Andrés Manuel López Obrador became Mexican president past December 1, 2018. Thousands of
Mexicans packed the zocalo and surrounding downtown streets to witness the event. Any observer from
afar could see evidence of Mexican euphoria.
The same day that he took office, the old presidential residence of Los Pinos opened to the
public. For more than eighty years, the luxurious presidential home was a semi-secret fortress for the
powerful Mexican political elite. Now, it is under the custody of the Secretary of Culture. For the time
being and the next six years, and probably for the near future, it will be a place to visit and sojourn for all
Mexicans like the National History Museum at the old Castle in Chapultepec.
Lopez Obrador first presidential speech referenced four social transformations. His term in office
would herald the onset of the fourth. What are those fourth transformations he mentioned? The first
was the fight for independence between 1820 and 1821 that obtained national autonomy.
The second was the War of Reform, the mid-nineteenth century conflict between conservatives
and liberals. Bloody and cruel struggle finally won by the liberals under Benito Juarez (1857-1861). The
looser conservatives shrouded themselves for decades until the arrival of Porfirio Diaz (1876-1910). The
third transformation and closer in time to the present was the Mexican Revolution (1910-1921). A bitter
civil war, which caused considerable casualties and abysmal destruction. Leaders as Francisco I. Madero,
Venustiano Carranza, Emiliano Zapata, and Francisco Villa provided their successors with the ideals of
social justice and workers’ rights. The 1917 Constitution incorporated these principles.
Still, these leaders paid their idealism with their lives. The Mexican Revolution distributed land,
educated the Mexicans, allowed unionization, nationalized oil and ores and banned their exploitation by
international consortiums. All that the Revolution accomplished until the government of Lazaro Cardenas
(1934-1940) was slowly but surely undone under the watch and direction of those that under the banner
of national interests lined their pockets with embezzled money, built mansions for themselves, and
placed their ill-gotten dollars in tax-free havens.
Corruption infiltrated public offices, and complicit functionaries made civic duty appear as the
means to become wealthy at the expense of the national treasury. From Miguel Aleman Valdes
(1952-1958) to the outgoing Enrique Pena Nieto, hardcore Priistas rejoiced in steeling rapaciously and
gloated their impunity. During the 1980s, all Mexican possessions appeared to for sales like public office,
unions, ores, oil, and workers, elections of all types, and the vilest item for sale was the conscience of
unscrupulous politicians, usurers business people, and dishonest and unethical union leaders.
Few escaped the unscrupulous profiteering of Priistas, Panistas and that shameful failure of the
PRD. All of them are indebted to the Mexican people for their ill-gotten wealth. What about the
disastrous emergence of the drug traffickers into the public sphere in the 1980s? It is not a secret that
drug use, mostly pot, is centuries old. What was different in those years was the distribution of South
American cocaine by Mexican drug dealers using the borderlands. After all, the drug was not for national
consumption but export to the primary customer, the U.S. It is well known that during the presidential
term of Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994) negotiations of the right of way took place with the drug
czars. Since then the multi-billion dollar drug trade was all profit for corrupt politicians, police and
military forces, banks, financial systems, judges and employees of the judiciary. All of them received
direct payoffs or laundered the money. No doubt, it was an attractive deal.
The loser was the Mexican society that has not been at peace since the sharp rise of violence
associated with the traffic. Drug lords and their gangs did not resort to torture, dismemberment, and
killing as an impulse. The responsible party for the violence is Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, PAN President
from 2006 to 2012. He propelled the murderous operation by launching a “war on drugs.” Behaving like
a petty autocrat, he directed the military and the navy into the streets of Mexico to fight the drug cartels.
The exploit was more to please the northern neighbor and its war on drugs than a real commitment to
engage the drug problem. The multi-billion dollar business was not about to capitulate and let their filthy
Calderon and his government entirely miscalculated the strength and resolve of the drug lords.
Calderon started 12 years of misery that took the life of women, men, and children. Many of them
innocent bystanders that happen to be in the crossfire. Close to 300,000 dead and 50,000 disappeared
are the numbers produced by the war. If Calderon propelled the war, it continued by his successor Peña
Nieto. There were no lessons learned from Colombia who had its country dotted with bodies. They did
not listen to the warnings issued by specialists and human rights activists requesting the withdrawal of
the military and their return to the barracks.
Not even common sense mattered. Peña Nieto was happily demolishing what remained of the
national economy and the State. He was complaisant protecting his own and his friends’’ corruption and
impunity. The only decisive action by Peña Nieto was his hands-off policy and respect for the results of
the elections that gave a landslide victory to Lopez Obrador and MORENA. The day of the vote, the
Mexicans bade farewell to the PRI, PAN, and PRD that hurt the country so much.
The above is the basic scenario of the country now ruled by AMLO. It does not look like a good
setting. However, AMLO can make it work because of his sincerity, honesty, and love of civic duty that
heralds the fourth transformation. He promised clean accounting of the national resources, public
hearings, and decreased salaries for the overpaid government employees, representatives, senators and
Supreme Court judges. Above all, AMLO will attempt to erase government corruption.
In the same way, he will endeavor to end systemic poverty and inequality by improving the
national economic conditions of the country. The challenge is enormous and appears unattainable. The
resistance of entrenched corrupt government officials, union leaders, and politicians is significant as well.
The elimination of close to eighty years of corruption and impunity is a lofty and challenging goal, not an
impossible one. AMLO has on its side an impressive team of honest professionals committed to working
for change. More critical, AMLO has the backing of the majority of the Mexican people that believe the
fourth transformation is possible.