Pedro Gellert, a veteran left journalist and translator, has been an active Morena rank-and-filer in Mexico City since before the party became “Morena!” He has played a central role in solidarity campaigns from support for Cuba and Palestine to local neighborhood organizing. He speaks as a participant and keen observer of the Mexican left.

How does the US media portray AMLO and what’s going on in Mexico?

US mainstream media are overwhelmingly in attack mode against President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), and the Fourth Transformation (4T). AMLO calls 4T, his project to radically transform Mexican society, a renewed effort to finish the agenda of Mexico’s three previous revolutions.

How do they get away with falsifying, distorting, or omitting facts? US media takes advantage of North Americans’ ignorance about Mexico. For example, they talk about the murder of journalists without mentioning that the culprits are local public officials from the PRI or PAN — neoliberal parties governing before 2018 — colluding with the cartels.

By talking about corruption and human rights violations without mentioning that AMLO only took office in late 2018, they create the erroneous impression that AMLO’s government does not represent anything new or progressive but is more of the same.

Some go further, painting the AMLO government as authoritarian and repressive, destroying the economy and seeking to eradicate Mexican democracy.

What is the 4T project and what has it accomplished?

At its core, the 4T is about reversing Mexico’s trend of growing economic and social inequality, an inequality due to neoliberal policies that further enrich the wealthy while cutting programs that benefit the working class. As in the three previous Mexican revolutions, the 4T promises to lift workers and improve life for the most poor and marginalized.

AMLO won the presidency by making the fight against corruption his centerpiece. And he’s made good on that promise. He lives modestly himself and has clawed back ill-gotten gains from previous politicians. He’s used those dollars to implement social programs like increased benefits for elders, students, and people with disabilities. New hospitals and universities have been built. Economic development projects have focused on the poorest region of the country, the South. The 4T is also about national sovereignty, including renationalizing the energy sector — ending the privatization free-for-all that is a hallmark of neoliberal policies.

A clue explaining the indignation of the US corporate media is that AMLO threatens to close the door to free access to Mexican labor and natural resources by US companies. Unlike previous PRI presidents, the AMLO administration refuses to be a junior partner to US interests.

Do US progressives buy into the media’s depiction of Mexico today?

The US has had strong nationwide solidarity campaigns with Vietnam, South Africa, Central America, Cuba, Venezuela, and Palestine. But progressives have built almost no solidarity movement around Mexico despite Morena and the 4T’s working class base and the need to learn from and defend it. Why?

First, AMLO and his government have not prioritized building solidarity with US civil society. Perhaps they’re overwhelmed with their internal tasks. But this has contributed to the lack of information available to English-only speakers. Without access to factual information or hearing the views of the Mexican people themselves, some sectors of the US left simply mimic what they read or hear in the mainstream US media.

At its core, the 4T is about reversing Mexico’s trend of growing economic and social inequality, an inequality due to neoliberal policies that further enrich the wealthy while cutting programs that benefit the working class.

Others attack from the left, repeating criticisms of the AMLO government from the comfort of their computers. They ding him for making concessions to Washington, for not expropriating the national bourgeoisie, for not nationalizing multinational companies. That is, for not following their own recipes of what a revolutionary process should look like!

For example, some left commentators failed to understand that friendly comments and photo ops by AMLO and Donald Trump were a necessary policy to maintain the best possible relations with Washington given the geopolitical reality of Mexico, or even as a normal part of diplomatic protocol. Instead, they interpreted them as support for a xenophobic, fascist president. Similarly, with temperatures rising about Biden’s uncritical support for Israel, many progressives are disgusted that AMLO made positive statements about Mexico’s relationship to the US. They don’t know about or ignore Mexico’s historical support for Palestine and its strong October statement to the UN.

Moreover, some see Zapatismo and national electoral projects as either/or, and support ONLY the Zapatistas. The image of downtrodden, hooded, indigenous revolutionaries rising up, guns in hand, and building people’s power is appealing and romantic. But however admirable the Zapatista experience may be — and it does pose an important critique of capitalism and inspire people around the world — the struggle of the Mexican people today simply does not go through the EZLN or their vision of autonomous zones. It is waged in Mexican social movements, electoral politics, and 4T projects.

What difference would it make to people in the US if the 4T is defeated?

For those who want an end to US imperialism, Mexico is the country most critical to that effort — it takes the lead among Latin American governments in challenging US political and economic domination. AMLO boycotted Biden’s Summit of the Americas, citing the unilateral decision of the US to decide which countries were fit to be included (Cuba and Nicaragua were excluded). He openly proposed an end to the US-dominated Organization of American States and is pushing for an American economic bloc that excludes the US.

The success of the 4T’s investment in the poor at the expense of the rich with positive economic consequences for the whole country is clear evidence that neo-liberal trickle-down economics only results in the growth of economic inequality. The US left would do well to learn how Mexico accomplished this feat.

Mexico has 38 million people living in the US, and migration to the US is a constant. The policies being pursued by Mexico to diminish poverty and develop their internal economy will reduce the need for migration and make the “right to stay” a possibility. 

And the gains of Mexican workers who finally have the right to organize independent unions can help reverse the “race to the bottom” created by “free” trade agreements.

What are the results of media disinformation?

Much is at stake. When the US press attacks and belittles the 4T, it increases the risk of US intervention. We see the danger expressed on two levels.

First, we see growing aggressiveness of extreme right-wing Republican politicians who are calling for US military intervention in Mexico, using drugs as the excuse to fire up their racist base. And second, we see the US government’s open financing of right-wing opposition groups in Mexico. For example, Washington just donated almost 50 million dollars to right-wing opposition leader and business magnate Claudio X. Gonzalez, through his associated groups, to wage a dirty war against Morena.

How will the Mexico Solidarity Project meet the challenge?

We need a permanent campaign to counter disinformation in the mainstream media and to tell the truth to the North American public about the 4T. Six months ago, the Mexico Solidarity Project (MSP) brought together independent journalists in the US and Mexico to figure out how to create a counter-current in the English-speaking media. Others from Great Britain and Canada have joined as well.

The MSP already puts out this weekly bilingual Mexico Solidarity Bulletin, and it often includes a Media Rewind section debunking commentary from mainstream pundits.

But we realized that a media resource, a one-stop shop for fact-based news, progressive analysis, and translations of the best media from Mexican sources would be a huge step forward. The result: the new Mexico Solidarity Media website!

The defense of the 4T is of vital importance for the future of social struggles and transformation in both nations. We offer Mexico Solidarity Media as the go-to source for all those who want the information and analysis that will promote solidarity with México, right at their fingertips.