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Trump’s Mexico problem

PETER O’CONNOR
Staff Columnist
oconnor@lbknews.com

Would-be President AMLO (Andre’s Manuel Lo’pez Obrador) is trying to play down his hard-left history. By Mary Anastasia O’Grady in The Wall Street Journal, Monday, June 4,2018

“Donald Trump has cultivated a contentious relationship with the government of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.  But if left-wing Presidential candidate Andre’s Manual Lo’pez  wins the July 1 election, it may not be long before Mr. Trump regrets many lost opportunities to advance U.S. interests by working with Mr. Pena Nietro  to deepen  institutional reforms.

The troubles that an AMLO presidency could bring to the U.S. go way beyond the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.  AMLO says he is an anti-establishment moderate out to unseat a corrupt political class.  Others say he is an old-fashioned Mexican corporatist.  But he can’t get to the presidential palace without Mexico’s hard left.  If he makes it, he will be under pressure to repay  the more extreme elements of his campaign.

The market will impose some economic discipline on him.  But there will be no cost to opening the doors of his government’s Foreign Ministry to every useful idiot, true believer in utopia, and power-hungry climber in the country.  Once in , they will bring their friends from places like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Iran to ‘educate’ and provide ‘health care’ in the barrios and pueblitos – and to share military advice.

The AMLO team understands the risks of a peso collapse sparked by an investor stampede for the exits if he is declared winner on July 2.  This is why he makes a point of calmly promising  ‘respect’ and ‘friendship’ with the U.S. and no big reversals of the market economy.   

Between the election and the Dec. 1 inauguration, expect even more reassurances of continuity.  Anything less could finish his presidency before it starts.  Brazilian President Luis Ina’cio Lula da Silva had to do much the same thing when he first won election in 2002.

Yet there are gaping inconsistencies between AMLO’s worldview and his insistence that he is a centrist.  He cannot, for example, promise fiscal restraint while pouring government resources into agriculture with the goal of reviving agrarian life circa 1960.  Nor has he reconciled his long history of opposing  private investment in oil and gas  with his vague and shifting suggestions that he will not disrupt  the opening of the energy industry,  In February AMLO advisor Alfonso Romo said that the campaign had reviewed most existing contracts and found them acceptable, as if he and the new president will be the final arbiters of fairness.”

More from Ms. O’Grady:  “Yet this potential for economic instability pales  in comparison with the dangers presented by the close relations between Mr. Lo’pez Obrador’s National  Regeneration Movement – Morena – and several military dictatorships.  These are not casual bonds; they are statements of ideological solidarity, and they are perilous.  AMLO says he does not know Venezuelan strongman Nicola’s Maduro.  But as Mexican writer Fernando Garcia Ramirez observed in a Jan. 15 column in the daily El Financiero, that’ is true in personal terms but false with respect to his party and his movement.’  Key players in Morena, Mr.Garcia  Ramirez pointed out, ‘sustain an intense relationship with chavismo in general and the Party of Maduro – the United Socialist Party of Venezuela – ‘in particular.’

Exhibit  A is Morena’s president, Yeidckol Polevnsky, who speaks frankly about her admiration for Fidel Castro, Hugo Cha’vez and the Bolivarian revolution and of her desire ti import Bolivarian ideas to Mexico.  ‘She travels constantly to Venezuela’ Mr. Garcia Ramirez wrote, ‘participates in chavista activities, has continuous  contact  with the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.’  Another high-ranking  Morena  official who is enamored with Venezuela is He’ctor Diaz-Polanco.  He  has said that Morena coming to power will allow Mexico to integrate into the Bolivarian revolution.

Mr.Lo’pez Obrador will also attract opportunists who see him as a way to get ahead.  Mr. Romo is one such figure.  Another is Sen. Gabriela Cuevas, who once belonged to the center-right  National Action Party but jumped to Morena in January to advance her political career.  When I met her in Mexico last year she had just returned from a recreational break in Cuba where, she told me, she goes because she has ‘friends’ in the dictatorship.  She is also a fan of Iran, as she explained in November  speech in Mexico City: ‘Today Iran is one of the most important fighters against extremism, violence and terrorism.  In this sense, both Iran and Mexico have been loyal to the constructive dialogue.’

Bring this stuff up and AMLO shouts ‘dirty war.”  Many Mexicans fear his vengeance if he wins and thus shrink from the debate.  But no one will be able to say, after the fact , that the proclivities were not there.  That includes Mr. Trump.”

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