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January 31, 2024/ This week’s issue/ Meizhu Lui, for the editorial team


US Faults Mexico Elections — Pots & Kettles

When someone accuses someone else of a fault they are guilty of themselves, we say that “the pot calls the kettle black.”


Both the US and Mexico will elect presidents and lawmakers in 2024, and elections are a test of democracy — that is, government of the people, by the people, for the people. The US self-proclaims that it is the most democratic country in the world and therefore has the self-anointed right to be the self-appointed judge of whether other countries are democratic. 


US officials and its media mouthpieces are already painting the Mexican kettle black. “AMLO is a dictator!" “He will subvert democracy in the Mexican election!” The ominous undercurrent is, “And we must do something about it!”


It would be hilarious if it weren’t so frightening. The US has a probable presidential candidate who openly espouses strongman rule that would put him above the rule of law, and who promises to invade sovereign Mexico without its consent. 


AMLO and Morena make no such authoritarian threats. They don’t need dictatorial power; they have won overwhelming support from the people fair and square, based on the pro-worker reforms implemented during AMLO’s term of office.


That said, it’s also true that both the US and the Mexican systems have rules that favor the few over the many. But democracy is not fixed; it is a process. At its best, ordinary citizens continually make new rules to increase their governing power. 


Which country measures up on that score? The one curbing voting rights and attacking fair elections? Or, as Diego Torres discusses this week, the one proposing to eliminate cronyism and corruption? The pot is getting blacker as dirt accumulates, but the kettle is striving to clean itself up.


Announcing the new Mexico Solidarity Media!

Watch brief testimonials from international supporters of the latest Mexico Solidarity Project effort!


We’re excited to announce MSP member José Luis Granados Ceja’s

in-person US speaking tour!

The México Solidarity Project, Liberation Road/Camino para la Libertad, and Democratic Socialists of America are proud to host this accomplished investigative journalist from México City. He will speak, among other things, on issues of immigration and the border, national sovereignty, and labor, and what this means for México and US progressives. Here are the West Coast cities José Luis will visit and the dates:


Jan 31 - Feb. 2:  Portland, OR

Feb. 3:  Salem, OR

Feb. 4 - 6:  Oakland and San Francisco, CA

Feb. 6 - 7:  San Diego, CA

Feb. 8 - 10:  Los Angeles CA


Bring friends and feel free to share this notice. Donations gratefully accepted.

Any questions? Contact Betty Forrester or Jeff Elkner


Don’t miss an issue! Sign up for a free México Solidarity Bulletin subscription.


How Mexico Elects It’s Leaders — The Rules


Diego Alfredo Torres Rosete grew up in Mexico City. He lived in the United States as an undocumented immigrant for 20 years. After returning to Mexico, he worked in the AMLO government’s Secretariat of Mexicans Abroad and International Affairs. He’s now Coordinator of the Frente Amplio de Mexicanos en el Exterior (Broad Front of Mexicans Abroad), a Morena party activist, and an independent journalist.

In the US, any individual can run for President, even if they have no political party. What are the rules in Mexico?

In Mexico presidential candidates represent parties. And parties must register by proving that 3% of the voting population supports them. We have seven parties that passed that test: the rightist parties PAN, PRI, and PRD, and the leftist parties Morena, Partido Trabajadores, and Partido Verde or Green Party. The Partido Verde isn’t really left; it opportunistically allies with whatever party they think will gain them seats. 


Three candidates are running for president. The three rightist parties formed a coalition called the Broad Front for Mexico (Frente Amplio por Mexico or FAM) and are running Xochitl Gálvez; the three lefist parties formed Let's Keep Making History (Seguimos Haciendo Historia or SHH) and are running Claudia Sheinbaum. The Citizens Movement (Movimiento Cuidadanos) is running Jorge Álvarez Máynez.

Claudia Sheinbaum, Xochitl Gálvez: Image/AP; Jorge Álvarez Máynez: Image/X (Twitter)

How were the presidential candidates selected? 


We have no set process. Morena used a public poll to get a sense of the public’s preference, but the winner of the poll is not necessarily the candidate. The candidate must have also proven themselves by acting in accordance with Morena’s principles. Gender balance is also considered.


For example, Morena used a poll in Mexico City to see who the public preferred as their candidate for mayor. The poll chose the police commissioner, García Harfuch; however, the party chose Clara Brugada instead. This method has its dangers — some Harfuch supporters were angry! But luckily, he graciously agreed to work for Brugada’s election.


The other two candidates were chosen through internal discussion among leaders. No party uses primaries state-by-state as in the US.


The US spends more on campaigns than the budgets of small countries. How are campaigns financed?


