Liberation Road

A Challenge to ‘Open Borders’ — for Corruption

The weekly newsletter of the México Solidarity Project

August 11, 2021/ This week’s issue/ Meizhu Lui, for the editorial team

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, right at the start of his administration, famously issued three simple commandants to elected Morena officials: “Do not steal, do not lie, and do not betray.” Previous presidents from the PRI had operated by a different set of precepts. They stole, lied, and betrayed with impunity. 

In our interview this week, Kurt Hackbarth explains how those corrupt practices enabled the PRI to stay in power for most of a century. PRI presidents stole public dollars to enrich their friends, who promptly filled PRI campaign war chests with good chunks of those same dollars. Lying about vote tallies also helped ensure PRI rule, as did betraying those who challenged PRI corruption — as well as innocent people in the wrong place at the wrong time — through torture and murder. An ugly story.

US politicians have down through the years routinely feigned horror at the level of violence in México. But these same pols simply shrug at the source of the weapons that enable that homicidal violence: US gun companies. Corporate profits apparently matter more than lives lost. Defending the “right to bear arms” trumps any defense of democracy.

AMLO has now filed suit against US gun companies for failing to conduct background checks on gun sellers in México. The chances of that suit actually winning in US courts? Close to zero. But like the August 1 Mexican referendum on whether criminally corrupt ex-presidents should face prosecution, the gun-seller suit serves a purpose. Bringing the suit lifts up the complicity of US gun companies for all to see.

The Mexican people have had enough of corruption. They have voted overwhelmingly for AMLO and his do-not-steal-lie-betray governing principles. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, they understand, cannot thrive without them.

The bilingual freelance journalist Kurt Hackbarth, a naturalized Mexican citizen, writes from a left perspective. His analyses of Mexican politics provide a welcome antidote to the “news” we read in the mainstream US and Mexican media, as he shows in this q-and-a we just did with him on the significance of the national referendum held earlier this month on bringing past Mexican presidents to justice.

Power plays by self-enriching politicians — at the people’s expense — have been as common as mud down through history. Do you see anything unique about México’s history of political corruption?

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