Before the progressive Mexican candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (popularly known as AMLO) won the presidential election, the former candidate Marichuy, representing the Indigenous National Council, predicted, “The important test will come afterward. If we really want a real change we need to build an organization from below, starting from the neighborhoods, the cities and the indigenous communities.”
After AMLO’s historic victory, another woman, the eco-feminist theologian Marilú Rojas Salazar, reaffirmed that the most difficult part starts now. “It’s not enough to have voted for a ‘good president,’” she told us. “We need to ensure that his government will keep its promises.”
This time the Mexican business and political elite could not stop the change. The desire to turn the page was too deep?
AMLO’s victory is the triumph of the people, exhausted by corruption, by cases of forced disappearance, by the violence unleashed by the governments of PRI and PAN, and tired of a constantly growing poverty, worn out by unemployment and unfulfilled promises. The people, with their vote, wanted to punish the narco-government that has ruled the country for decades, plundering it legislature after legislature. You can get an idea of Mexico’s wealth by looking at the impressive looting that has taken place in the country every six years. With this vote, we wanted to put an end to cases such as the 43 young desaparecidos of Ayotzinapa and to the reality of at least two generations of young people murdered throughout the country or enslaved by organized crime. We wanted to put an end to feminicide (at a rate of eight women killed every day), to state corruption, to the reforms that led to the country’s bankruptcy, to the criminalization of workers, teachers, farmers and indigenous people. AMLO’s triumph means that the Mexican people wanted to regain power. That militant’s hope has won the culture of fear that had imposed itself in the past legislature.
In a context of violence and corruption, AMLO seems to have won thanks to the simple proposal of something new. But how founded are the hopes for real change, considering the alliance of its political strength with the right-wing party Encuentro Social and its proximity to sectors of the entrepreneurial class?
There is no room for naivety: behind AMLO’s proposal for government there are also representatives with a highly questionable political past. Nor can one think of transforming an entire country exclusively by voting for a “good president” and passively waiting for change to come down from above. We will have to be careful that AMLO will keep the promises and sweeps away old and corrupt institutions. To do this we need participation and conscious, critical and committed citizenship.
What are the expectations of indigenous peoples? What did the experience of Marichuy’s candidacy leave?
AMLO has made various commitments to indigenous peoples. Now is the time to keep our word. It is a matter of giving momentum to the experiences already existing in the indigenous communities, of drawing inspiration from their forms of organization to overcome the current presidentialism in the direction of other models of government. The virtue of Marichuy was to unmask the “patriarchal machine,” the racist and classist nature of Mexican society itself. It is not only the government that must change; we citizens must also undertake a process of personal and social transformation.
From an eco-feminist point of view, what can we expect from the new government?
Eco-feminism is an anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-elitist policy proposal aimed at changing the current relationships of domination, toward the creation of a society more equitable, inclusive and attentive to the care of our common home. At least at the level of proposals, there are some important indications in the AMLO project, such as support for agriculture, so that people are not forced to emigrate because of unemployment and poverty. Moreover, water protection, protection of land defenders, many of whom have been murdered in recent years, and the presence of a good number of women in his government team. However, we have a tough fight ahead of us in terms of developing alternative energy policies and innovative and effective proposals in the environmental field. And there is a great need to ensure that the principle “first the poor,” on which AMLO insisted, and which also crosses the ecofeminist proposal, becomes a reality in the country.