The government is the biggest funder. It allots each party an amount of money proportional to the number of votes they got in the previous election. So if your party had 20% of the votes, you get 20% of the government’s election funds for your campaign. 


The party may also raise additional private dollars, but that amount cannot be bigger than the amount the government allots. Thus, the amount a party can spend on campaigns is capped — it’s not a race to see who can raise the most money. Of course, this system favors the party in power as they can spend the most.


Mexican law designates three different campaign periods by law. The people selected to run are called “pre-candidates” and from November until January 18, they are in the “pre-candidacy” period. What is the purpose of this period?


During the pre-candidacy, the candidates must work only inside their own party. They work with supporters to make sure they understand the issues of concern, and to hone their messages. They cannot do public events. For example, Claudia was supposed to speak with her supporters in Los Angeles a few months ago in an open air stadium. At the last minute, she had to move it to an indoor location.

Sheinbaum and Nuevo León Governor Samuel García Photo: Especial

During the second period, from January 19 to February 29, the candidates meet with specific constituencies and explore the issues in different regions. For example, Tesla is going to build a huge plant in Nuevo Leon — what are the potential problems? But it's still forbidden for candidates to talk to the media.


The official campaign begins March 1. Since the election is on June 2, the campaign period is only three months.

The Mexican Congress has two houses, a Senate, and a Chamber of Deputies. Can you explain how many there are and how they are chosen?

There are 500 Deputies (similar to  Representatives in the US); 300 are elected directly from local districts from five regions (and gerrymandering goes on in Mexico too). The number of deputies representing each state is based on population.The other 200 are called “plurinominal,” or “party list”; they are selected by the parties in numbers proportional to the popular votes received in the election. That’s where political favors come in! 

A congressional session Photo: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg

The senate has 128 members. Each of the 32 states gets three Deputies; the first two are the highest vote-getters; the third must be from a different party if the first two are from the same party. The final 32 are “plurinominal,” again, appointed by the parties. 


By law, no party is allowed to have a majority in both houses of Congress. But in order to pass a Constitutional Amendment, as is desired by Morena, they need two-thirds of the votes in both houses. Their strategy for getting those votes? Win the first two seats, and then ensure that the other parties in their coalition win those third seats.


AMLO has been pushing for electoral reform, but twice so far has failed to pass legislation in Congress. He has a “Plan C” for this. What’s the Plan?

Photo: Banderas News, San Miguel Times Feb. 5 2017

First, give less money to the parties for campaigns. Right now, campaigns receive 660 million pesos. This money could be used to improve social programs for the poor. He calls this type of reform “republican austerity.”


Second, do away with the non-elected “plurinominal” seats, which would reduce the number of Deputies and Senators. Elections would be more democratic, and again, it would cut the cost of government.

Third, eliminate the high-paid INE (the Electoral Commission) officials in each state. The function of the INE is simply to manage elections — which only happen every three years. They have nothing to do the rest of the time! This is the reform AMLO suggested last year that triggered protests engineered by the friends of the corrupt INE.


What else is needed to promote greater democracy in the president’s term?


We’ve not had a new Constitution since 1917, and so much has changed over the last century. We need a Constitutional Convention to improve the basic rights and laws governing Mexico. If we can get the two-thirds majorities we need, now is the time to make the priorities of the 4T permanent.


US Complicity in the Drug Cartel’s Crimes

Writer, playwright, and journalist Kurt Hackbarth is a naturalized Mexican citizen living in Oaxaca. His  political commentary is regularly featured in Sentido Común, Al Jazeera, and Jacobin. 

Many Mexican and US talking heads have criticized AMLO for not stopping the violence that drives the drug trade in México. The journalist Kurt Hackbarth gave the back story to these charges earlier this spring in his perceptive monthly Jacobin magazine column. We excerpted from that column in our own June 7, 2023 “Reflection” column. 


In 2024 the drug cartels continue to be a significant and misreported issue in the US press. The violence of the drug trade is often used as an excuse to attack AMLO’s popular and progressive presidency, even to the extent of threatening military intervention. We think, in the face of the coming elections in both countries, it’s timely to rerun this this background on the relationship of the US and former Mexican governments to the cartels.


On February 21, 2023 a federal jury in Brooklyn, New York found Mexicos former secretary of public security, Genaro García Luna, guilty of conspiring with the Sinaloa Cartel.


Known as the supercop,” because he wielded outsize power during the administration of conservative president Felipe Calderón, García Luna was convicted on all counts: conspiracy to distribute cocaine internationally, conspiracy to distribute and possess cocaine, and conspiracy to import cocaine, together with participating in a continuing criminal enterprise and making false statements on his application to become a naturalized US citizen.


