With the start of the electoral campaigns, multiple surveys have been published in mass media nationwide regarding political preferences in different countries. Not surprisingly, the majority of those polled opted for Morena.
While there are a large number of Mexicans who are not in favor of the government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and MORENA, we also have another large part that is not only in favor, but their preference has been exacerbated, in some cases to the brink of fanaticism.
To better conceive this logic, we have to understand the Mexican’s idiosyncrasy from a psychological, economic, and social perspective. It seems unbelievable, but today more than ever, that pitiful Mexican saying “Juntos pero no revueltos” (“together, but not mixed up”) applies. That is to say, there is now, perhaps as never before, a polarization that hurts, that penetrates, festering like an open wound.
There is not much we can say about Mexicans that has not already been said or written. From authors such as Samuel Ramos, and his very relevant texts about the identity and psychology of the Mexican, to Octavio Paz and his “Labyrinth of Solitude,” Ricardo Rafael with his “Mirreyes” or the “Psychology of the Mexican” by Rogelio Diaz Guerrero, just to name a few.
Sadly, according to the last census of 2020, in Mexico, the 15 years and older inhabitants have an average of 9.1 grades of schooling, which means a little more than junior high school completed. According to the results of the Reading Module (Molec) 2020, prepared by Inegi, in our country, an average of 3.4 books are read per person per year. However, according to Statista and the Digital 2021 Global Overview Report, Mexicans are, on average, 9 hours connected to the Internet a day.
The lack of reading in general, the basic knowledge, and the enormous time online are factors that indicate that it is easier to influence those with little or no criteria, belonging to a low socioeconomic level. What does is the way Mexicans live. The fundamental reason for the polarization largely achieved by López Obrador comes from the significant difference and even indifference in how Mexicans live according to their socioeconomic level.
According to INEGI’s last count, we are a population of almost 127 million inhabitants. How can we then break down Mexicans by their characteristics and levels? According to their quantitative and qualitative elements, we would have to group them to understand the contrasts between those who come from a family of multi-millionaires, millionaires, rich, upper-middle-class, middle-middle class, and popular levels.
At the top of the pyramid, we have those levels denominated as A/B, C+, – equivalent to 17% of the country’s population – who come from a family with purchasing power, who attend or attended private schools and/or universities, studied abroad, have luxury vehicles in the medium-high range, are treated by private doctors, travel at least a couple of times a year and speak another language. They have access to banking services, credit cards, and those, who the current government dislikes so much, like it or not, are also Mexicans.
Then comes the middle class that has managed to get ahead with so much effort. This middle class includes the majority of those known as “MIPYMES” (Micro, Small and Medium Companies) and the employees of this country, who are the ones who move the economy of our Mexico the most.
Considering the socioeconomic levels described above, we can see that 52% of the country falls within what is known as the “middle class.” This middle class is the one that has suffered the most from the onslaught of the bad governments of this country, and this time, it is no exception. As it could, it survived the populist and corrupt governments of Echeverría and López Portillo, and 12 years later, in the government of Miguel de la Madrid, it had a respite. Unlike Echeverría, Miguel de la Madrid did not “persecute” them or consider them “enemies of the system” for wanting more. From 1982 to 1988, making money in Mexico was no longer a capital sin.
With Salinas de Gortari, the middle class grew thanks to the opening of credit. After a long time, people could have a credit card. They could buy a car or a house. This mirage did not last long. At the end of 1994, the -until then- mother of all economic crises hit Mexico, and it was the middle class who suffered the worst of all falls.
People lost their homes, their cars, their bank accounts, their businesses. The interest on bank loans ate them up. The banks went after them, chased them, and took everything from many of them. Millions of people were forced to take their children out of private schools, left behind club memberships, vacations, traveling. It was the worst nightmare in recent history, but, like a phoenix, it rose from the ashes, shook itself, and started again, they dedicated themselves to work, and from scratch, they began to build their small businesses.
Contrary to what many believe, the middle class gave the triumph to López Obrador and MORENA, but today, it feels uneasy. It did not forgive Peña Nieto for his corrupt acts nor his violence. It continued working and striving to understand that it would be better off with this new government, except that it is not, and now it feels its stability threatened. However, many still believe in López.
AMLO’s government says one thing but does another. In the pandemic, this sizeable middle class was abandoned. There was no support of any kind. Thousands of businesses have closed, they have had to change their consumption habits because there is no income, not even to eat well. Now they are conditioned to have vaccinations, and they are told that there are no medicines in public clinics.
