January 22, 2024
Atlixco, Puebla, Mexico

To the Editor:

The article “Tense Elections in Mexico and U.S. Endanger Democracy” reveals a serious lack of contact with the political landscape in Mexico. The upcoming presidential elections in Mexico are far from “tense”, and there is little danger to Mexican democracy, as the Morena party, very far ahead in all public opinion polls, has demonstrated its commitment to democratic freedoms.

Here are some of the most striking examples of the distance from reality of the article’s perspective: 

“Mexico’s incumbent president Andrés Manuel López Obrador has insisted he will not accept defeat for his hand-chosen successor, former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo, even though a broad coalition of opposition parties have joined together to support a popular alternative candidate, Senator Xóchitl Gálvez.”

The author gives no source for his statement that AMLO “will not accept defeat”, which is at odds with Lopez Obrador’s oft-stated commitment to free and fair elections; distorts the process of serious door to door polling by which Claudia Sheinbaum was chosen as the Morena Party candidate; and mischaracterizes the coalition of opposition parties (the PRI, PAN and the PRD) that is “broad” in name only, and which supports the less than “popular” Xochitl Galvez, who is 30 to 40 points behind Claudia Sheinbaum in the polls.

“Sheinbaum would pursue Lopez Obrador’s hands-off approaches to cartels and to allowing migrants from other countries cross Mexico unimpeded on their way to the United States.”

Again, this is a mischaracterization of the present administration’s policies on security and migration. AMLO has built up the National Guard, a gendarmerie stationed in barracks throughout the country, in a defensive posture, while the regular army takes on the task of finding and destroying drug labs, protecting oil and gas pipelines, and dealing with outbreaks of violence. This strategy, along with the provision of universal social benefits and programs directed at young people, providing apprenticeships and scholarships to dry up the cartels’ recruitment base, seem to be working, as major crimes including homicides have decreased by over 25% during the AMLO presidency.

When the USA stops the illegal smuggling of military grade weapons to Mexico, stops the money-laundering of drug money by US financial institutions, and takes down the drug distribution networks in the USA, it will be far easier for Mexico to eliminate the cartels.

Migration is a US problem that is costing Mexico dearly. AMLO has done as much as can be expected to deal with a crisis created by economic conditions in the sending countries made worse by US sanctions. His administration has strengthened controls at the southern border, offering asylum, residence visas and work permits to migrants, and has established refugee shelters in many parts of the country.

It would be more useful for US pundits to take a look at our own “tense” political environment and the fact that most voters are dissatisfied with the two leading candidates for the presidency, but have little choice in the matter. That is a real danger to our democracy.