The verdict represents a brutal humiliation for two former presidents: Vicente Fox (2000–2006), who appointed García Luna director of the Federal Intelligence Agency (AFI), and Felipe Calderón (2006–2012), who elevated him to cabinet status as secretary for public security, investing him with plenipotentiary powers over the nations policing.  


In stark contrast to the former presidents’ attempts to depict their time in office as heroic crusades against organized crime, witness accounts painted a portrait of a security apparatus in lockstep with it. According to Jesús “El Rey” Zambada, brother of the Sinaloa Cartel’s former leader Ismael, members of the Sinaloa Cartel would wear AFI uniforms “to make arrests and engage in fighting” while García Luna, as the agency head, was on the take for $1.5 million a month.


Both in the formulation of charges and the evidence presented, the prosecution case led by US attorney Breon Peace appeared perfectly calibrated to achieve a conviction while divulging the least possible information to the public.


When the defense asked about García Lunas meetings with top-level officials in Washington, the prosecution moved to head them off. But one matter did slip out — the testimony of US Drug Enforcement Agency agent Miguel Madrigal who stated that the agency had been informed about García Lunas connections with the Sinaloa Cartel back in 2010.


The fact that the US intelligence community had a pretty good idea of who García Luna was did not stop its rank and file from working with him” or even, as it turned out, going into business with him.


Recent news reports and commentaries, from progressive and mainstream media,
on life and struggles on both sides of the US-México border compiled by Jay Watts

Jonathan Ng, Both Parties Have Turned the Border Wall Into a Death Trap Truthout. Republicans and Democrats have promoted the militarization of the U.S. Southwest for decades, framing immigration as a security issue, while enlisting foreign allies and military contractors in an ongoing offensive against migrants. These policies fuel unimaginable levels of violence.


Gustavo Castillo García, Jueza otorga libertad condicional a ocho militares por caso Iguala La Jornada. En tanto, la Comisión para la Verdad y el Acceso a la Justicia en el Caso Ayotzinapa (Covaj) condenó el cambio de medida cautelar para otorgar el beneficio de libertad condicional a los ocho militares.


William Savinar, López Obrador blasts release of 8 soldiers tied to mass disappearance of students Courthouse News. Judge Raquel Ivette Duarte Cedillo imposed a new set of precautionary measures, allowing the soldiers to await their trial on forced disappearance charges outside of prison.


Francisco Javier Soto, Secretaría de Gobierno sí previno a SCJN sobre liberación de militares del caso Ayotzinapa Sentido Común. Luisa Alcalde hizo pública la comunicación donde muestra la inconformidad del gobierno sobre el posible cambio a medidas cautelares para 8 militares involucrados en la desaparición de los 43 normalistas.


Andrew Schunk, Goodyear workers in Mexico celebrate new contract Tire Business. The contract, effective January 19th, will significantly increase wages, benefits and job security for the plant’s 1,144 workers, who labor leaders claimed had been illegally excluded from the industry wide law since the plant opened in 2018.


Alejandro Páez Varela y Álvaro Delgado Gómez, La conjura de las élites Sin Embargo. Los X. González y oligarcas pagaron informe que liga a Morena con narcos. Este dudoso informe está siendo promocionado en los medios estadounidenses, incluidos los de izquierda, para desacreditar a Morena.


Amy Stillman, Audi Workers in Mexico Hold First Auto Strike Under AMLO Bloomberg. The unionized workers went on strike on Wednesday mid-morning after rejecting the German automaker’s proposal of a 6.5% salary increase for this year’s contract.


Daniela Barragán, Mar de dudas razonables Sin Embargo. La candidata de derecha Xóchitl Gálvez acumula preguntas sobre inconsistencia en sus propiedades, ingresos, empresas.


The Border Crisis: The View of the CP Mexico ML Today. A critical view from the left of Mexican and US policies on migration.


Urge Biden a avalar ley que le permita cerrar su frontera sur La Jornada. Al necesitar el apoyo republicano para vender armas a Ucrania, Biden pretende implementar medidas extremas en la frontera que amenazarán vidas y familias.


The Mexico Solidarity Project brings together activists from various socialist and left organizations and individuals committed to worker and global justice. We see the 2018 election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador as president of México as a watershed moment. AMLO and his progressive Morena party aim to end generations of corruption, impoverishment, and subservience to US interests. Our Project supports not just Morena, but all Mexicans struggling for basic rights, and opposes US efforts to undermine organizing and México’s national sovereignty.


Editorial committee: Meizhu Lui, Bruce Hobson, Agatha Hinman, Victoria Hamlin, Courtney Childs, Susan Weiss.  To give feedback or get involved yourself, please email us!

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