ANDPresident Andrés Manuel López Obrador promised, both during the campaign and at the beginning of his government, an authentic regime change, in which what would be radically modified would be the relationship that existed between political and economic power. To that extent, having already passed two thirds of the constitutional period of his mandate, he is already beginning the analysis of what will be his legacy to the country in that mission.
What is worrying in this matter is that the regime change did not take place in terms of a greater democratization of the country; On the contrary, the Executive decided to exercise power from one of the most vertical versions of Mexican presidentialism in recent decades. Indeed, the main task that the president has assumed is to concentrate more and more power in order to guarantee room for maneuver and decision-making capacity for his project.
From this perspective, the president decided to exercise power from a single vision of the country, thus denying the enormous plurality and diversity of visions that exist in the national territory, from a rhetoric that seeks to unify in vision and purpose what he calls the “popular will”, imposing the logic of the unique thought.
In economic terms, there have been no relevant transformations either. Rather, neoliberal policies were radicalized: the amount of money transferred directly to people increased, and the strictest macroeconomic orthodoxy was maintained, also denying the possibility of a comprehensive tax reform that would guarantee progressivity and resolve structurally the anemia of public finances.
In what yes there is a radical change, and that would imply in a relevant way a central component for a change of regime, is the structural modification of the nature, organic structure and functions of the armed forces in the country. And this goes far beyond the recently debated issue of the presence of the Mexican Army and Navy in public security tasks in all the streets of the country.
The issue that is associated with the above is the construction of a new military-industrial complex that could be terribly detrimental to Mexican democracy. Well, if the initial purpose of the government was to separate political power from economic power, paradoxically now a new logic of economic-military power unprecedented in the history of our country is merging.
The subject has different edges. The first of these is related to direct control, which includes the administrative, budgetary and operational aspects in areas that in most democracies are under the control of civil power: administration and operation of airports; administration and operation of merchant ports; and customs administration and operation. And if things continue as they are, soon we would also be facing the military operation of a commercial airline for passenger transport.
The second edge is having turned the Army into a direct competitor in the construction industry: it was commissioned to build the AIFA; from the Dos Bocas refinery; of the Mayan train, the Trans-Isthmic Corridor and an already countless amount of public works that range from branches of the Banco de Bienestar, to highways and roads in different regions of the country.
Finally, the third edge is the military itself, since the Army continues to manage companies and activities of its original constitutional nature, and that range from the production of weapons, to its importation, commercialization and regulation in the national territory.
The foregoing implies a double source of resources for the Armed Forces: on the one hand, what comes from the public budget, and on the other, the generation of new resources from the commercial businesses that have been commissioned, which include, of course, AIFA’s income, as well as what is generated in the companies that are being assigned to it.
On this second edge there is greater complexity, since the Army, as an operator of commercial companies, will be in direct relationship with economic agents of various kinds, of which it will be a creditor, supplier and buyer. But that implies that it will enter into a negotiation logic that, in the first place, opens up the possibility of various fronts of corruption, but for the private sector, the difficulty of negotiating with uniformed and armed personnel. In other words, negotiating with a military person implies negotiating with someone who carries rank and weapons, and that represents an anomalous singularity for the functioning of the economy.
In his farewell message, US President Dwight Eisenhower warned the American nation and President Kennedy: “In government councils, we must be vigilant against the development of undue influence, whether intended or not, from the military-industrial complex. Circumstances exist and will exist that will make it possible for powers to arise in the wrong places, with disastrous effects.” And in another passage he argues regarding the military-industrial complex: “Its total influence (economic, political, even spiritual) is palpable in every city, every state parliament, every department of the federal government.”
President López Obrador has chosen the path of militarism as an essential mark of his government. And no matter how much it maintains in its daily propaganda apparatus that there is no militarization of the country, the truth is that “we are not equal” is not enough to avoid the temptation of powers that continue to act in the country, try to perniciously influence this new militaristic logic in which Mexico finds itself.
One of the greatest responsibilities of President López Obrador is to guarantee the validity and survival of the democratic rule of law; and for that to happen, more and more citizenship is necessary; more and more conditions of peace and civilized coexistence; and more and more democratizing pedagogies of national public life; and in the opposite direction, what is urgent is less crime and violence; less corruption; less institutional and fiscal fragility of the State; and less military presence on the streets.
We are facing one of the most complex aspects of action for the remainder of this administration; and if the President makes mistakes in it, the consequences for our country can be not only dire, but also incalculable.