Home Columns OPINION: Mexican presidential debates: Constructive Discussion or Bad Joke?

OPINION: Mexican presidential debates: Constructive Discussion or Bad Joke?

by Yucatan Times
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The second Mexican presidential debate was held on May 20, 2018, in Tijuana, Baja California, across the border from San Diego, California.  The location in a border city was no accident, as the debate, entitled “Mexico in the World,” focused on the border, immigration, U.S.-Mexican relations, and of course President Donald J. Trump, who almost seemed like a presence in the room his name was invoked so much, usually negatively.

The four participants were:

  1. JOSE ANTONIO MEADE KURIBREÑA of the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional), in coalition with two smaller parties: The Green Party (Partido Verde Ecologista de México) and the Partido Nueva Alianza, the PNA or PANAL.  The coalition is called Todos por México (Everybody for Mexico).
  2. RICARDO ANAYA CORTES of the PAN (Partido Acción Nacional), in coalition with the leftist PRD (Partido de la Revolución Democrática) and the smaller Movimiento Ciudadano (Citizen Movement), to form the coalition Por México al Frente (For Mexico to the Front).

3.           ANDRES MANUEL LOPEZ OBRADOR (AMLO), candidate of the party he himself founded, MORENA (Movimiento Regeneración Nacional), in coalition with Partido del Trabajo, the Labor Party (PT) and PES (Partido Encuentro Social) to form the coalition Juntos haremos historia (Together we will make History).

4.      JAIME HELIODORO RODRIGUEZ CALDERON, better known as “EL BRONCO.”  Independent, no party.

We watched the debate from our living room in the United States.  I took notes, and in the next few days watched it all again on video, translating much of it into English. I include time notations based on this video of the debate. The time notation given is usually the beginning of the candidate’s segment, you might have to watch a few minutes to get to the actual citation.

Of course, there were certain dynamics playing out between the candidates based on their relative positions in the polls.

AMLO was attacked the most, mostly by Anaya, but also by Meade.  After all, AMLO is the front-runner, thus the big target.  AMLO recognized this, saying “the debate is to attack me, we are 25 points ahead in the polls….  I’m not going to be provoked.” (19:42)

There was also some conflict between Anaya and Meade.

As for BRONCO, he couldn’t get anybody to attack him.  And he tried, constantly saying how the parties won’t solve Mexico’s problems.

Quoting BRONCO: “Do you think any of these three can do the job of president?  They’ve spent the whole debate fighting each other.  If you notice, they haven’t said anything to me.” (1:45)

Of course they didn’t.  BRONCO is last in the polls.  The other three think it’s a waste of time to attack him.

As for Margarita, she wasn’t there, having just dropped out, but Meade made a shout out to her supporters by mentioning her, “something Margarita said in the previous debate and it’s very important.” (1:04)

AMLO mentioned the “Mafia de Poder” again and again, seemingly when he didn’t know what else to say.  AMLO did specifically say that Anaya and Meade are part of the “Mafia de Poder.”  Maybe before July 1st, AMLO should write down a list of everybody that’s part of the “Mafia de Poder” so there is no doubt of exactly who is and isn’t in it.

Although AMLO was generally calm, he was provoked to excoriatingly call Anaya “Ricky Riquín Canallín,” and then he repeated the same insult. (1:40)

Then there was the Proceso war.  AMLO held up a copy of Proceso magazine portraying ANAYA over a corruption accusation. So, Anaya immediately responded by holding up – with a big smile on his face – a poster with two Proceso covers; one portraying AMLO and another portraying Meade, both for corruption accusations. (1:41)

Trump and Trump administration immigration policies were big targets as the candidates vowed to protect Mexicans in the United States.  None of the candidates, however, seemed to recognize that if Mexicans are residing in the United States, then they are going to have to abide by U.S. laws or they can expect to have problems.

AMLO, presented in the U.S. media as the most radical, actually admitted to agreeing with Trump twice, once on Mexican corruption and once on the U.S.-Mexican salary disparity (36:25).

The “Trump wall” was criticized, Anaya for example called it an “absurd wall.”  On the other hand, Anaya complained about weapons crossing the border from the U.S. to Mexico, and a more secure border ought to help on that front.

Meade too said, “we have to take care of the border so weapons don’t cross….” (56:14)

In the discussion of Central American and other illegal aliens passing through Mexico, Meade was the only candidate to bring up churches, saying, “The churches are great partners … and they can help us much.” (1:15)

AMLO, the oldest candidate [64], says he is in good health, and that “I still like to bat. I bat above 300.” (1:54)

For a funny “remix” of the debate, click here.



Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at http://www.allanwall.info

DISCLAIMER: The opinions hereby are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Yucatan Times.

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