Mexico’s response to The Economist’s meddling in the Mexican elections

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MEXICO– The following is a response from secretary of exterior, Marcelo Ebrard, to the  editor of The Economist after the Magazine published an Op-ed and Cover page using racists remarks towards the president of Mexico, Lopez Obrador. The magazine then asks Mexicans not to vote for the President’s party, MORENA .

The MORENA party is the first progressive party in Mexico after 70 years of an authoritarian regime. President Lopez Obrador is a life-time human rights activist and a democrat who won in a landslide in the 2018 elections, and whom some consider as Mexico’s Mandela.

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Disclosure: Some words were modified during translation to match the sentiments expressed in the letter.

Mr. [ The Economist] Editor:

Just a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of talking with the international editor of your magazine. I took the opportunity to present the fundamental points of the profound political, economic, and social transformation Mexico has been experiencing for the last two and a half years. We spoke, among other topics, of the efforts that, as a government, we are undertaking to get out of the COVID-19 pandemic, of our constructive relations with the United States, as well our vision to generate development in the south of our country and Central America— and the political situation of the country in general.


The international editor of The Economist was not sensitive to a single of the arguments we discussed, but on the contrary, and just a few days before the elections in which we Mexicans will freely elect our representatives, your news media publishes a couple of articles inviting our citizens to vote against the president of Mexico, and his party on an opinion piece that was also the magazine’s front page, with the title “FALSE MESSIAH”.

The Economist’s piece took all of us by surprise, not because of the ideological and biased position of your magazine, but because of its virulence and fragile arguments. It seems that the opinion piece was written with the goal to permeate the vision that the majority of Mexican society, especially those with fewer resources, are wrong and are supporting who they should not be supporting. Today’s cover page is a synthesis of exasperation. It is known, and all polls including, that the results of the upcoming election, just as it happened in 2018, will not match the outcome your magazine is looking for. [Even Chase Bank’s recent report explains the projected landslide victory for the progressive party MORENA and its coalition].


In the presidential elections of 2018, the experts predicted that López Obrador would hardly reach coming into power and that, should the Mexican electorate elect him, it would lead the country to an spectacular economic failure, characterized by economic devaluation, hyperinflation, debt, and a direct clash with the United States. 


None of this has happened. On the contrary, the government of President López Obrador has fulfilled its promise to prioritize and refocus spending on the poorest and working class families, as he promised during his campaign. At the same time, his administration has successfully maintained fiscal discipline and sound public finances. For example, Mexico now has achieved a historic increase to the minimum wage without any reforms and with the help of the business sector, while keeping inflation at bay and sustaining currency stability. At the bilateral level, it has successfully built in a very short time a relationship of respect and collaboration with the administration of President Joseph R. Biden.


The small sector of elites have failed to understand López Obrador, and today it seems they continue making the same mistakes, reflected in your opinion piece [which only archives to destroy media objectivity, and borderline infringes on meddling in the elections by a foreign entity such as yours].

The Magazine’s op-ed paints a bleak outlook for the country, but loses sight of its history past and present. In terms of the Mexican economy, like that of the rest of the countries, suffered the ravages of the pandemic. Experts predict our economy will grow around 6% this year, without having contracted any debt, while maintaining healthy finances and with historical numbers of Direct Foreign Investment never seen in decades.

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Your weekly magazine puts into question the government response to COVID-19, but fails to cover the success of the early management of the pandemic and its successful use of traffic light system to monitor and follow cases– a measure that has now been now adopted by European countries as well as in the U.S.

In addition, The U.N congratulated Mexico for early attention to the pandemic, within which, in a matter of months, our administration more than doubled its hospital care capacities, built hospitals, developed its own ventilators, and Mexico is currently among the top countries in having provided, in a timely manner, universal access to the vaccines— all these facts are overlooked. Not for nothing, Mexico is currently the tenth country with the highest number of vaccines applied to its population and number two in which its majority of population wants to get vaccinated, which, incidentally, has been promoted by our administration, and the president has provided incredible support during these difficult times. 


But perhaps the most striking of the texts in your op-ed, due to its absurdity, is the suggestion that President López Obrador has somehow undermined Mexican democracy, when what he has done is precisely the opposite. Many of your readers will remember that Mexico was not so long ago an authoritarian country with one regime who ruled for almost 70 years, without any freedom of the press or free elections. A high voter turnout which gave the country the opportunity to be ruled by an honest and transparent government who has listened to its citizens about the urgent need to transition to democracy– an offer that continues to be supported by millions of our fellow Mexicans citizens– among which López Obrador is one to represent them. It is offensive and even discriminatory to speak the majority of Mexicans as if they have been dumped by Lopez Obrador, a man who has been a human rights activist his entire life..


After decades-long struggle against a closed and repressive system, today Mexico has a strong, plural and diverse democracy, in which, as never before, the population is consulted directly on substantive issues and everyone participates, and they aren’t carefully secreted as your op-ed tries to insinuate. And this practice is nothing new, for example, in the United States controversial proposals or laws are constantly voted on by its citizens through referendum votes presented at the ballot box during local, state and federal elections.


As never before in the history of Mexico, has there ever been so much freedom of the press, of expression, and the right to protest in the streets– something many countries in Europe and other parts of the world cannot currently practice. Furthermore, in an unprecedented exercise, President López Obrador is accountable to the public and maintains a circular dialogue with the press every day via press conference. Even the journalist Jorge Ramos confided to our director of communications Jesus Ramirez, that it was a great exercise the president was engaged in and that he never experienced a president giving such open access to the press, as President Lopez Obrador does. Even though the levels of criticism towards President López Obrador  exceed those made to his predecessors (just open any Mexican newspaper or see photo below), nevertheless, he is the most approved president of Mexican democracy, and in the world—according to Morning Consult.  Anyone can argue against it, but none of our citizens can deny that in Mexico we are all exercising a real democratic transition– and that’s not a democracy speech, it is the sentiment of 70% of our informed citizens.


There are two possible explanations why the government of President López Obrador remains with such a high margin of approval, even after having gone through difficult times. In the elitist view, who they defended ad nauseam, is that the majority of Mexicans are wrong and do not know what is really good for them because they either lack economic status, or that the color of their skin represents their level of education and cannot possibly match those of an rational intellectual.

Another, perhaps the most obvious but often overlooked or considered, is that the majority of people in our country are favoring a system that places them as a priority for the first time in their lives. Isn’t it time to question that it is the elites who are angry and exasperated with President López Obrador, and not the majority who feel represented and defended, that are wrong? 


We are living in turbulent times and, without a doubt, there is still much to do to defeat the pandemic, achieve the definitive takeoff of our economy and fulfill the promise of closing the gross social gap created after years of corruption, but the current evaluation of Mexicans is that we are doing well, and we are heading in the right direction. Perhaps it is time that, paraphrasing an article in your magazine from a few years ago, the exasperated elites understand that they are not understanding that things have changed, not only in our country but worldwide . 

Yours sincerely, 

Marcelo Ebrard
Secretary of Foreign Relations

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