Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (known as AMLO) has refused to condemn the January 6 coup attempt instigated by Donald Trump. Instead, he has focused his response to the tumultuous events in the US on defending the access of Trump—the main conspirator behind efforts to establish a fascistic dictatorship—to his social media accounts.
The breakdown of American democracy has explosive implications for the political crisis engulfing the AMLO administration, as his subservience to Wall Street and US imperialism becomes increasingly evident in the context of the uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus pandemic. In defending Trump after the coup, AMLO is signaling that he will enforce the untrammeled exploitation of cheap labor and austerity diktats in Mexico with his own shift toward dictatorship.
Mexico is reporting record daily COVID-19 cases and deaths, while corporations, trade unions, and the authorities cover up deadly outbreaks in factories and workplaces. In this context, the AMLO government plans to double down on its policy of maximizing production and depriving those workers and small businesses falling into economic destitution of the necessary economic aid.
Currently, news coverage in Mexico is dominated by AMLO’s most naked appeal yet to the Mexican military, upon which he has increasingly relied to repress strikes and protests. On Friday, he endorsed the exoneration by Mexican prosecutors of Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, a former Mexican Defense Secretary who had been indicted by US courts on drug trafficking charges. The refusal of the Mexican government to level any charges against Cienfuegos is an effective guarantee of impunity to the military brass.
AMLO made his first mention of the US Capitol insurrection during a January 7 press conference. He began: “We have always acted with respect to the domestic policy of other countries, like our Constitution says… We will not intervene in matters that correspond [to] resolving, serving Americans. That is our policy; that is why I can comment.”
He then lamented the deaths of the four insurrectionists at the Capitol and appealed for the “conflict” to be resolved through “dialogue.” He concluded fleetingly: “Regarding the rest, we don’t take a position, we wish for peace, that democracy prevails, being the power of the people, and that there are freedoms. That is all.”
The Mexican president had used the same excuse of “respect” and non-intervention in foreign affairs to justify his refusal to recognize the overwhelming electoral victory of US President-elect Joe Biden until after the Electoral College ratified it on December 14. Every Latin American president, except for López Obrador and Brazil’s fascistic President Jair Bolsonaro, congratulated Biden on November 7, after the major news networks “called” the result.
As the World Socialist Web Site warned at the time, “AMLO is contributing to the installation of an American presidential dictatorship.” Having been portrayed by the American media and the pseudo-left in Latin America, Europe and North America as a “left” and “progressive” president, AMLO’s stance helped provide a cover of legitimacy for Trump’s claims of voter fraud as he prompted his fascist supporters to mobilize to overturn the elections.
As early as November 9, backing Trump’s conspiracies, AMLO was already suggesting that the greatest threat to democracy in the United States was the decision by social media companies to label as “unverified” Trump’s claims of voter fraud.
Then, on January 8, after refusing to condemn Trump’s instigation of the Capitol coup, AMLO again denounced Twitter and Facebook after Trump’s personal accounts were closed. “I don’t accept that,” he said. “There is something I said yesterday and some days earlier and I always say what I think, something I did not like about the Capitol business—it’s only that I’m respectful—but I don’t like censorship.”
He then compared the closing of Trump’s accounts to the “Holy Inquisition” and called it “extremely serious” only to add: “Where is that regulated? This is a matter of the state, not of the companies. It’s an important issue because they have tried to censor us here.”
Trump’s neofascist conspiracies constitute a threat of historic proportions for Mexican workers domestically and in the United States. Fascist groups violently hostile to migrants, incited by a president who has threatened to deploy US troops into Mexico against migrants and criminal organizations, attempted to overturn an election and establish a dictatorship.
In response, AMLO has extended his hand in collaboration. Not since Porfirio Díaz, the dictatorial ruler overthrown by the Mexican Revolution in 1911, has a Mexican head of state adopted such a submissive stance toward the imperialist power to the north.
In doing so, AMLO is merely expressing the interests of the Mexican national bourgeoisie, which has become completely subordinated economically to US imperialism in the form of a North American geopolitical platform to compete against Washington’s Asian and European economic and military rivals.
At the same time, the fate of workers internationally has been fused in the most unbreakable sense. This is especially true in Mexico and the United States. Nearly half of all Mexican imports come from the United States and 80 percent of exports go to the United States; the two countries share a 2,000-mile border, and about 40 million people of Mexican origin live in the U.S.
Numerous details have continued to surface of the high-level support in the Republican Party, the police and military for the January 6 insurrection, as well as reports by the FBI of more planned attacks by fascist militias against Washington D.C. and all US state capitals ahead of the January 20 inauguration of Joe Biden.
However, as late as Wednesday, AMLO continued his silence on the fascist plots and again aimed his attacks against the closing of Trump’s media accounts. He declared: “Since those decisions were made, the New York Statue of Liberty has been turning green from anger because it doesn’t want to become an empty symbol.”
Trump himself duly recognized AMLO’s backing in what is thus far his only public appearance since the coup attempt, a pilgrimage to his hated border wall in Texas. After applauding the “groundbreaking agreement with Mexico” to force asylum seekers to the United States to wait in Mexico, Trump gushed:
“I want to thank the great President of Mexico. He is a great gentleman, a friend of mine, President Obrador. He is a man who really knows what is happening and he loves his country and he also loves the United States… We actually had 27,000 Mexican soldiers guarding our borders over the last two years. Nobody thought that was possible.”
Trump was praising the same man promoted by pseudo-left outlets like Jacobin Magazine, which speaks for the faction of the Democratic Party in the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), as a “firebrand champion of the working class” with “pro-poor politics.”
AMLO’s subservience to Trump is a confirmation of the theory of permanent revolution developed by Leon Trotsky, who wrote on Mexico in 1938, at the time of the nationalizations of oil and railways under Lázaro Cárdenas, that the bourgeoisie was still “absolutely incapable of developing democratic rule.” He added: “If the national bourgeoisie is compelled to abandon the struggle against foreign capitalists and work under its direct tutelage, we’ll have a fascist regime.”
To oppose the threat of fascism, the Mexican working class must build a revolutionary political movement to unite with their class brothers and sisters in the United States, Latin America and internationally in a fight for socialism. This must be done in unbending opposition to all pro-capitalist and nationalist parties and the trade unions.