Costs and Consequences

Luis Rubio

The democratization that the country has undergone over the last decades brought with it unanticipated consequences to deal with because the alternative is absolutely unacceptable. Whosoever wins an election feels free to advance their agenda not only disavowing the opposition, but, as occurs today, branding it as the enemy. Instead of a democracy, Mexicans have built, or reproduced for the XXI century, the famous phrase of Cosío Villegas: a six-year monarchy. Rather than employing politics to build a common future, a requisite interdependence, all critical and dissident thought are excluded. Those are the ways of a dictatorship and, when that happens, the political belonging or the person in charge is no longer important: what matters is the reality.

Many of the excesses of the present government, above all its manner of destroying institutions and obligating their legislative contingents to follow instructions, as if they were mere hired hands, are doubtlessly a visceral reaction to the excesses –in form or in substance- of former administrations. But the fact that a president can engage in excesses evidences the enormous fragility of our system of government, the pandemic accomplishing nothing other than magnifying this fragility.  Elaborating or modifying laws in a democracy is the elemental function of the government’s legislative branch that, in the separation of powers, constitutes an equal power and a counterweight. However, as Santiago Kovadloff says of Argentina, “we modify the Constitution much more than we comply with it.” In Mexico it is the president who presides over, legislates, executes and violates the Constitution, claiming that he is governing, when in reality he instructs and subjugates.

In nations in which the word is unique, an imposition, its reversion is similarly swift. What the president is doing with the economic reforms and with the institutions, trust funds, and organisms arising from prior executive and legislative actions cannot be explained as anything more than a revengeful and belated spirit deriving from the negation of time and from the change in circumstances.

Without doubt, what has made it possible to dismantle the administrative, political and regulatory structures lies in the trifling legitimacy that they enjoyed; but on acting in the same way –in fact, much more arbitrarily because here not even the forms are looked after- the President is sowing the seeds of the next counterattack. In place of building and governing, the population, which he treats as subjects, will end up seeing and thinking of the present government as it came to pass with all of the bygone ones. No one, not even AMLO, can challenge the law of gravity.

One could ask how is it possible for the President to possess such great power as to carry out his centralization program without any counterforce. The response is very simple: Mexico remains a pre democratic nation in which the members of his party in the legislative branch are disposed to yield to the President, and he continues to make them function in that fashion, shamelessly. Instead of representing the entire population, they respond to their boss, in typical pre democratic style.

The key question is what will these same legislators and judges do when the errors and privations catch up with President and they demand answers to the daily problems, those the pandemic accumulates at a speed superior to the growth of the number of deaths. If there is one constant that Mexican politics possesses it is that the king is king while he is there, but the moment that changes all hell breaks loose. There is not a sole president in this era who has not gone through that ringer, although some have gotten away better than others. Stirring up that vindictive fervor only increases the chances of it.

The other constant is the infinite incapacity to recognize what was previously achieved and to build on it. The past was always bad and has to be modified because the new owners are always more intelligent and competent than those of before.  The arrogance is so great that it blinds everyone, beginning with the most ambitious: a country of more than one hundred twenty million inhabitants is bossed around as if it were a small village in the middle of Tabasco. The problem is that, despite the mistakes and corruption, Mexico is one of the principal nations of the world and the citizenry, while belittled, has the right, and aspirations, to improve and go forward. In the long run, it always gets it what it wants. Information will continue to pour out even if the president closes all of the media.

However, the panorama ahead is not promising. Denying the number of deaths, the depth of the recession or the number of unemployed (the real number, not only those recorded by the Social Security Institute) does nothing other than contribute to the deepening and lengthening of two simultaneous crises: the health crisis and the economic one. The government ignores the citizenry, but the latter cannot ignore its reality, that which is hit directly in its income and in its possibilities of surviving.

It is urgent to review the content of Mexican democracy in order to re-engineer the form of governing. The absence of a process of reform of the political system is what has caused the subordination of the legislative branch, the dysfunctionality of the so-called federal pact and the excessive attributions -real and nominal- of this presidency. The alternative is not of an attractive color.
a quick-translation of this article can be found at