campaign, attempts have been made in Mexico to link López Obrador to 21st century socialism. But I believe there is no proximity to rose tide governments; in addition, Obrador himself distances himself from the Latin American left leaders and only recognizes Fidel Castro.

Criticism of progressive leaders

In his latest book, “A la mitad del camino”, published in September 2021, the Mexican chief executive discusses the controversial bilateral relationship with Donald Trump and the mission that rescued former president Evo Morales. In this section of the second chapter, “El respecto al derecho ajeno es la paz” (Respect for the rights of others is peace), López Obrador criticizes progressive leaders.

Among other things, he recognizes the government of Evo Morales, but indicates that the leaders of the “Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS) made mistakes, as they should not have insisted on re-election so often; a leader must not, under any circumstances, profess excessive attachment to power”. And unlike what happened in Bolivia, Obrador stresses that Mexican foreign policy “is not motivated by ideologies, but by the principles of justice, equality, freedom, democracy, sovereignty and fraternity.”

AMLO also hints in the book about a certain resentment towards some left-wing Latin American leaders at that time. He points out that “when we were the opposition in Mexico, Evo’s attitude, like that of almost all left-wing leaders in Latin America, was not exactly friendly.” López Obrador recalls the distance and that when they visited different countries “they didn’t even dedicate a phone call to us, and more unpleasant and profound things. In the treatment they gave us at the time, only Commander Fidel Castro Ruz stood out for his supportive attitude “.

In his account, López Obrador considers Fidel a “giant of the region”. In contrast, he does not dedicate a single word to Lula, Mujica, Chávez, Correa or the Kirchners. He is cold, indifferent and distant from Latin American progressivism. Ideologically, the Mexican president is far from the Bolivarian revolution; his references are Benito Juárez and Lázaro Cárdenas, so that we can bring him closer to the nationalism/revolutionary of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, where he had his first political training.

The Mexican president has not visited any Latin American presidents. Pragmatically, he receives them at the National Palace or invites them to a commemorative event, from Luis Arce of Bolivia to Guillermo Lasso of Ecuador, justifying this on the basis of the constitutional principles of Mexican foreign policy.

On the other hand, for the celebration of the bicentennial of Mexico’s independence, the Cuban head of state was invited as a speaker, which provoked criticism from the press and the public for the unnecessary approximation with an authoritarian regime. It is one thing to welcome all the region’s leaders at a summit, but quite another to give Miguel Díaz-Canel a leading role, which was understood as public support for the Cuban regime.

Mexico’s repositioning in the region

Mexico’s recent rapprochement with Latin American leaders took place through Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard. In this new stage, the Mexican government is trying to build a new axis that runs from Tierra del Fuego to the Rio Bravo, promoted by the harmony between Alberto Fernández from Argentina and López Obrador. In this context, the two countries are promoting the distribution of free Covid-19 vaccines.

Ebrard reactivated the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) as an alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS), and precisely in the last summit, López Obrador tried to assume the leadership of Latin America with contrasting results.

The second stage of the administration of Obrador is an unknown. It is still difficult to read whether he is really looking to establish himself as a Latin American leader or whether he will give way to another president. In this sense, the next electoral cycle may also have influence, as new leftist leaders in Chile, Colombia and Brazil could be added until 2022, starting another progressive cycle in Latin America.

In conclusion, we can emphasize that the president of Mexico has clearly distanced himself from the left wing leaders of the pink tide and that in this new stage his intention to lead the region is uncertain. The question is whether he really has a Latin American vocation or whether his objective is to seek returns in Mexican domestic politics.

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