Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Fallout from AMLO's Break with the PRD

The exit of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador from the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) was judged to be relatively unsurprising, even as it calls the future of Mexico’s left into question.

The Wall Street Journal called Lopez Obrador’s decision “a definitive break” with the PRD, and noted that the two have had a tense relationship since the Obrador-incited mass street protests in 2006. The fact that many prominent members of the PRD have pledged to work with president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration, even as Lopez Obrador has refused to recognize the election results, likely further deepened the divide between the party and Lopez Obrador.

The political movement that Lopez Obrador founded in 2010, known as Morena, will likely be registered as his new political party in the near future. Proceso has a breakdown of Morena’s ideological platform, and reports that the movement officially has nearly five million affiliates. Along with the approximate 16 million votes that Lopez Obrador earned in the July elections, this could make Morena a political force to be reckoned with in the next elections, Proceso argues. Still, as analyst James Bosworth points out:

 “It's hard to say what Morena will accomplish because AMLO often fails to    follow up on his promises. Remember that in 2006 he named himself "legitimate president" and promised to serve out a six year term with a shadow government to contrast Calderon? He completely gave up that charade after a few months. Those trying to predict what Morena will mean for the 2018 presidential election should keep that experience in mind.”

One question is what Obrador’s exit means for the future of the PRD. In a press conference, the party president affirmed that “the PRD existed before Andres Manuel is what he is today. The left is much more than Andres Manuel.” As El Universal reports, other PRD leaders insisted that the split with Obrador was an amicable one.

The LA Times notes that the break with the PRD could bring political benefits for the party, arguing that

“...his withdrawal also allows the mainstream left to proceed without a figure that was increasingly polemical. Lopez Obrador was at times erratic and confrontational on the campaign trail, and he alienated many of the more centrist voters whom he needed to win the election.”

Lopez Obrador’s most likely successor as the PRD’s most visible politician and potential presidential candidate is Mexico City mayor Marcelo Ebrard. He is viewed as having more widespread appeal that Obrador, although he was not able to garner the political support needed to win the party’s nomination as presidential candidate for 2012. But this will likely change now that Lopez Obrador has officially severed ties with the party.



News Briefs
  • The New York Times on Ecuador’s reaction on the Julian Assange affair, speaking with ordinary citizens as well as an Ecuadorean family, the Illingtons, who are descendents of an Englishman who fought Spain during Latin America's independence wars. The Times describes the diverse reactions to President Rafael Correa’s decision to grant Assange asylum, noting that in “butting heads with Britain, Mr. Correa both stirred a sense of national pride and confirmed some skeptics’ views of him.”
  • Reuters reports on the revival of political movement Movadef, an arm of the Shining Path guerrilla group. The news agency argues that leftist voters dissatisfied with President Ollanta Humala’s administration could help bolster Movadef’s growth, even though for now the movement is a relatively limited one. 
  • Venezuela has begun the formal process of withdrawing from the Organization of American States’ (OAS) human right convention, reports the AP
  • The US has refused a request from Bolivia to extradite former president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, who ordered a massacre of indigenous protesters in 2003 and who is currently in exile in the US, reports Democracy Now. Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian has a useful critical overview of the case, noting that Lozada was once one of the staunchest US allies in the region, and that the US refusal of Lozada’s extradition request is “a classic and common case of the US exploiting pretenses of law and justice to protect its own leaders and those of its key allies from the rule of law, even when faced with allegations of the most egregious wrongdoing.”
  • On the 39th anniversary of the coup against Chilean president Salvador Allende, the judiciary has officially closed the investigation into his death, which was ruled a suicide, reports El Mundo
  • The AP reports that El Salvadoran war crime suspect, former general Inocente Montano, is expected to plead guilty in a US federal court to making false statements to immigration authorities, in order to gain protected status in the US. Montano is believed to have been involved in the murder of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador in 1989, a killing that drew widespread attention from the international community during the civil war. As a result of the current legal case, Montano could possibly be deported back to El Salvador, but he is also wanted in Spain to stand trial for the priests’ murder.
  • The peace movement led by Mexican activist Javier Sicilia has arrived in DC, reports the AFP.