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AMLO Pushes Mexico to the Edge of Absurdity

Imagen: Unsplash

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Mexico is sliding towards the precipice of absurdity, as President López Obrador continues to push with each new whim that defies logic and submits everything to the tastes or dislikes of the National Palace. That danger is becoming a regional threat.

Mariachis and tequila

The absurd is a desperate and dangerous land, where all the certainties of the ordinary world vanish and become confused in a cloud of whims, where there is no up or down, day or night, no right or wrong, beyond the taste of the caudillo, who has become the owner of data, lives, and the property of each of his subjects, who live with the pressure of authoritarianism, coupled with the permanent discomfort of madness.

The absurdity grows stronger in Mexico as the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador accumulates decisions that are not only politically or administratively debatable, but also rationally incomprehensible.

Last week there were two very clear examples. The first was the absurd defense deployed by Andrés Manuel López Obrador in favor of Félix Salgado Macedonio, (the Morena candidate accused of rape and abuse by several women) with the subsequent silence or poorly disguised resignation of many radical feminists affiliated with officialdom.

The second example was a report prepared by the Superior Audit Office of the Federation, where a cost of more than US$16,000 million (331,000 million pesos) is pointed out as a direct consequence of the cancellation of the new Mexico City Airport (NAIM), a world-class public work that was one of those that President Peña Nieto began to build, and whose first stage was well advanced when López Obrador decided to suspend the work.

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At the time, AMLO explained that the cancellation of the airport was due to serious cases of corruption in the design and construction of the NAIM, which would be punished by his government, and projected that canceling it would amount to a cost of US$5 billion (100 billion pesos). More than two years later there is not a single person in jail for the alleged acts of corruption that the President had denounced, and now we learn that the cost to the country to not have a world-class airport is more than triple what was originally announced.

In fact, considering that NAIM’s budget was approximately US$14 billion (285 billion pesos), canceling it was significantly more expensive than finishing it. It’s like paying $40,000 for a $33,000 Mustang convertible, and not getting to drive it,

Even worse. While the costs of canceling NAIM will come fully out of the federal budget, most of the investment for the airport was private. Obrador even acknowledged that Carlos Slim offered to take over the investment. In other words, Mexico could have had a world-class airport almost “for free,” and in any case much cheaper than the cancellation cost.

However, Andrés Manuel, as a good caudillo of the land of the absurd, is not interested in what is reasonable, but in his whim; so he cancelled the work and ordered a new airport, but at the old Santa Lucía Air Base, in the State of Mexico. This opens another abyss to absurdity, because the airport built by López Obrador in Santa Lucía will be much smaller than Peña Nieto’s, and will have to operate in parallel with two other airports, increasing the risk of accidents, according to aeronautical experts, which puts its international certification at risk.

Therefore, AMLO’s airport will end up as a white elephant or in any case a death trap for domestic flights, whose passengers will be subjected to the dramatic possibility of an accident and absurdly long transfer times, since (on a busy day) the new airport is almost three hours from downtown Mexico City. Meanwhile, the government let the old airport works be flooded, in an attempt to destroy them, so that if Obrador loses the 2024 elections, subsequent governments will not be able to resume work on NAIM. It is the political equivalent of spitting out lunch before sharing it.

In short, Mexico could have had “almost for free” a world-class international airport, which would position the country as a continental transportation hub, but instead, much more money will be paid in exchange for an ugly, dangerous and useless airport.

Obrador, betting on the absurd, whatever the cost. Image: EFE
Absurd authoritarianism

This was an absurdity, but it is not the only one, because he has accumulated many other absurdities in vaccines, the health system, and countless public policies where the government has acted guided by incomprehensible his whims, which have even triggered the alert of companies and authorities in the United States and Canada.

An authoritarian but rational government would have accepted the businessmen’s proposal to build NAIM (and would have taken credit for the cost savings); a rational government would have kept social programs (also taking the credit for itself) instead of destroying them to create others that do not even work in order to buy votes. An authoritarian but rational government would be less of an issue in that it would at least provide a logical framework from which to negotiate and fight politically.

On the contrary, López Obrador is betting on consolidating himself as the caudillo of the absurd, acting more out of whim than out of interest; more like a whining child than a traditional Machiavellian villain. And in the height of the implausible, his ruling party has the potential to win in the mid-term elections. It is, in a word, absurd.

Gerardo Garibay Camarena, is a doctor of law, writer and political analyst with experience in the public and private sectors. His new book is "How to Play Chess Without Craps: A Guide to Reading Politics and Understanding Politicians" // Gerardo Garibay Camarena es doctor en derecho, escritor y analista político con experiencia en el sector público y privado. Su nuevo libro es “Cómo jugar al ajedrez Sin dados: Una guía para leer la política y entender a los políticos”