Over time, it has changed its name countless times. Its use dated back to Roman times and was used to convey religious messages. Its original name was “propagare” which means “to propagate, extend, be divulged.” However, the word “propagare” has also been used as a synonym for exaggeration, falsehood, and abuse; it means “Propaganda.”
Propaganda, as such, means expansion, dissemination, rapid multiplication. It consists of the launching of a series of messages that seeks to influence the system of values of the citizen and his or her conduct. We can say that propaganda, like everything else, is not bad; what is wrong is the use to which it is put.
Throughout history, there have been many men and women who have dazzled the masses with speeches of change so that once they come to power, they become even worse than that system or government they overthrew.
In Nazi Germany, Joseph Goebbels elaborated a series of principles based on others that already existed and perfected them, for the handling of propaganda that, as starting points, are still in force today.
Most of the leaders who have carried out this methodology have the same in common. They are potential dictators, and their behavior has been studied over and over again. Rivers of ink have been spilled on this, but the saddest thing is that no one seems to learn from history. “He who does not know history are condemned to repeat it,” says an old saying, and in Mexico, we are going that way.
Andrés Manuel López Obrador seems to be following “The Dictator’s Manual” or to explain better. He has built his bases and his system of government based on a compilation of strategies and tactics that historically have been followed by dictators around the world.
References, unfortunately, there are too many. From Khorloogiin Choibalsan in Mongolia, Ramfis Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, through Stalin, Hitler, or the always known Latin American dictatorial governments like Cuba or Venezuela, to name a few. All of them followed a pattern that sought the same thing: to perpetuate themselves in power through submission and indoctrination.
Below I list some of the maneuvers Andrés Manuel López followed to perpetuate himself in power.
AMLO correctly uses Goebbels’ “Principle of simplification and the single enemy,” by adopting a single idea, a single symbol, and individualizing the adversary into an only enemy. In our country, this “scapegoat” are the “conservatives,” also called by AMLO “fifis.” An archaic way of referring to people with money. Originally the only enemy was “the mafia in power,” which today is part of his government.
AMLO pits Mexicans every day against the poor. “The “fifis,” the “conservatives,” the “neoliberals,” who are guilty of all evils and are enemies of the “Pueblo Bueno” -or the “righteous people.”
Another principle widely used by this “Four-T” government is control of the mass media through fear. Every time a journalist questions AMLO or his government’s actions, thousands of bots are launched against him. It has reached the point where these bots publicly post the journalist’s home address, private phone number, and family information. Besides, the president, in his morning conferences, devotes himself to denouncing these “fifi” journalists and the mass media.
This week he said: “There is no professional, independent journalism in Mexico.” AMLO wants the media, both public and private, to be subject to presidential power. Submissive media that applaud and do not question.
Reporters without Borders in its 2020 report places Mexico as one of the “most dangerous places in the world to practice journalism.
For a dictator to be able to perpetuate himself in power, he requires two things:
A. Money. That’s why they want AFORES -private retirement funds- to be run by AMLO’s “Welfare Bank.” We’re talking about billions of pesos—an enormous amount of resources.
B. Total power and control. Currently, the Lopez government has authority in Congress, and it is a constant to see how it is desperately trying to also control the Judicial Branch which day in and day out also persecutes, defames and slanders. Similarly, it goes against the electoral authority and the autonomy of the Bank of Mexico. That’s why he wants to control the airport, he wants a train to create supply logistics, and he wants the refineries. He wants the government to provide the Internet, be a bank, have universities and hospitals. He wants to control everything.
Like all autocrats, Andrés Manuel López Obrador seeks what is known as “The cult of personality,” a concept influenced by Nikita Khrushchev in 1956, which is an elevation to almost religious or sacred dimensions of charismatic leaders in society or politics. Hence, the mornings are used as a holy pulpit where AMLO is presented as a divine figure. A savior to the homeland on the verge of the abyss. For this, he uses his “sidekicks” such as the “first row journalists” who exalt his image, and this is exacerbated by comments such as the one from Undersecretary of Health, López Gatell, who affirmed that AMLO would not be infected by COVID-19 since “his strength is moral and not contagious”. (SIC)
Indoctrination is key to perpetuating the dictator. Indoctrination equals vows. That is why 400 billion pesos are allocated to social programs that are delivered without any control, and that are gigantic acts of propaganda and vote-buying. That is why we see the grotesque alliances of AMLO and MORENA with the disgusting teachers’ unions that have done so much damage to the country. This guarantees indoctrination in the classrooms of the children, who will vote in the future.
In this methodology, multiple other points this government follows to the letter, such as acts of terrorism and violence to control the masses. To this end, the “four-t” government prefers to make use of what exists and refuses outright to confront organized crime. The latest official report indicates that in March there were 2,585 intentional homicides, representing a daily average of 83 murders per day nationwide. In February, the figure was 2,352 homicides.
Everyone in Mexico and the world remembers when AMLO ordered the release of Chapo Guzmán’s son and the deference to the capo’s mother. Anywhere else, that would be an indication of an alliance between power and crime. Except in Mexico, because the president says so.
We can’t ignore two fundamental factors. Payment of favors to the elites, a clear example is Salinas Pliego the third richess man in Mexico, who has been favored time and time again by this government – without putting aside the thousands of public works and contracts without bidding – and of course… the lie.
“A lie repeated a thousand times becomes a truth?” Andrés Manuel is the king of lies and half-truths. In his morning conferences, 56% of what he claims is false or misleading.
Mexico today faces a man who has promised to fight corruption, but his government is opaque. He has pledged to respect human rights, but he belittles the feminist movements, the LGBTQ community, activists, and environmentalists. A man who talks about law and justice, but releases prisoners, pressures the Judicial Powers and is the first to break the law. A man who cries out for “well being”, but instead of creating jobs and opportunities, he attacks Mexican businessmen and puts them up against the wall. That same man is the one who has promised not to “re-elect” himself and not to perpetuate himself in power.
Perhaps many will believe him… not me.
José E. Urioste Palomeque
For The Yucatan Times / Times Media Mexico
Merida Yucatan, Mexico
April 24, 2020
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