Edition:
United States

.Andres Martinez

COLUMN-Commentary: The power of Mexico’s populist president

Dec 04 2018

Dec 4 If you really want to understand contemporary Mexico, skip “Narcos” and watch the series “Un Extraño Enemigo” instead. The drama about the horrifying crackdown on the student movement on the eve of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics captures the essence of one-party authoritarianism under the long-ruling PRI, the Institutional Revolutionary Party. Its characters are the commander of internal security forces, student protest leaders, the slithery CIA station chief, then-president Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, and the cabinet members jockeying to succeed him. But at heart, the protagonist of “Enemigo” is the unvarnished, omnipotent power radiating from the presidency. “Enemigo” may seem like an odd introduction to the era of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (known as AMLO), the populist Mexican president sworn into office on Saturday to succeed PRI president Enrique Peña Nieto. AMLO says he is assuming power to represent Mexico’s powerless, the millions left behind by the nation’s fitful modernization. And one of the central paradoxes of populism, even in its well-intentioned version, is that it takes an awful lot of power and force to vindicate the interests of the powerless against entrenched elites. AMLO is determined to reconstitute the awesome power of the presidency, not to crack down on the disaffected left as Díaz Ordaz did, but to champion it.

Commentary: The power and the glory of Mexico’s populist president

Dec 04 2018

If you really want to understand contemporary Mexico, skip “Narcos” and watch the series “Un Extraño Enemigo” instead. The drama about the horrifying crackdown on the student movement on the eve of the 1968 Mexico City Olympics captures the essence of one-party authoritarianism under the long-ruling PRI, the Institutional Revolutionary Party. Its characters are the commander of internal security forces, student protest leaders, the slithery CIA station chief, then-president Gustavo Díaz Ordaz, and the cabinet members jockeying to succeed him. But at heart, the protagonist of “Enemigo” is the unvarnished, omnipotent power radiating from the presidency.

Commentary: What Trump’s new trade pact signals about China

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After losing the 2006 Mexican election by the narrowest of margins, Andrés Manuel López Obrador refused to accept the results. He called for mass protests, organized his own “swearing-in” ceremony, and went around the country calling himself the “legitimate president” of Mexico. His years-long tantrum probably cost him the following election, in 2012, which he lost by a wider margin.

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You could have made a successful career in American politics warning, or promising, that the Latino vote is about to become the deciding factor in presidential elections. For decades.

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