Andrés Manuel López Obrador, commonly referred to as AMLO from his initials, is a center-left candidate with a long record as a political reformer, an opponent of corruption, and five years as a successful head of Mexico City's government. Polls are showing him with a strong lead in Mexico's presidential race a week from this Sunday.
How the WaPo editorial board decided he has a "reactionary agenda" is hard to fathom. Especially since they also bizarrely claim he intends to implement "the catastrophic '21st-century socialism' of Venezuela." (Or, technically, strongly imply it as a live possibility.) What the Venezuela reference is supposed to mean other than "bad" and "scary" isn't clear and it makes no sense anyway.
And despite the title, AMLO has shown no tendencies for incoherent tweets, recklessly threatening war, or kidnapping small children from immigrants and sticking them in cages. The WaPo could just say they prefer a corrupt president for Mexico who will do whatever Washington and corporate lobbyists tell him to, without the strange fantasies about AMLO in this editorial.
This is a goofy piece.
On the other hand, Nathaniel Parish Flannery's piece, Mexico's 2018 Election: Populism Vs. Prudence Forbes (!!), is notably more sober:
The 2018 election will have a big impact, not just for Mexico but also for multinational companies that operate in Mexico and north of the border in the US. Companies such as GE, IBM, Ford, Citi and Wal-Mart have invested heavily in Mexico over the last twenty plus years. Mexico’s economy has grown in fits and bursts during the NAFTA era but recent governments have done little to address the longstanding woes of a deeply divided society. In the 2018 election many parts of the country citizens tired with rampant corruption, brutal inequality, and decades of sluggish growth will have to decide between trying to persevere and preserve the nascent gains from the export-focused NAFTA era or shift to re-embrace a populist model that wants to at least partially reject the export-led development model and focus on boosting local industrial and agricultural output. During the NAFTA era presidents from Mexico’s centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and right-of-center National Action Party (PAN) have embraced a corrupt form of neoliberal capitalism that has focused on investing heavily in industry in export sectors in the north of the country but has done substantially less to foster real development initiatives in the country’s impoverished south. [my emphasis; internal links not included]Flannery interviews Patrick Iber, a Latin American history scholar, who addresses the kind of propaganda in WaPo's silly editorial:
Ever since his first presidential campaign, there has been a sector of Mexican opinion that fears that AMLO would turn Mexico into a kind of Venezuela. This kind of insinuation contributed to the results of 2006—officially a very narrow loss for AMLO. Former president Vicente Fox has said that AMLO doesn’t respect Mexico’s democratic institutions, and the writer Enrique Krauze imagined in The New York Times that Lopez Obrador could "move toward annulling the division of powers and subordinating the Supreme Court and other autonomous institutions after restricting the freedom of the media and silencing any dissenting voices.” To me this seems extremely far-fetched.Iber has a differently kind of comparison for AMLO, "People always want to compare Latin American leaders to each other, but the political personality that AMLO most reminds me of is Jimmy Carter. Like Carter, he is promising moral renewal after a corrupt and unpopular administration."
There are all kinds of ways that AMLO communicates respect for democracy and the rule of law. One of his rivals, Ricardo Anaya, has suggested that he would arrest the current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, if he were found guilty of corruption. AMLO has said it isn’t the president’s job to make such determinations. Other times, AMLO says he can’t commit to unilateral changes his supporters want, as they are the responsibility of Congress.
It is true that AMLO frequently makes reference to popular plebiscites, as have some of the other left-wing leaders in Latin America of recent vintage. But when pressed, he describes them as another democratic mechanism, not as a replacement for the authority of the legislature. Furthermore, the results of plebiscites would not necessarily lead to radical change. For example: abortion, same-sex marriage and adoption are legal in Mexico City. When asked if he would he would extend those rights to the rest of the country, he says he carry out a popular consultation because it’s a diverse country. The likely result of such a plebiscite would be to deny those rights on a country-wide basis, so this is probably a way of holding together his left-right MORENA-PES coalition. [my emphasis]