In solidarity with José Sarukhán
The preposterous is everywhere. Some indulge their preferences rather than embrace the reality. As happened to Kafka in the village of Zürau, where he wrote about the teeming mice in his sanatorium’s surroundings. He speculated on the urgency of attracting a cat that would free him from the mice, but that created a new circumstance: Who would free him from the cat? Kafka’s absurdities are indistinguishable from those of AMLO’s Fourth Transformation (4T) and, above all, from those of his followers.
All of us Mexicans would like live in the perfect world, but no one seems willing to build it, because that would imply abandoning not only privileges, but above all the visions, when not the entelechies, of those who today are the essence of the status quo. AMLO’s daily narratives obscure the obvious: the narrative -and the preferences, above all ideological- are more prominent than the tangible reality and not only that of the Mexican in the street. The present is perceived, by both Tyrians and Trojans, as unsustainable. Hence it would be indispensable to understand where we are to know not what is desirable, but what is possible.
In the fiction of the morning narratives, the changes undertaken since 1982 comprised the product of a dogmatic zeal that altered -if not destroyed- the course of the nation. Everything was going well until the treacherous neoliberals came into power. (Near) hyperinflation, the dislocation of families and patrimonies never appear in the 4T narrative.
At the beginning of the seventies, the country experienced a radical change in the management of the economy. For two decades, the country had lived through a virtuous cycle of economic growth under iron-fisted political control. But both had begun to take on water. The grain exports, key for financing the importation of industrial goods, had started to decline from the mid-seventies. For its part, the 1968 Student Movement had evidenced the limits of PRI authoritarianism.
The solution advanced by the two heroes who inspire the President -Echeverría and López Portillo- was magic: public expenditure to satisfy one and all. The government can finance poor and rich, supporters and dissidents. Subsidies far and wide. Except that the solution was not to be so: the government ended up practically bankrupt in 1982 and every vestige of civility and confidence had been wiped out. Those presidents were incapable of understanding the forces to which the Mexican economy was subjected and, in a broader sense, the country in its integrity.
The world changed in accelerated fashion, but Mexico encysted itself in its natural refuge. Better to hide its head in the sand albatross-style than face the circumstances determining the fate of the country. Like today.
The so-called 4T project is sustained on a fallacy: the notion of the technocrats, the disparagingly denominated “neoliberals,” carried out a series of reforms on the economy of the country because it dictated to them their ideology or pure-and- simple corruption. The reality is simpler still: the country was adrift; the government was insolvent and the only way for it to recover its capacity -or possibility- of economic growth was by modifying the country’s economic structures.
While Mexico reveled in the lust for oil of the seventies -the era when today’s president was leader of the PRI in Tabasco State- the world was transformed. Instead of closed and protected economies, the planet, in industrial terms, came to be globalized, communications were revolutionized and expectations rocketed. Little by little, added value moved toward the processes of high intellectual content -software, brands, innovation, services, creativity, distribution- above manual labor.
Those functionaries, today reviled, devoted themselves to transforming the foundations of the development of the country -communications, infrastructure, energy, education, health- with the purpose of financing a sustainable platform for the future. Evidently there were errors, corruptive practices and abuses, but the objective was clear: to place Mexico in the proximity of the opportunities for development that were possible, and feasible, in addition to inevitable, in the XXI century.
At the end of four years of the 4T Mexicans find themselves facing the dilemma of always: how to achieve development. Except that today, they are in suboptimal conditions for achieving it. The destruction of institutions that the president has promoted entails consequences. The same is true concerning the dislocation that the public budget has endured: today everything is directed toward promoting presidential popularity and nothing toward the development of the country. The next president will find himself or herself before an ill-starred panorama, with few opportunities to correct course.
The 4T acolytes swear and perjure -and insult- but they come unequipped with arguments to counteract the devastation taking place. Today fear, uncertainty and alienation reign. Popularity, the fruit of a fictitious narrative, points in one, but the quotidian reality points in the opposite direction. Sooner or later the convergence of these will inevitably and inexorably point downward.
Nothing is written in stone about 2024, except the fiscal, moral and political bankruptcy brandished by the current government. This now begs the question of what or who offers a way out that is compatible with the world’s reality, not with the fantasies that the government weaves.