It’s worrisome to watch how Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto insists on going down a collision course against left wing presidential hopeful Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO).
But why does he do that? What’s going on?
Last Tuesday at the Campo Marte polo grounds, under a humongous tent, the President summoned several thousand people who work in the Mexican military to praise them and literally put himself at their service for whatever they may need.
His main target was again the unmentionable AMLO. The President devoted most of his speech attacking “those” who criticize the unpolluted behavior of the Mexican Army.
“As President of the Republic and Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, I am the first one to condemn those expressions that have condemned members of our Armed Forces and have discredited Mexico. Our Armed Forces wear the uniform of the nation with pride and a sense of loyalty, they are the living representation of the country and their job is to look after Mexico every day,” he said.
In a routine speech it would not come as a surprise to hear the President say this, and much more, on behalf the nation’s soldiers. His speech, however, was not a normal one as the gathering was put together on a last minute basis and much praise was given for “our soldiers, pilots and marines” who have been given the unfathomable task of replacing local police departments in many a municipality to combat organized criminals.
But again, and President Peña Nieto is being naïve on this, has he ever heard of subliminal advertising? The event was televised via satellite to the 11 Military Regions and according to official National Defense Secretariat (Sedena) figures it was watched by 80,564 persons, including 32,000 career soldiers, pilots and navy personnel many of whom were joined by their families.
In this particular speech, important because of the presence of many military officers, President Peña for a change did not mention the word “populism” but throughout his defense of the performance of the soldiers on the streets of Mexico, the President was unwittingly doing AMLO a favor.
The very relevant question is, who were the soldiers — present and on TV — thinking about? Peña Nieto? No, AMLO, and in short, that is the greatest subliminal advertising the presidential hopeful can hope for as I have pointed at in previous articles.
But beware, who is listening besides the Armed Forces audience? Well, AMLO himself.
While the President spoke, AMLO was in Laredo, Texas, and listening. Almost immediately after the speech he told a small crowd that “Peña Nieto and his assistants” want to confront him with the Armed Forces “but soldiers are the people in uniform and we have a great relationship with them.”
AMLO fired his own broadsides against the Presidential schooner saying: “Peña is extremely nervous because he has a high rejection index by Mexicans; people are in discontent with him and the place where there is the greatest discontent is the State of Mexico where Morena is way up in electoral preference.”
It’s a fact that Peña Nieto wants to win the State of Mexico upcoming elections “at any price” as he was the past state governor, but also because if his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Alfredo del Mazo loses the election, the defeat will be seen as a precognition of the PRI’s defeat in the 2018 presidential elections.
“That’s why Peña Nieto is behaving like a group chief, as the chief of a political party; in those terms I call upon him to collect him, to cool down and to respect the will of the people of the State of Mexico,” said López Obrador.
AMLO didn’t miss the occasion to call out the PRI as crooks: “It’s very clear the people don’t want their corruption and they have overdone themselves and that’s why people are fed up with corrupt politicians.”
But AMLO has been saying this for the past 17 years since he first ran for Mexico City Mayor and won.
The problem now is that Peña Nieto, to use a term he often uses, is thickening and enriching AMLO’s soup (“le está haciendo el caldo gordo”, in Spanish) and every time he does, the winner is AMLO.
Every time the President or his staff mention something like that, people know who he’s talking about. And that’s exactly what AMLO keeps begging for, more subliminal advertising.