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October 4, 2023/ This week’s issue/ Meizhu Lui, for the editorial team

Selection of the President, Mexican Style

Ex-president Vicente Fox

How were Mexican presidents chosen? They were given the finger.


The second finger, not the third. In today’s interview, Diego Torres tells us that a sitting president would handpick his choice to succeed him in a non-process sarcastically called the dedazo, from dedo or finger. Dedazo was used during the 70-year rule of the PRI party.


If any one party remains in power for 70 years, that should raise a few eyebrows about how democratic the electoral system is. But these days, it seems the single criterion of democracy is whether an election is held or not. It doesn’t matter if the candidate and the outcome are predetermined, or if the candidate promises to exploit the commoners to benefit the elite. In México’s past elections, should the chosen one not get a majority of the popular vote, many tried and true methods were available, euphemistically called “irregularities,” to ensure the desired outcome.


In 2018, AMLO became the closest that México has ever come to a president elected by the people. PRI president Peña-Nieto had aroused tremendous anger among the people, and AMLO won by such an overwhelming margin that no “irregularities” could hide the truth. With their growing electoral successes, Morena has been experimenting with new ways to select their next presidential candidate. The popular poll that chose Claudia Sheinbaum as the Morena candidate to succeed AMLO is a far cry from the dedazo — but it was more a reaction to a particular situation than a needed reform.


There’s no magic formula for achieving democracy. The people — through the ballot and in the streets — must keep pushing for new ways to ensure that candidates and presidents don’t give the second finger to an elite candidate, while giving the third finger to the nation’s people.


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

in-person US speaking tour!


This accomplished investigative journalist from México City will talk to us about developments in México since AMLO’s election in 2018, and what they mean for México and US progressives. So, bring your questions. For full information about the East Coast events in October, click here. West Coast events in November will be announced later. Walk, ride, fly don’t miss this opportunity!




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Political Parties and Presidential Politics in México

Diego Alfredo Torres Rosete is a native of México City who lived in the US as an economic migrant for 20 years. He learned about the Morena party and supported it from the US. After experiencing deportation, detention and a denial of political asylum, he returned to México City where he went to work for Morena’s secretariat for Mexicans Abroad and International Policy. He’s now an independent journalist, a defender of immigrant rights in the US, and a worker for international solidarity.

In the US, we’ve had two and only two major parties throughout our history, with other small parties arising from time to time. What’s the party system like in México?

The PRI is the oldest political party, and ruled for 70 years, from its founding in 1929 until 2000. The second oldest party is the PAN, formed in 1939. There have been myriad other parties historically to the left and right of PRI. Like the US, we have not had coalition governments as in other parts of the world. Things got more interesting starting in 1988, when progressives, including Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), broke away from the PRI and formed the PRD. AMLO became the PRD presidential candidate in 2006. But in 2011 he began to have serious differences with the PRD when it allied with the conservative PAN party. AMLO nearly quit; he formed a non-profit which became a base-building space for what later became Morena. However, in 2012 he did become the PRD candidate again. 

Mexican President  Plutarco Elias Calles, elected in 1924, founded the PRI in 1929. 

In 2014, Morena became a party, at first serving merely as an electoral vehicle for AMLO. With his victory in 2018 and the increasing success of Morena in subsequent elections, Morena is still figuring out how to be a political party of a new type in Mexican history.

Candidates for president in the US are chosen by party "primaries." Anyone can run, and party members and only party members — vote to pick the candidate. How are candidates chosen in México?


The traditional method for choosing the candidate we call the dedazo, from the Spanish dedo, meaning finger. The outgoing president would point to the person he wanted to succeed him. Simple! For 70 years, each president was selected by his predecessor.

 Claudia Sheinbaum, presidential candidate for the MORENA party in Mexico City. REUTERS/Henry Romero/File photo

This method didn’t change until the PRD used an internal party poll in 2012 to choose between AMLO and Marcel Ebrard; both had seemingly equal support.


