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“Ya chole!” is perhaps one of the most heartfelt expressions in the Mexican language. It is a cry of exasperation and impatience that only emerges from the soul when all other strategies and metaphors have been superseded. The best way to translate it into English would be “stop it” or “enough,” but nothing quite captures its essence. This week López Obrador belted it out from the podium of his morning press conferences, as ambitions threaten to fracture his broad but fragile political alliance, ahead of the June 6 mid-term elections.
To put it in context, President López Obrador begged/demanded the “ya chole” to call for a halt to the smear campaigns launched on social media against the imminent candidate of his party (Morena) for the governorship of the state of Guerrero, with the novelty that, this time, the criticisms come from the obradoristas themselves.
The pre-candidate in question is Félix Salgado Macedonio, one of the most grotesque and despicable specimens within the already grotesque and despicable Mexican political class.
Macedonio has been a referent of the Guerrero left for 30 years, but he rose to fame in 2005 when he became mayor of Acapulco. Do you remember Acapulco, that world destination that at one time was an escape and refuge for so many Hollywood stars and that positioned Mexico as a world-class tourist destination and the place that is now basically associated with dirty beaches, organized crime, violence and sex tourism? Well, Acapulco’s decline accelerated precisely with this gentleman in the municipal government.
In a sensible country, someone with the terrible management that Salgado Macedonio had would have become a political pariah, but in Mexico, it was not like that. The guy hung on to the Obrador movement and won the appreciation of the now-president, to the point that he first gave him a seat in the Senate (in 2018) and now the candidacy for governor of Guerrero, an election whose triumph will be practically assured by competing with the Morena party.
For years, there have been more than rumors regarding Salgado Macedonio’s not only for sexist, but criminal behavior, including a rape complaint filed in 2017. Yes, that’s before Morena made him a candidate for the Senate seat he now occupies. Likewise, in 2020, another similar accusation was added and it is precisely these accusations that a part of the ruling party has raised to wrap itself in the feminist flag and launch itself against the grotesque politician from Guerrero, to the annoyance of López Obrador.
Macedonio is indefensible. A guy whose record, files, ineptitude and proposals make him truly toxic for the country, but that is not the reason why he is now in the eye of the hurricane. The accusations against him have been more than well known in the political world for a long time, but were completely ignored until a few weeks ago. To make a long story short, the supposed feminists within AMLO supporters said nothing when Obrador put him in the Senate.
Then the spokespersons of the government showed neither indignation, nor hashtags like #UnVioladorNoSeráGobernador (a rapist will not be governor) or #PresidenteRompaElPacto (president break the pact). Now they do.
More to come?
During the 2018 presidential campaign, Andrés Manuel López Obrador integrated under the same tent PRI members, progressives, the occasional clueless right-winger, some PAN defectors, social leaders, activists, old leftists and other creatures. All these groups worked in relative peace because they were united by the hope that AMLO would open the doors of power to them, and he did.
However, all those political influence loans are beginning to expire, and the problem is that in each region there are multiple leaderships that consider themselves as the legitimate creditors of the municipal and state thrones. They feel that Obrador “owes them” and they are going to collect.
Obrador is facing a difficult situation. On June 6, more than 2,500 elected public offices will be renewed (from municipal presidents to governors), but not even that is enough to get along with all the members of his political alliance. In every municipality and state, he is going to lose face with someone.
The resulting resentment may become the main risk for his political project, the Mexican left has already demonstrated its immense capacity for flattery and fanaticism, as well as the extraordinary speed at which they can turn flattery into contempt and fanaticism into hatred. This is what happened when López Obrador himself snatched the leadership from Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, who in a matter of months went from sacred totem to relic in the cellar.
AMLO exclaims “¡ya chole!” because he is getting desperate in the face of the endless internal conflicts in his alliance, and those conflicts are not only going to continue, they are going to get worse between now and the mid-term elections and then the presidential elections of 2024.
Eventually, AMLO will have to come out in open defense of one of the political groups in his alliance, and at that point, he will be at serious risk of losing the loyalty of all the others. Indeed, while the opposition is still lost in the limbo of its technocracy, the greatest risk for López is hidden under the acronym of his own party. That is why Obrador shouts, “Ya chole!”
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”