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LibreOrganize 0.6.0 - Documentation

The Campaign to Smear AMLO as a Narco

A naturalized Mexican citizen, writer, playwright, and journalist Kurt Hackbarth is widely followed for his political commentary. He's regularly featured in Sentido Común, al Jazeera, Jacobin, and now co-hosts a weekly podcast, Soberanía, for the Mexico Solidarity Project's Media group.

 The current president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), will not be on the ballot in June, yet he remains a target for attacks. A dirty campaign, designed to cast doubt on the coming election’s legitimacy, attempts to link him and the party he founded, Morena, with the drug cartels. We’ve greatly condensed Kurt’s article; you’ve got to read the whole piece for the full flavor of his lively dissection of media attempts to cast AMLO as a narco-president. (Ed)


Accusation #1: Morena and organized crime will be allied in Mexicos 2024 election.


On January 18, the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University published its Mexico Country Outlook 2024. The nonpartisan” institute is a hub of multinational energy interests financed by Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell, British Petroleum, the Koch Foundation, the Mexican Business Council, and Kimberly-Clark de México (headed by opposition figure Claudio X. González Laporte)


The Institute did not disappoint its donors. The report included this juicy nugget: Criminal organizations may even become an important electoral ally of MORENA in the June 2024 elections … Despite US pressure, the López Obrador administration simply will not confront organized crime … This is largely because the presidents party MORENA expects organized crime to operate in its favor during the 2024 elections.”


The report presents no evidence to support such extreme allegations.


Accusation #2: Organized crime financed AMLOs 2006 campaign.


Less than two weeks later, on January 30, the media outlets ProPublicaInSight Crime, and Deutsche Welle published three pieces on the supposed relationship between organized crime and AMLO’s first presidential campaign in 2006. ProPublica attempted to show that drug traffickers had funneled $2 million to campaign operatives in return for promises that an AMLO administration would facilitate the traffickers’ criminal operations.”


In Mexico the pieces faced blowback for simply rehashing a closed investigation from over a decade prior. (US prosecutors did not pursue the case because they were “underwhelmed” by the so-called evidence.)


Accusation #3: The cartels were involved in AMLOs 2018 campaign as well.


On February 22, New York Times writer Alan Feuer and Mexico bureau chief Natalie Kitroeff offered up a feast of vagueness and insinuation: American law enforcement officials” spent years looking into allegations (not facts) set out by US records” and three people familiar with the matter.” The piece never gets more specific: officials identified potential links” and possible ties” between cartels and AMLOs associates but did not find any direct connections” between the president and criminal organizations.


The Times admits that much of their information came from informants whose accounts can be difficult to corroborate and are sometimes incorrect. Given all this, the piece fails to rise above the level of chisme (gossip) and second- and third-hand chisme at that.


The Boomerang Effect.


The innuendo campaign was then viralized. Spanish social media analyst Julián Macías Tovar documented how a series of hashtags portraying AMLO as “narco-president” and presidential frontrunner Claudia Sheinbaum as “narco-candidate” became multi-day trending topics on X/Twitter. But spelling errors in the hashtags allowed Macías Tovar to trace the origins of the trends to a series of troll centers in Spain, Colombia, and Argentina. 


And something happened on the way to the land of character assassination: the script did not go according to plan. 


In the two weeks following the New York Times article, Morenas Sheinbaum gained five points in presidential preference polls, while Xóchitl Gálvez lost five. Even the right wing paper Reforma’s own polling found AMLOs popularity had risen eleven points to 73 percent between January and March, the period of the stiffest attacks. 


AMLO rebutted the allegations, framing them as attacks on national honor and sovereignty.  “I represent a country, I represent a people that deserves respect … No one is going to come here — because we are not criminals, we have moral authority — and just because its the New York Times, sit us down in the dock of the accused. That was before when authorities in Mexico allowed themselves to be blackmailed. Not now.”