In the recently completed nomination process for 2024, AMLO clearly rejected the undemocratic dedazo method; he wanted the Morena candidate to be chosen by the people. While some claim that Claudia Sheinbaum was his favored candidate, whether true or not, he made no effort to promote her candidacy above the others.

Because of internal problems within Morena, the party decided that a public poll in which everyone could vote, regardless of political affiliation or lack of one, administered by a neutral polling group, was the best solution. Not to look less democratic, the conservative opposition coalition used the same method.


Using the dedazo, one person decides. In choosing the 2024 Morena candidate, 12,500 people selected the nominee.


Mexico has no Vice President. Why? 


We had vice presidents after independence from Spain, but in Mexican history, the two top leaders were often in conflict — including assassinations. The vice president was usually a leader who thought they should be president. So, in 1917 after the Revolution, the Constitution was amended to abolish the position of vice president.


Who can vote, and what has been the rate of voter participation?


Anyone over the age of 18 can vote, but they must register. US Mexicanos, even those born in the US, are eligible to vote if their parents were born in México. Unfortunately, few take advantage of that opportunity, and it’s something that Morena needs to address.

Voter participation has taken a huge jump. In the 2006 election, 71 million people registered to vote and about 41 million voted. Felipe Calderon, in a controversial and extremely close result, won the election. He had a lead of only 0.6% of the vote (or 243,934 votes).


In the 2012 election, 77 million people registered to vote and 49 million voted, with 19 million (according to the official tally, which had serious irregularities) going for Peña-Nieto, and 16 million for AMLO.


In 2018, 90 million people registered, and 56 million people voted — AMLO won with over 30 million votes. The number of registered voters and the number actually voting skyrocketed between 2006 and 2018.

Registered voters, 2018. Infographic:

By Mariana Sánchez Ramirez, March 9, 2018

The US has an electoral college, so voters are actually voting for an elector. Is that true in México?


No, voters choose the president directly, and he/she wins by a plurality of votes. The president can only serve a single six-year term.


What about money in politics? Are there limits to what individuals or businesses can donate to a candidate’s campaign?


Political parties and campaigns receive money from the government in proportion to the number of votes they received. For example, since Morena had twice as many votes as PAN in the 2018 election, they receive twice as much money for their party expenses. The parties also receive extra for electoral campaigns.


The law is that each party can raise privately no more than the amount they receive from the government. But campaigns cost more than what parties are allotted and are allowed to raise. So it’s difficult to stay within the law.

Defense of Mexico’s electoral commission, the INE, became a rallying cry for AMLO’s opposition. Why all the fuss?

The INE’s purpose is simply to run elections. But INE members are wedded to the old system, and they don’t like the way AMLO has run the government. For one thing, he has said that no one in government can make more money than the president, and he cut his salary by 60% from his predecessor (he makes about $5,700/month US). INE officials still make far more than that and are among the highest paid government employees. 

Sign says “I defend the INE!”

Photo: Jorge Chincoya, Shutterstock

In order to punish AMLO, the INE disqualified two Morena candidates from running for office over minor infractions of the campaign spending rules. On the other hand, it is well known that Peña-Nieto vastly overspent in his 2012 campaign, and the INE looked the other way. The INE President had also made public political statements against AMLO, which is outside of INE’s function.


Do you think that history will see 2018 as a turning point for democratizing elections in México?


2018 was notable for sure. But 2024 and the next six years are even more important — and we won’t have AMLO. The 4T will keep going because much of the groundwork has been laid: the Tren Maya is nearly complete, the Dos Bocas oil refinery, new social programs. But now, we’ll have to start confronting the problems not addressed under AMLO.


The next president’s term will be either the beginning of the end of the democratization of Mexican politics, or the consolidation of the gains made during AMLO’s term. If we consolidate, 2018 will be remembered as México entering a new era. If we backslide, by the 2030 election no one will remember 2018.


US and Mexican Autoworkers:  Same Adversaries, Same Fight 

On September 26, the México Solidarity Project organized a protest in front of VU manufacturing headquarters in Detroit, MI, which illegally slammed its doors on its workers in Mexico. We excerpt from the flyer used to inform strikers about VU.

