The evidence shows that the project is about power, not well-being or development. In this context, the crisis certainly fits like a glove, as the President recently stated. It means, as confirmed by Rahm Emanuel, then Obama’s political adviser, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And by that I mean that it is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not before.” In the Marxist terms utilized by many Morena party members, the objective is to deepen the contradictions in order to change the reality.
In effect, the President was elected to change the reality: his electoral platform proposed to confront poverty, corruption, inequality, and the lack of accelerated growth. If anything has distinguished the President during the past year and a half it is his being consistent in his promises and in advancing his agenda on each of those fronts. The key question with respect to AMLO does not lie in his objectives, which are public and transparent, but rather in the strategies he espouses to achieve them. In plain terms, no one can be against those objectives, but what seems evident is that he is not advancing toward their resolution; instead, he is concentrating his power on all fronts, as if that would suffice for procuring his objectives.
The notion that the concentration of power resolves the country’s problems derives from a partial and insufficient reading of what occurred in the era of stabilizing development, above all in the sixties and at the beginning of the seventies. The dates matter because the results were contrasting: between the forties and the onset of the seventies the country enjoyed a situation of exceptional economic growth and political stability, a perfect combination that resulted from a political and economic model that maintained coherence between them but that, in the sixties, began to reach its limit. In the seventies there was an attempt to prolong a model that no longer possessed economic or political viability through growing indebtedness, which led to the debt crisis in 1982 and the terrible recession of that decade.
The main point is that there was a model that worked, a model whose characteristics included a strong presidency, the product of concrete economic and political strategies. The strong presidency was the consequence of a model, not the model itself. In addition, that model responded to an historical moment of Mexico and of the world that no longer exists. In this respect, attempting to recreate the presidency to resolve 21st-century problems is, as Marx would have said, a farce.
The latter has not impeded the construction of a strong presidency and a government focused on control from proceeding rapidly and without pause, as illustrated by the attempt to eliminate any constitutional control in decision making of the public expenditure or the recent steal of electric rights. However, the fallacy behind that project is its not being susceptible to making headway toward the achievement of the objectives put forth by the President: clearly, corruption has not diminished (as always in Mexico’s political system, the corrupt are those of the government-in-progress, but there the corruption remains); poverty does not diminish with the increase of government transfers (but a client base is strengthened that has nothing to do with poverty); and, it is clear, inequality does not diminish. In terms of growth, there is no need to say anything further.
The evidence reveals that the true project is not development but control: not only is everything pinpointed in that direction, but there is not even any pretense of building the type of a steering-role capacity (“rectoría del Estado”) that characterized the stabilizing development era. However, the objective of control is accompanied by the neutralization not only of the (supposed) counterweights to presidential power, but also by the elimination of all of the success factors typifying the period that the President calls “neoliberal.” This implies that the objective is not exclusively to restore an era of Mexico’s past, but to destroy the mainstays that do allow some things to function (actually, many of them very well, such as the manufacturing plant for export, now at risk). This would follow the Trotsky maxim that “the worse things go, the better.”
What is peculiar about the current moment is that the President forges ahead within the legislative milieu nearly without restriction, but the results are, despite of that, pyrrhic. His control of the House of Representatives through Morena is indisputable and, for bills not requiring a qualified majority, he possesses similar control of the Senate. Nonetheless, although Morena is a tool of the President, it does not constitute social representation with ample presence in the society. Its legislative strength is overwhelming, which permits the President to manipulate and deploy the party at will, but it does not have the capacity to mobilize or control the society.
The President has converted the crisis of the pandemic into an opportunity to press onward with his project of control, but it is, nonetheless, not advancing: the society has increasingly acquired greater presence and relevance. In a word: this is the time and this is the opportunity for society to seize the role corresponding to it, to sever itself from the universe of fake news and prevailing corruption to build a platform of solid future development. Crises are opportunities for everyone.