Andrés Manuel López Obrador, also known as “AMLO”, is the leader of the new Mexican center-left political party named the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA). Obrador is one of the three main candidates for Mexico’s 2018 presidential elections. This will be the third time he has run for election in Mexico’s presidential race, and he is determined to achieve his goal this time.
Back in 2006, when he first campaigned to become president of Mexico, he lost to right-wing Felipe Calderón from the National Action Party (PAN) who won by a mere 0.5% of the vote, but there were many controversies and irregularities that surrounded that year’s election, mainly allegations of electoral fraud.
Then, in the 2012 presidential elections, López Obrador lost by a larger margin (by about 7%) to current Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). There were many irregularities in that election also. The National Electoral Institute (INE), the agency in charge of overseeing the elections to assure that elections are legal and honest, admitted just in January that Peña Nieto’s campaign received illegal financing and dark money, that there were widespread allegations of coercion and vote buying by the PRI, and that the campaign even paid the people who were in charge of the polls so they could benefit Peña Nieto when they counted the votes.
All of this has led López Obrador to take “desperate measures” in order to win the 2018 elections. One of his decisions and probably one of the most controversial among leftist voters was forming an electoral coalition with the Social Encounter Party (PES).
The Social Encounter Party is a far-right political party in Mexico created in 2006 by Hugo Eric Flores, a neo-Pentecostal pastor that supported Felipe Calderón’s campaign for Mexico’s presidency in the State of Baja California and turned it into a National Party in 2014. It has branded itself as the “Party of the Family” and its electoral base is mainly conformed by evangelical Christians. The Social Encounter Party’s own name forms an acronym which resembles the word “Pez” (fish in Spanish) which is a symbol commonly used by Christians. In its home State, Baja California, the Social Encounter Party even uses the openly-religious ichthus symbol as their party logo, although it doesn’t use it nationally.
The PES, obviously, is against same-sex marriage, abortion, contraception and even sexual education in schools. It is also the first and only Mexican Party to be openly pro-Israel even though Mexico has had a long history of non-intervention and neutrality when it comes to world affairs.
The PES was also responsible for the passing of a law in Baja California which would allow religious people and churches to discriminate if they did so because of religious reasons. The law is not valid though because Art. 1 of the Mexican Constitution states that discrimination can’t be legal in any form or circumstance (yes, even for religious reasons).
The Social Encounter Party was also very supportive of the 2016 mass protests in Mexico against same-sex marriage.
Norma Edith Martínez, a PES Congresswoman, rejected Peña Nieto’s 2016 proposal for legalizing same-sex marriage by stating that it would cause people to start marrying dolphins and laptops. This same congresswoman even created a bill that would not only allow doctors to not take care of patients if they couldn’t because of “religious convictions”, but it also sought to call sexual education in schools “pornography”.
The Social Encounter Party is not only a conservative party, but a Christian Supremacist one, and this has created a lot of outrage from leftist voters against MORENA. Even long-time AMLO supporters, like writer Elena Poniatowska, have shown opposition to this coalition, but the people most hurt and angry by this decision are the LGBTQ+ community, feminists, and secular people, since they feel that MORENA (AMLO’s party) is throwing them under the bus just so they can now seek far-right evangelical voters.
Many LGBTQ+ activists have openly protested at AMLO rallies and meetings, like the time transwoman-activist Diana Bayardo Marroquín recriminated AMLO for the lack of support offered by the Labor Party (PT) and PES (both part of his electoral coalition) when it comes to same-sex marriage, to which Obrador simply responded that he would respect LGBTQ+ rights.
Some people may think, “Well, the PES is horrible on social issues, but it must be good on economic ones, right?”. The answer is no.
The PES has supported numerous neoliberal reforms pushed by the Peña Nieto administration, which have pretty much sought to dismantle the state-owned oil company PEMEX. Currently, they are trying to privatize education.
The PES also went into an electoral Coalition with the PRI for the State of Mexico’s gubernatorial Elections which ended in apparent electoral fraud. Just some months ago, many political analysts went so far as to call the PES a “satellite party” of the PRI.
The Social Encounter Party members are also in favor of eliminating public funding for political parties, which would privatize elections and create a system were bribery by corporations would be legal, just like in the United States.
López Obrador has stated why he decided to create a coalition with the PES, a party which only has a 3% support nationally, and he’s said that it is because MORENA “respects all beliefs systems and religions”, that the alliance has a “moral foundation”, and that he does it for the “good of the soul”.
AMLO also plans to give the PES 25% of the coalition’s candidacies, which is a lot considering that MORENA is far more popular than the PES in every way imaginable. López Obrador really wants to win in these elections, but allying with the far-right is not worth it at all. The 3% support that PES will give to MORENA is not enough to justify an alliance with Christian supremacists and even less to throw women’s, LGBTQ+ and secular people’s rights under the bus.
AMLO is up in the polls, by about 14% according to some, and even if he loses, he will be increasing the number of PES politicians in Congress by a lot, considering PES has no senators and only 10 deputies of the 500 that make up the Mexican Chamber of Deputies. The PES is benefiting from the coalition far more than MORENA is, and the only thing that AMLO is doing is alienating leftist voters.
Yes, AMLO has said that he would “respect LGBTQ+ rights”, but that doesn’t mean anything. That statement doesn’t even mean he would legalize same-sex marriage. The only times López Obrador has talked about legalizing same-sex marriage and abortion was when he said he would put a vote on it so people can decide if it should be legal or not, but hey: human rights shouldn’t be put to debate. AMLO even said in 2015 that legalizing same-sex marriage and abortion was “not something important”.
The reason why AMLO is up in the polls is not because “people love his alliance with PES” but because he is literally the lesser of all the evils, considering the other options are the right-wing Catholic PAN, the neoliberal and heavily authoritarian PRI, and three Independent candidates that were part of corrupt political parties (as recently as just a few months ago in the case of Margarita Zavala and Armando Ríos Piter).
People are tired of the current political climate and the traditional political parties (PRI, PAN, and PRD). AMLO should use this to his advantage and show everyone that MORENA isn’t like the other parties. Obrador’s alliances with the PES, PT and former PRI and PAN politicians are turning him into the very thing he sought to destroy.
This article was originally published at Mexelects.com.