Mexico’s great gamble: Trump plays poker, but AMLO plays chess


Juan Carlos Lara

The faith of both leaders, TRUMP, and AMLO are dependent on each other.

Mr. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, better known as AMLO, is a confident politician that lived and slept on the floor of crumbled homes in rural Mexico before rising to the challenge of the Mexican presidency and to combat corruption in multidimensional ways starting with big oil companies. 

He went to war against the immense network of business, politicians and criminal gangs, who have been bleeding Mexico for the last 80 years. AMLO today represents purpose not only for Mexicans but for Latin Americans as well, he represents the hope to be part of something better, for the rich and the poor. The game is on, and stakes are high!

In July 2019, AMLO acknowledges that he received a country with an unsustainable economic model, and probably on the verge of collapse. A magical land with a perverse disparity, while one-part was bright with a trillion-dollar economy, the other was in darkness, with more than 50% of its population living in poverty. Mexico is at the bottom of most OECD metrics; corruption, bullying, femicide, sexual violence, assassinations, inequality, and even tax revenue. To put it mildly, all government institutions were rotten to the core, and corruption is rampant.


The Washington Post has said on several occasions that AMLO is the Mexican Trump and, at the same time, compares the AMLO administration to Venezuela and Cuba. No surprise, given the highly respected media organizations have skewed to the extreme left and is no fan of a populist. According to the Post’s own words, populist-fueled fragmentation is terrible news for democracy. Its’ corporate ideology blurs cognitive thoughts for the comprehension of a complex reality.

To understand AMLO populist approach, we must understand resent history. Neoliberalism in the 20th-century was a progression of the 19th-century ideas of laissez-fair economic liberalism. In the developed world of the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan lead the economic liberalization policies and implemented privatization, austerity, deregulation, and free trade effectively. In Mexico, the model was tropicalized with a twist; democracy was an illusion, institutions were fragile, and the despoiling of government by the governing classes created a profound disrespect for the law from all sides.
Mismanagement and corruption became tangible. Corruption progressed, to no longer an aspect of Mexican political life; corruption became its purpose. Friends and family took over newly privatized conglomerates. The result was slower growth, decreasing equality, increasing criminal violence, and the development of an underclass with no future and no hope.

Before AMLO won the elections, and even today, the media and Mexico’s governing class warned voters that AMLO was a crazy radical who would drive Mexico into a Venezuela-like economic fiasco. Of course, these are the same guys who had hailed each of the last five most corrupt neoliberal presidents—Carlos Salinas, Ernesto Zedillo, Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderón, and Enrique Peña Nieto—as “honest reformers.”

AMLO economic vision includes economic improvement for the poor -in a country where more than 50% are poor-, development of new infrastructure, rebuilding of the police, the judicial system, and much of the civil service from the ground up. He holds town meetings and conducts polls to get citizen feedback, and it is the first time in the history of Mexico that people outside the governing class, has ever been asked.


Mexico’s labor force is about 52.8 million. The OECD and WTO both rank Mexican workers as the hardest-working people in the world! A positive title hard to win.

One of the most visible wars AMLO has taken has been the frontal intervention in Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) and went to war against politicians, criminal gangs, and businesses that had been bleeding the biggest national company at the rate of more than 60,000 barrels of gas daily. He shut down illegally tapped pipelines or Huachicol as locals call it, sent in the army to stop gasoline delivering to the black market, sent the Federales to find out the deceitful accounting books, and brought criminal charges against corrupt managers.

Gas supplies dropped across Mexico, frustrated motorists could not fill their tanks, freight shipments stopped, and tourism plunged. The Mexican and international media screamed that AMLO was destroying the economy; within weeks, everything was fine.

At a time when inequality is no longer sustainable, and neoliberal wisdom has been tossed out with the trash, most of Latin America is moving to the right. Mr. López Obrador is an unabashed man of the left, but wise enough to understand that his economic and political rhetoric must be refurbished for the future, and must move to the right, in the right direction.

Today AMLO has alliances with the most respectful entrepreneurial associations, has strong bonds with Latin Americans, Europeans, and the USA government. He is recognized by international organizations such as the United Nations and the World Bank for his undeniable commitment to raise Mexicans out of poverty. Most Mexican entrepreneurs are positively convinced.

The line is clear, economic development and no corruption. However, here is a doubt. Will AMLO have the political will to enforce the law to a tiny part yet, highly toxic Mexican elite? Paradoxically this might create havoc since their economic and political power is immense in the swamp of the bureaucracy.

On the other hand, he can defer to a cordial yet not welcome pardon. In ways such as this, AMLO’s administration could be a game-changer, not only for Mexico but for Latin America and for the U.S. where economic development and immigration are high on the multilateral agenda. The risks of having so much depended on one leader are real, but If AMLO makes it, we all make it!.

Juan Carlos LaraPoint5 Family Office, ESG-LAB, Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime