Taking Andrés Manuel López Obrador at His Word

Is it also a 'human right' for Central Americans to migrate to Mexico?

By Dan Cadman on June 28, 2018

Mexico's presidential election occurs Sunday, July 1, and it's quite possible that by the time you read this, the candidate will have been chosen. It's also quite possible that the winner will be Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), a left-leaning populist nationalist whose prose resonates with slightly anti-American themes.

The Economist has published an article detailing a few of the guerrilla civil disobedience tactics that have made López Obrador's political star shine so brightly among Mexico's poor and dispossessed. Some aren't too dissimilar from Antifa tactics, in a Mexican motif. And his oratorical rhetoric carries some of the same messianic tones that we once saw out of leftist luminaries such as Fidel Castro in Cuba and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Those experiments in populist "democracy" went stunningly wrong, and one worries for Mexico's future.

Closer to home, though, it was López Obrador's reaction to the ongoing U.S. border crisis that raised eyebrows when he was reported by El Universal newspaper to have said "[S]oon, very soon, after the victory of our movement, we will defend migrants from all over the American continent and the world who, by necessity, have to to leave their towns to look for a [better] life in the United States. It is their human right that we are going to defend."

When some publications and blog sites suggested that López Obrador was calling for illegal mass migration to the United States, the notorious PunditFact, reliable only for parsing words to achieve results it is comfortable with, rushed to declare this suggestion "pants on fire". Given the context in which the remarks were made, though, and even the most casual knowledge of his views, a cautious thinker cannot help but ponder his intent.

There is no doubt that the words will resonate with many Mexicans who look on history quite differently than we do, and see the loss of large swaths of what is now the U.S. southwest, but was once part of the Mexican "empire", as a giant land grab, a theft. There is even a name given to the desire to retake these lands: the reconquista (reconquest). Needless to say, reconquest could occur by armed means, which would be near suicidal for Mexico to contemplate given U.S. military might, or, just as Islam preaches, lands can be taken by massive resettlement.

This may seem fantastic to U.S. eyes and ears, but it is serious business for many south of our border, and even for some within the United States. YouTube even hosts a video titled "México La Reconquista – Aztlán", put together by the Chicano Student Movement of Aztlán. I don't intend to fan the flames of xenophobia or conspiracy theory by pointing this out, but cannot help wonder whether López Obrador himself isn't subtly doing his best to stir the pot.

Meantime, presuming he wins the presidency, it will be interesting to see whether he applies his words to his own land. In May, National Public Radio published a piece detailing how unwelcome Central Americans feel when they cross illegally into his country.

If López Obrador is as good as his word, then he should establish an amnesty that permits them (perhaps in perpetuity) to exercise their human rights to migrate to Mexico.

Topics: Mexico