Today is Independence Day in México, well actually it is the continuation as the “Grito” is celebrated the night before. Like the Fourth of July celebrations, today México celebrates its Independence Day. I also get to remind some readers that today is Mexican Independence Day, not Cinco de Mayo. Most readers already know that Mexicans are celebrating their independence from Spain. There are many places to look up the significance of the day and many other places to get in-depth analysis of what, where and how México achieved independence. So, I won’t get into that today. What I’d like to do is offer an overview of the so-called Fourth Transformation of México.
Andrés Manuel López Obrado, colloquially known as AMLO, has argued that his presidency is the Fourth Transformation of México. According to AMLO, México is undergoing a transformation away from centralized privileged political power towards power in the hands of the Mexican people. AMLO, and his supporters, argue that corruption in México is driven by self-serving, pocket-lining interests that the political power corruptly controls. AMLO wants to rid México of corruption.
According to the AMLO thesis, there have been three previous social and political transformation in México. These are the War of Independence (1810-1821), The Reform War (1858-1861) where Benito Juárez took power away from the Catholic Church by imposing a strict separation of church and state, and the Mexican Revolution (1910-1917). The Mexican Revolution is generally accepted as an agrarian revolution against industrialization. However, the Mexican Revolution pitted the political right versus the political left.
AMLO believes that he is leading the fourth transformation of México.
It is impossible to argue for or against AMLO’s success at this point because it is too soon in his presidency. Political transformation takes years, and even decades to prove their value. It is possible to argue that AMLO has taken a few steps towards his ideal of the transformation, such as refocusing México’s economy towards oil. However, AMLO has also taken México back towards an inward-looking public policy agenda that ignores international issues and, instead, focuses on domestic issues.
For example, rather than challenge Donald Trump’s threats of punitive economic threats, AMLO capitulated and allocated substantial resources of his new national guard forces towards stopping Central American asylum seekers from traversing México towards the United States.
By using the newly formed national guard for immigrant interdiction at the behest of the United States, AMLO has exasperated the intended use of the guard for controlling violence within Mexican borders.
This puts AMLO’s promise of ending the rampant violence on the back burner while the national guard is trained and deployed in full.
Whether AMLO is leading the fourth transformation of México is debatable and has yet to be demonstrated.
However, I believe that if AMLO’s presidency is a transformation of México, it would be the sixth transformation of México, not the fourth.
In my opinion, the first transformation of México was the colonization of the country. Many Mexicans, including myself, do not see ourselves as a Spanish to Mexican evolution, but rather we see the Spanish colonization of México as an invasion of the existing country. It is much like the French intervention that lead to the Cinco de Mayo holiday. Mexicans, in my viewpoint, trace our ancestry back to the Aztecas. The Spanish were an intervention in the formation of the Aztec nation towards what is commonly known as México.
This is why our national symbol is the eagle with a serpent in its mouth. Its genesis comes from Aztec folklore.
The Spanish imposed a radical transformation both socially and religious upon the Aztec civilization. It remained so until the Aztec nation reasserted itself during the war of independence.
That makes it the First Transformation of México.
After the Mexican Revolution but before AMLO, I believe that there was another transformation of México – the Fifth Transformation.
The Fifth Transformation started in 1982. During that transformation, México’s economy was transformed away from an agrarian and oil-based economy towards one of manufacturing goods for global consumption. Under the neo-liberal scheme, México became a source of manufactured goods in the global supply chain. The key was NAFTA.
During this time, México also relaxed some of its strict separation of state and religion allowing evangelists to set foot in México and it allowed the Catholic Church to once again exert influence in the Mexican political sphere.
It remains unclear whether AMLO is the vanguard of a Mexican political transformation, but if it is, then it would the sixth transformation and not the fourth.
When will we know that México is indeed in the midst of a political transformation? It all depends on whether AMLO stops kowtowing to Donald Trump and focuses on delivering upon his promises of eradicating corruption, empowering the Mexican people and bringing violence under control.