A heroic and historic UAW strike today: Auto industry jobs used to be good jobs. But since the 1990s, US automakers have impoverished autoworker families through plant closings, stagnant wages, and wage tiers.


But how were the companies able to impose the take-aways? A big reason was NAFTA. It allowed auto companies to go to México to take advantage of low wages and their company unions that protected employers, not workers. Ending wage tiers is a major goal of this strike. But the first tier structure ever was created between Mexican and US workers. New US auto worker hires and UAW bargaining power were casualties of this international race to the bottom. Right now, Stellantis has threatened to transfer truck production to México to counter the UAW’s just demands.

Mexican and US workers must stand together: At VU Manufacturing in Piedras Negras, which makes vehicle upholstery, the workers faced down threats of violence and replaced a company union with a rank and file union. But rather than negotiate a contract with the new union, the company shut down the plant. The last 71 workers at the plant have not received a dime. Now there is a city-wide blacklist 

against hiring any of the 400 former VU workers. The bosses want to make these workers suffer to scare other workers from organizing. That way, auto companies can continue to force US workers to accept concessions while profits soar.  

VU manufacturing workers speak:

Jovanna: "At the job fair, it looked like a funeral, because no one would hire us.”

Dario: “Vicente and I [rank and file union organizers] were unjustly fired. The company did not pay our severance, vacation, week of back-pay — they didnt pay us anything.”

Miguel: “We are unemployable, but we are not problem employees. This is a message against all independent unions in the future.”


Join the Detroit protest at VU headquarters. Auto companies cross borders. SO CAN WE!


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. 

Timothy Wise, Stop cheapening Mexico’s white and native corn IATP. Mexico's Undersecretary of Agriculture Víctor Suárez on the campaign for food self-sufficiency


Piden organizaciones de México a EU alentar cultivo de maíces no transgénicos Imagen Agropecuaria. En lugar de buscar que México acepte un maíz transgénico forrajero para su uso en productos alimenticios y en alimento para ganado, “bien haría su gobierno en alentar la producción de maíces no transgénicos, lo cual podría mejorar la salud de su propia población”.


Jeff Schuhrke, This Fight Is Global In These Times. In Mexico, a number of autoworkers are refusing voluntary overtime in support of the U.S. strike.


Viri Ríos, Llamado a la cordura El Milenio. Existe una tendencia creciente por parte de destacados expertos a utilizar información errada, hiperbólica o mal fundamentada en sus análisis de México. Ejemplos hay por todos lados.


Faruk Imamovic, Mexico Fights for Food Sovereignty Amid Trade Tensions Financial World. 2020 saw Mexico amplifying its commitment by announcing a comprehensive ban on all GMO corn, inclusive of imports, slated to begin by January 31, 2024.


Tamara Mares Rivera, Harfuch estuvo allí Sin Embargo.  El aspirante a la candidatura de Morena en la Ciudad de México, sí participó en la junta de autoridades del Gobierno de Enrique Peña Nieto donde se fabricó la “verdad histórica.”


Mexico To Rejoin the G77+China Telesur English. The Mexican nation seeks to shape "a new world" and promote South-South cooperation.


“JUDÍA...”, ATACA FOX Sin Embargo. El expresidente Vicente Fox lanza nuevo ataque antisemita contra Claudia Sheinbaum.


Interoceanic railway to connect with Maya Train Mexico News Daily. Linking to the second line will connect the country’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts.


Erick Gutierrez, Gobierno de AMLO retira 9 concesiones de explotación de Litio: el yacimiento más grande de México Sin Línea. En abril de 2022, el Gobierno de México declaró al litio como material estratégico, por lo que el Estado tiene ahora el derecho exclusivo sobre la exploración, producción y comercialización.


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,  Courtney Childs, Victoria Hamlin, Agatha Hinman, Peter Shapiro. To give feedback or get involved yourself, please email us!

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