Elections in Mexico

Image: Israel Torres


President AMLO has been encouraging votes for Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo for four years, indicated by voting intention polls as the most likely winner in the June 2nd elections

Continuism and continuity. The presidential election in Mexico this June 2nd should confirm, as all electoral polls predict, the election of the government candidate, claudia sheinbaum. With it, they must also follow all the compensatory social policies of their predecessor, the political scientist Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has been in power since 2018.

The question is: will Claudia Sheinbaum be able – or at least try – to advance where AMLO (as Lópes Obrador is known) failed? How far is the limit of the democratic rule of law in Mexico, which AMLO seems to be losing, in addition to the fight against state corruption and international criminal organizations that traffic drugs and thousands of people to the giant neighbor, the USA, with whom Mexico has more than 3.100 km of common borders?

Claudia Sheinbaum will manage – or, at least, try – to remove the Armed Forces from the country's most menial tasks, which AMLO placed in civilian areas such as policing, the construction of highways and even oil refineries, in a strategy of militarization of life social situation that also occurs in other Latin American countries?

The continuity between AMLO and Claudia Sheinbaun appears in other characteristics – and dilemmas. She, like him, already governed the capital of Mexico City before running for president and will also have geopolitics as one of the themes of her government, if elected.

This last topic will not be an easy task. Washington returns to prioritizing Latin America after decades dedicated to fighting for Middle Eastern oil, confronting Russia politically and militarily (by proxy) and, more recently, dedicating itself to a trade war that could soon turn into confrontation war with China in Asia.

“The situation throughout Latin America today is very complicated in its relationship with the USA”, summarizes professor Ana Esther Ceceña, who at the Autonomous University of Mexico coordinates the Geopolitics Observatory. “Mexico is a territory to be recolonized with some urgency by the USA”, says the economist and co-author of books such as “The process of occupation of Latin America in the XXI century"and "Monopoly capitalism, supergroups and the Mexican economy", between others.

In the text below, she makes critical observations about the relationship between AMLO and Claudia Sheinbaun and highlights the growing political and economic influence of China, Iran and Russia in Latin America. In particular, it deals with an interconnection project between two oceans, which is being developed in Mexico and which could lead to a dispute on a global scale.

The Interoceanic Corridor that Ana Esther talks about is located on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, a narrow strip of Mexican territory, just 300 kilometers long, that separates the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic Ocean. The Corridor, under construction, will be an alternative to the Panama Canal, under administrative, political and military control of the USA, but which has had its activities extremely reduced due to changes in the planet's climate, which have altered the level and regimes of the tides in that region. region.

These changes open up space for the Corridor, in Mexico, to become viable not only as a commercial connection point between two oceans. But also, as a means of rapid access for the Russian and Chinese fleets, arriving from the Indian and Pacific Oceans, to the Gulf of Mexico – where important US interests are located – and to the Caribbean, a region that has always been considered by the US to be the first circle of its global hegemony.

Ana Esther Ceceña

President AMLO has been encouraging votes for his candidate Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo (a geoscientist and governor of the capital Mexico City between 2018 and 2023) for four years, indicated by voting intention polls as the most likely winner in the June 2 elections , and which is much more sensitive to the issue of climate change.

It benefits from AMLO's popularity, especially among the popular classes, but not only that, because AMLO also greatly favored a certain type of business community, which wants the continuity of certain very intelligent and impactful social engineering policies, especially for young people. The relationship that AMLO has been having with US businesspeople and investors, with transnational capital, is good, except in some fields, such as energy, where there is a lot of friction.

Regarding AMLO's government, it is necessary to say that it was very little, due to the hopes that people had of him building a more democratic and participatory policy. But, above all, to combat things that weighed on Mexican society, such as corruption and the real looting that previous presidents had carried out. Promises that AMLO himself had made, such as fighting corruption, returning the military to their barracks, reestablishing the rule of law and many other things that were not carried out.

In some points, progress was made in the opposite direction, as in the case of militarization. We have had a complicated situation since 2006, during the government of former President Calderón, when a militaristic escalation began against groups of drug traffickers. But, on the contrary, with López Obrador the situation got much worse, expanding the Army's responsibilities to what are actually civil issues, internal security and the construction of infrastructure and the creation of a bank to pay pensions.