Young people from the middle and lower-middle classes, who with great effort used to attend private schools, cannot continue their studies and will have to opt for the official schools and go to UNAM or the Polytechnic, except that places are limited. As the situation is, they can’t even buy at the tianguis in their neighborhood because they have no income. This is how misery begins to permeate among the classes.
Here is where the “lie repeated a thousand times becomes a truth.” The constant hate speech of the president against “his adversaries” and the “PRIAN” that “ruined” the country is taking shape. The seed of doubt is germinating in the minds of those angry about their situation. Added to this are radio spots, hundreds of thousands of bots -something AMLO denies- whose job is to feed the resentment against those who “destroyed” the country.
Suppose we retake the context of the time Mexicans spend on the Internet and their low level of education and reading, regardless of their socioeconomic level. In that case, we can sadly observe that polarization is growing by leaps and bounds, fueled by resentment. Mexicans against Mexicans, displaying ignorance and intolerance, call each other “fifis,” “whitexicans,” “conservatives,” “fachos,” and conversely, “los chairos,” “los nacos,” “los jodidos,” “los sucios,” “los gatos.” Like fuel to a fire.
Mexico has people at all socioeconomic levels who are prepared, educated and well-informed, committed, and willing to work for the country’s common good. Unfortunately, the numbers show us that they are not the common denominator. They are the fewest.
At the bottom of the pyramid, we can see the crudeness of inequality in Mexico. Those Mexicans barely subsist and are the base of Lopezobrador’s supporters, but before that, they were the PRI’s, making up 31% of Mexico’s total population.
For them, the cancellation of the NAIM or the Mexicali brewery is irrelevant. They applaud AMLO’s recalcitrant nationalism as much as they applaud the flooding in Tabasco. It makes no difference to them whether the head of a ministry is a man or a woman or whether gasoline prices went up or down (because they do not own a car). They view with great sympathy the fact that the president travels in a commercial plane, drives around in a Jetta, has opened Los Pinos to the public, and repeats to exhaustion “we are not the same” since “all the politicians of the past were thieves who plundered the country” of course, not to mention that all the politicians of his party, MORENA, came from the PRI, PAN, PRD, etc. That is to say… they are the same politicians (and thieves) from the past.
This is the base of Mexico that hurts. This base does not give a damn about the successes or failures of the government. They neither know nor understand them. What they do know and understand is that AMLO gives them some kind of scholarship or support. Even those who receive the pension for being senior citizens do not see that AMLO raised the age and, with the elections, lowered it again. With Peña Nieto, they received $800 a month and with AMLO $1,500 bimonthly. They actually received more with Peña Nieto.
These people are indifferent to political speeches. Nothing has changed from then to now. However, phrases such as “Ricky Riquín Canallín,” “we are not equal,” “ya chole,” “fuchi, caca” says a lot to them.
In today’s polarized Mexico, there are two fundamental issues. Little neutral and objective information and infodemia.
The Internet collects everyone’s habits, and according to these, the algorithms give everyone what they consume the most. The more you read or watch videos about López Obrador and MORENA, the more it will provide you about that topic or the other way around.
Let’s face it: Regardless of socioeconomic level, how many people read the newspaper regularly? What do they read? How many seek out other opinions from educated, certified, and well-informed political scientists or analysts? The reality is that very few do.
It is a fact that everyone, from the top of the pyramid to the bottom, clings with all their might to their achievements, the fruit of their work in previous times. For some, Andrés Manuel López Obrador turned out to be that danger so many times mentioned. For others, he is a messiah with divine abilities to change a rotten system without seeing that López himself and those around him are part of that rottenness. No matter how much AMLO says “we are not equal,” the bags of money in the Pío case, the money with full hands for baseball, his cousin’s contracts, Bartlett’s houses, Irma Eréndira’s properties, the contracts granted without bidding, the lack of medicines for the children with cancer, and a long etcetera. The result is a “yes we are the same” and puts this government in the same place as its predecessors, only that in the purest propaganda style of Goebbels in the Nazi regime, the lie repeated a thousand times becomes a truth for the masses.
I end with a reflection based on facts. López Obrador is against the generation of wealth, which makes him an imminent adversary of those who wish to prosper. Regardless of the outcome of the next elections, it will be a clear sign of this. We will see if rancor wins again or the desire to achieve something more. So far, populism continues to advance by leaps and bounds, but along with it, a desperate Mexican society? At all levels.
José E. Urioste Palomeque
April 12, 2020
Times Media Mexico
José E. Urioste is an entrepreneur and professional in “business intelligence” and “Research and Development.” He has been a university professor in the area of market research. He has worked in radio and newspapers, magazines, and digital media, writing on various topics ranging from professional to editorial.