It has always seemed to me a simplistic notion that everything the president does is reduced to implementing the principles of the São Paulo Forum, a space in which today’s President appears not to have had physical presence nor direct participation. Although there could be similarities between the Forum’s proposals and some policies that President López Obrador has undertaken, his most basic characteristic in the exercise of power has been the consistency between his actions and his declarations, all written in his books prior to his assuming the Presidency of Mexico.
The documents published by the São Paulo Forum reveal a very clear ideological profile, but its action proposals are much vaguer than commonly thought. Born of the initiative of then-President Lula of Brazil and supported by Fidel Castro, the Forum includes the entire gamma of Ibero-American Leftist parties, from reformists to revolutionaries. Their declarations tend to be very specific with respect to the particular circumstances of concrete nations and very general concerning the rest.
Of course, there is not the least doubt of the political ideology and objectives of the Organization’s members, which include work stoppages, strikes, proposals for the nationalization of private enterprises, rejection of “imported economic models” and support for the region’s Leftist governments. Their statements are so broad and generous that they easily lend themselves to all the conspiracies that are attributed to the Forum, beginning with seeking to overthrow governments not to their liking.
Many of the diverse components of the Morena Party are undoubtedly sympathizers of the Forum and the attendance of many of its personalities at its meetings strengthens the image that the Party appropriates them as its own. It is very possible that the latter is true, but it is not obvious that this in fact is a relevant source of the ideas or propositions ventured upon by President López Obrador. The President’s objectives and strategies can be delighted in or reviled, but they are always predictable because they comprise fixed concepts, mired in the sixties and published beforehand. While many of his ideas are not benign or viable and are in many cases perversely destructive, the President certainly does not engage in conspiratorial thoughts, except when thinking about those he sees as enemies.
More than following others’ visions, the President is motivated by very explainable tenets in his biography and that, at least in economic matters, Carlos Camacho Alfaro, in his “Seminario Político,” expresses with great coherence: “In Mexico a New Mexican Revolution is being carried out; the President of the Republic has been very explicit and specific in affirming this. It is about liquidating the Neoliberal Regime. As the Mexican Revolution liquidated the Porfirio Diaz legacy and its economic base of landowners, the Fourth Transformation (IV-T) is liquidating the social and political bases of the Neoliberal State. In its place, this new revolution will be nationalistic, popular and humanist, with “novel spiritual bases”, the National Regeneration. This is a strategy, and it is being applied within the context of the great crisis caused by the CoVid-19 Pandemic.”
The project is to regenerate what, in the mind of the President, worked before the treacherous technocrats arrived to change everything with their loathsome reforms. Formerly, as the President recalled in his Inaugural Address, during the era of stabilizing development, the country enjoyed high rates of growth, of order and there was no violence. As did his predecessor (who in political conception was not very different), the President has devoted himself to attempting to recharge what appeared to him as having been relevant during that period, especially his view of a presidency that centralizes power and imposes its will, particularly in economic affairs. There is a vivid political and vindictive element (submit the so called “mafia ofpower”) and an intense flavor of nostalgia: to recreate the idyllic time of his youth when Pemex gave away money in the state of Tabasco and everyone lived (from the government purse) well.
Instead of a government plan, this involves a fantasy that calls up many of Luis Spota’s novels, describing the vagaries of Mexican presidents in an ambience of excessive power. But this is not a novel: it is a conception of the government, of the time and of the world that is not real, and, above all, not in the now. But most noteworthy is that, despite employing rhetorical resources that pretend to be grandiose, such as the president’s Fourth Transformation being made equal to those attributed to Juárez and Madero, his vision is less of grandeur than of a provincial understanding of a country without possibilities or a future, where the owner can have his way without limit or counterweight.
Mexico is not a small town lost in space. It is, rather, a great manufacturing and export power, something only possible because of the quality of its citizenry. Notwithstanding its being evident that Mexico has enormous lacks -education, insecurity, a bad health system, corruption, poverty, and regional inequality-the greatest of these is its government. The Mexican government, in the broadest sense of the word, is incompetent, bureaucratic, abusive and, more than anything else, ineffective. The great transformation would be to build one that functions and not to end the government’s term with yet more a failed one than it already is.