“For the good of all, the poor first” is a phrase that Andrés Manuel López Obrador plagiarized from Enrique González Pedrero’s campaign for governor of Tabasco in 1983.
Above all, it is a phrase, a good slogan. A false phrase, but striking. The president boasted in his fifth Government Report that more than five million Mexicans had escaped poverty, but in the lowest decile, that of extreme poverty, according to Luis de la Calle, “the absence of success in reducing Poverty occurred in the most marginalized groups, in those who have the greatest difficulty participating in the modern economy” (“Mexico, middle class and aspirationist”, Free Letters 22.Aug.23). This government failed to get the poorest, who in Mexico are the indigenous, out of their condition of poverty. So much rhetoric spent on the native peoples to end the six-year term with a failure in the fight against poverty.
For López Obrador, poverty “is not a personal matter, it is a matter of political strategy.” The president affirmed: “by helping the poor, one is safe, because it is already known that when it is necessary to defend the transformation, he counts on them” (the day4.Jan.23).
If we consider attention to the poorest as a political strategy, its failure is notable because it did not improve the condition of those who live in the greatest marginalization. Surprisingly: access to social programs is significantly lower among the population living in extreme poverty. For the good of Morena, the vote of the poor. “Development with justice”, as long as the president determines what justice is. The moral economy is summed up in the political control of the economy with the aim of achieving a greater concentration of power.
Official propaganda claims that the success of economic policy should be celebrated. An empty sentence. For me, Mexican humanism is the more than 800,000 deaths due to the implementation of a terrible strategy to combat Covid; Mexican humanism is the 50.4 million Mexicans who do not have health services. Thanks to the humanism of our president, life expectancy under his government went from 74 to 71 years.
More than the strength of the peso and the increase in minimum wages, the decrease in life expectancy of Mexicans starkly demonstrates the failure of the economic model applied by the president.
After carefully reading the fifth Report, I did not find some elements that could help to understand what the economy of transformation, the moral economy, consists of—if not the fight against extreme poverty—which are the following:
The Mexican millionaires of before are now more millionaires, and new millionaires have emerged under the protection of power, such as Lomelí, the Jalisco pharmacist; the owner of the Vidanta group; the friends of the president’s children; etc. Crony capitalism.
The analysis of the Coneval survey carried out by Luis de la Calle shows that the increase in the income of Mexicans grew: only 16 percent was due to social programs, 6.0 percent to remittances, and the rest thanks to force. Mexican labor force, led by large, medium and small businessmen. But in the fifth Report the efforts of the businessmen are not appreciated, nor are they mentioned.
The moral economy has favored the military. To remove the specter of a military coup d’état that began to be explored after the release of Ovidio Guzmán, they proceeded to corn them. 13 high-ranking soldiers were favored to rebuild the AIFA, millionaire figures were deposited in their personal accounts; from these accounts the military hired and paid at their discretion. The government decided to reserve this information for five years “for national security.” The military leadership was entrusted with the emblematic works—to enrich it and make it complicit—it was given customs, ports, now airports and an airline line.
In May 2019, the call to present the construction projects of Dos Bocas was declared void. The four foreign companies that presented their options—for exceeding the $8 billion and three years of construction requested by the government—were informed that they were well above what López Obrador wanted in terms of cost and time. The government would take over the construction. To date, 17 billion dollars have been spent and it has been more than four years without being able to produce a single drop of gasoline. Corruption and inefficiency, the two hallmarks of the four tea.
Propaganda calls the economy sustained by trade with the United States and the remittances that come from there (10 percent of which come from drug trafficking), the economy that has decreased the life expectancy of Mexicans. presidential “moral economy.” It is part of “Mexican humanism” which, if we stick to the facts, consists of doing nothing for the poorest and reducing the number of years of life of Mexicans.