Manuel -name changed to preserve the interviewee’s identity- defines himself as a “revolutionary thinker in favor of El Pueblo -The People-“. He has around 2,000 followers on Twitter, around 800 friends on Facebook, and his TikTok account, around another 2,000 followers. His social networks are full of messages in favor of AMLO and his government, and against Claudio X, Felipe Calderon, the PRIAN, Salinas de Gortari, the “ultra-right wing capitalist secret societies” to overthrow AMLO among many, many others and uses hashtags like #fachos #derechangos #whitexicans #PrietoPower.
Manuel is everything AMLO has expressed his hatred for on countless occasions. He is white, upper middle class, and educated in a private Christian school. He studied part of his professional career outside of Mérida at a prestigious private university, where he was expelled for attending more parties than classes. He returned to Mérida and ended up in a government faculty. Manuel’s family are businesspeople from several generations back. In other words, he is far from poor; however, he receives money from the government in various forms of support, but he prefers not to tell me the exact amount.
Manuel and I have known each other for a long time. We were good friends before each became hopelessly tied to what we had chosen politically. He is convinced that Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is the “Mexican messiah,” I believe he is as false, corrupt, and nefarious as the politicians emanating from the rancid PRI of the last century. We decided to put aside our differences momentarily to work on this article.
Unfortunately, in Mexico, this phenomenon of leaving our differences behind is becoming less common every day. On the contrary, every day, it is becoming more evident among friends or relatives to cut off a relationship because of their political beliefs. From his morning pulpit, the president sends his pontification to his followers, who take it without filter, without doubt, and in general, always the same speech.
The wrongdoers of everything are always others. There is a whole list that starts with the “unmentionable” Carlos Salinas (SIC), the “prianistas,” the neoliberalists, passing through the “mafia of power,” Claudio X, and ending with Felipe Calderón as the father of all that is evil and profane. A sort of contemporary Mexican Lucifer, tempting Mexican souls and trying to destroy the goodness emanating from the Macuspana messiah. According to AMLO, everyone is in cahoots against him, and millions of Mexicans -among them Manuel- are convinced of it.
The 100 million pesos question (which that amount of money is “nothing” according to AMLO) is: Why do so many people blindly believe in his words? To that end, I would like to quote an opinion piece published in 2010 in the New York Times, where Roger Cohen stated that “minds turn to conspiracy theory because it is the last refuge of the powerless. If you can’t change your own life, it must be that some larger force controls the world.”
To the above, I attach a concept by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Warner Klemp from “The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership,” who states that human beings have three basic needs – approval, security, and control – and when the needs for approval and security are insufficient, control is their last resort.
Lopez Obrador is a master in manipulating and offering refuge to the powerless by selling the idea that “a greater force” controls Mexico. This, coupled with his perverse narcissistic personality that takes pleasure in his self-aggrandizement and the destruction of what others have built, attracts people who feel powerless, disenfranchised, and oppressed. It uses their hope and hopelessness as weapons to denigrate the enemy, accusing them and holding them responsible for all problems. Be it corruption, ineptitude, bribery, violence… you name it. Someone else can be blamed, not his government. Let us not forget that from Hitler and the nazi regime, humankind learned “that the bigger the lie, the more people will embrace it.”
Conspiracies serve López Obrador well. It leads to nationalism, racism, or violence when a person or a defined group is blamed every morning by the presidential pulpit. The intermediaries in spreading conspiracy theories are the people who, like Manuel, are convinced that what López Obrador said is a “holy word,” so, with the help of an apparatus designed by Jesús Ramírez Cuevas, they propagate the message either in attack or defense, adopting the most radical and outrageous positions. They will excuse, justify and overlook the despicable actions of the malignant narcissist. It doesn’t matter if his siblings were caught on video receiving money, his cousin with millionaire contracts directly assigned, or his children in all sorts of shady business deals. The important thing is to divert attention, to keep the money, power, and status, but above all, the approval and control of everything that goes with it.
It is essential to recognize that there may be some truth to some of the conspiracy theories presented on the morning news, but ultimately they are, if anything, just that, some truth. López Obrador and his communicators have done something unheard of among Mexicans. Create a gap of separation, resentment, and normalization of everything that was previously seen as something scandalous, and that is part of something called “cognitive dissonance” (attributed to psychologist Leon Festinger in 1957), which is a mental conflict that occurs when a person’s behaviors and beliefs do not match. Attitudes or beliefs that conflict with one’s actions. In other words, López Obrador’s followers go to extraordinary lengths in search of internal psychological coherence to function mentally when faced with opposing ideas or indefensible facts.
Although Manuel and I have decided to put our friendship on definitive pause, one thing we have in common, we both believe that we must take back the country from those thieving politicians and rapacious business people who have taken advantage of and violated our country, its rule of law, its constitution and its law. But, unfortunately, it is also clear that our perceptions are a mixture of objective and personal interpretations of reality, usually quite egocentric.
The biggest problem is that all these conspiracy theories of López Obrador about those of us who do not think like him are heating the population, followers or not. The social networks are a hotbed of insults and threats from one side or the other, and I often wonder how long it will be before he takes to the streets. We already live in a brutal and violent country. One of the main destinations for child sexual predators, human trafficking, forced disappearances, and violent murders linked to organized crime, but the president says no… that we are doing just fine, even though his own statistics indicate otherwise.
I end with one last question: Can we change our country, or is it impossible because a greater force controls Mexico? The answer to this will tell you exactly what will happen in the near future in our country.
For Times Media Mexico / The Yucatan Times
Jose E. Urioste P.
Merida Yucatan, Mexico
05 – 05- 2023