Everything in the country is now mediated by the Armed Forces. But violence has increased, in addition to everything else that has to do with organized crime. Throughout the country, territorial control by criminal groups has increased and they are the ones who impose the rules of social behavior – including in current elections. These are the rules of life, politics and the limits of democracy are in the hands of de facto powers.

López Obrador's candidate promises to continue his government. In fact, a developmental idea distinct from current times. This led to the destruction of much of the environment, of the forests in southeastern Mexico, where he supported devastating projects. There has been a lot of opposition to these projects, such as the Maya train [a controversial billion-dollar railway that takes the rich to tour the territories of the poor], the interoceanic corridor and the construction of a refinery in an environmentally fragile region.

These projects, which have received a lot of objection from scientists, were handed over to the Navy and Army and declared national security projects – which they are not! On the contrary, they are being treated with criteria that are very specific to the military. These are elements that weigh heavily on the disqualification of AMLO's government, and that should weigh heavily on his successor, if she continues with them as she has already declared that she will.

Mexico's position in relation to the so-called Greater Caribbean, the Caribbean Basin, is extremely important in the management of many US policies in relation to oil, water and minerals. Then, not only the geographical position of Mexico matters, but also the possibility that Mexico's territorial waters [in the Atlantic Ocean, in the Caribbean Basin] appear as an extension of the extractive arm of the USA towards the south [of Latin America] . Mexican ports in the Pacific Ocean can also help with entry and exit towards the Asia-Pacific region. Mexico is a territory to be recolonized with some urgency by the USA.

The relationship with the USA has several rough edges and one of them is migration. The [temporary] arrests of migrants passing through Mexico on their way to the US, and accepted by our government, have turned us into a country holding migrants until the US lets them in. Meanwhile, the management of these people is the responsibility of Mexico, which is overloaded, especially in the regions where infrastructure projects [managed by the Armed Forces] are located. Migrants go there until their migration to the USA is approved or not, and this situation is explosive. There are very strong and deep conflicts [with the military], without the Mexican government having proposed solutions.

Another complicated element, although Lopez Obrador's government considers it promising, due to the geographical position of Mexico and the USA [it is 3.141 kilometers long, from the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Gulf of Mexico to the east] is the so-called nearshoring [a type of labor subcontracting with lower wages].

In other words, the investments that arrive in Mexico are intended to triangulate what arrives “dirty” here and enters the USA “clean”. Mexico is serving as an industrial yard where parts of goods that will be sent to the USA are assembled. The government says it is happy, because investments and employment levels have increased a little.

Another complicating element in this global geopolitical framework is the presence of economic groups from Asia-Pacific, including Russia, which weigh heavily on Mexico's international trade and compete with trade with the USA.

This is a bet that could complicate the US much more than the Asia-Pacific countries, which reach all US ports in the Pacific Ocean. This puts Mexico in a particular situation, as it is [the USA's] closest ally and can resolve the problem with the Interoceanic Corridor. However, this Corridor, if it largely replaces the Panama Canal, will become a strategic location that will have to be militarized, and not just by the Mexican Armed Forces, which already have enough problems with criminal groups, who are unable to to control. This situation opens up space for the US armed forces to control strategic spaces [such as the Interoceanic Corridor] in Mexican territory.

The situation in Latin America today is very complicated in its relationship with the USA, which has been busy increasing relations with Cuba and Venezuela and the countries it doesn't like in the region. There is a permanent movement of bonds that are built and broken. The region sees several interesting opportunities for relations with China, Russia and even Iran and with other countries, which see an opening of possibilities opened up by de-dollarization, complementary trade in their own currencies and without going through the dollar – the BRICS+ bank, for example.

This situation allows Latin American countries to think that they have some exit doors on routes other than the USA. One, for example, is Cuba's relationship with Russia in the field of tourism, which is very important for Cubans. There is a redesign of balances of power that is very open at the moment, which is demanding certain certainties from us and allowing us to build new routes and lines, new hopes for these countries.

*Carlos Tautz is a journalist and doctoral candidate in history at the Fluminense Federal University (UFF).

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