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LibreOrganize 0.6.0 - Documentation

The End of the Myth of Meritocracy in México

Earlier this year, the head of the government in México City, Claudia Sheinbaum, touted the universal scholarship that now goes to all preschool, primary, and secondary students enrolled in the public school system. Her government instituted the scholarship — approximately US$16 a month per student — in 2019 to replace an earlier scholarship that only went to talented” children with high grades.

Sheinbaums touting of the new universal program unleashed a wave of criticism from her political opposition and their sympathizers. They resorted to tired neoliberal clichés. The program, they charged, was rewarding mediocrity.

In response, Sheinbaum noted that the debate revealed some fundamental differences between the political philosophy of previous neoliberal governments and the philosophy of the “Fourth Transformation” led by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.


Those who support the Fourth Transformation reject the myth of meritocracy, and this rejection perhaps best defines the Fourth Transformation’s ideology. The meritocracy myth used to permeate Mexican society and its political institutions. Indeed, this myth that capitalism rewards the most talented” has always been a fundamental aspect of the ideology that underpins neoliberalism.


“For me,” Sheinbaum explained in defense of her universal scholarship program, “one of the foundations of the Fourth Transformation is the construction of a welfare state where no one is left behind.”


Politicians like López Obrador and Sheinbaum are doing something quite simple. They are making policies that acknowledge the structural barriers that impede working-class families from having the same opportunities as the privileged. These scholarships — and other direct cash-transfer programs by the federal government — also go a long way to explaining the enduring popularity of López Obrador and Sheinbaum. The people understand that, in contrast to previous regimes that gave priority to the interests of México’s ruling class, this government rules in favor of the poor majority.


Sheinbaum recently sent another clear message to her critics, announcing that she would seek to amend Mexico Citys Constitution to consecrate the scholarship as a constitutional right that future governments will not be able to take away from the citys children.

José Luis Granados Ceja, a Mexican freelance journalist, is currently studying human rights and popular democracy at the Autonomous
University of Mexico City. His writings on democratic struggles in Latin America appear regularly online at his Antimperialistia site.