Last Sunday’s mass march organized by the leader of the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) political party Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) had a double purpose.
On the one hand it served as what it was summoned for: to give support to the “political prisoners” now being held by Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration on charges of fraud, money laundering, theft, aggression and you name it.
On the other AMLO definitely kicked off his 2018 presidential campaign with a rally that gathered anywhere — depending on the source — between 17,000 and 100,000 people.
The 17,000 count came from the Mexico City police department, which obeys political mandates from the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) led government, and Morena itself claimed 100,000 people in attendance. Mexican political observers are pretty much used to both figure downsizing and pumping up, so if you place the figure anywhere in between close to about 45,000 you’ll be making a fine guess.
What is a fact is that at least 400 buses carrying an average of 40 persons each came to Mexico City from several states following the traditional “acarreo” or busing system of political backers. Who paid for them? Everyone’s best guess is that Morena did.
The double-nature of the speech made by the keynoter AMLO was the expected one. He first paid heed to the violence incited by his now pals at the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE) union and the violent clash between them and the federal police in the town of Nochixtlán in Oaxaca State.
AMLO blamed the administration of “political repression” on the grounds that the shooting at Nochixtlán left nine people dead and nearly 100 injured. He also said that the several CNTE leaders being held prisoners at a northern Mexico Hermosillo federal penitentiary were there on charges that were trumped up and could not be proven.
In this point perhaps AMLO may be right, as last week the judge in charge of their case granted them bail bond rights. But they were immediately charged with other crimes that had not been there before and though they have the right to freedom, they will be kept in prison until the new charges are cleared up. Their defense lawyer said that no matter what, her defendants would not be set free.
Hence AMLO declared them “political prisoners.”
Once this part of the program was cleared, AMLO set his course on his own political campaign in what is being deemed as his first campaign political rally.
Curiously enough, he did not frontally attack President Peña Nieto the way he usually does, but rather advised him to start preparing as of now for the “presidential transition,” which AMLO predicts will be a rocky one, given that there are signs of “worrisome decomposition” that it is showing nowadays.
AMLO set his target on Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong from whom he demanded his resignation for having sent armed federal policemen to Nochixtlán.
This attack on Secretary Osorio Chong was not for free. At least in the president’s and in his own opinion, Osorio Chong is considered to be the top front-runner to be the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate for the presidential nomination, when the time comes.
Not curiously enough, AMLO did not even mention Education Secretary Aurelio Nuño — yet another PRI hopeful — who has even challenged him to a debate and questioned AMLO’s willingness to back up “criminals” like the CNTE leaders. The opinion on AMLO’s silence on Nuño is that he does not consider him a contender.
The rally also served a third purpose: to firmly position Morena as a solid political party only four years after it was founded as a splinter left-wing movement from the PRD.
This was the first time in which Morena held a rally all on its own without the support of other minor left-wing parties and organizations and within the wide Reforma Boulevard Avenue, where the rally was held with no other banners but those of Morena.
Perhaps the CNTE imprisoned leaders will not be released anytime soon, but AMLO has taken political advantage both in timing and opportunity to take a step ahead and reaffirm his stance that if the 2018 elections were held today, he’d be the winner.
The problem is that anything may happen in the upcoming two years.