21: Tariffs and racism: Héctor Rivera on AMLO’s Mexico

August 7, 2018

Jen is off this week, so our producer Eric Ruder joins Danny to speak with Héctor Rivera about the momentous election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (known as AMLO) as the new president of Mexico.

Héctor is a California-based socialist who writes for Socialist Worker about protests and politics inside México, and this election gave us a lot to talk about. Not only did AMLO’s MORENA party destroy the country’s three main parties en route to winning power at the federal and local level, but his election is a historic victory for the longstanding democracy movement that has fought against one-party rule and rigged elections in México.

Héctor talks to us about the factors that led to this historic election, especially the devastating policies of privatization and “free” trade that enriched the Mexican elite while impoverishing millions, and then the catastrophic drug war, both of which have greatly accelerated longstanding patterns of Mexican migration to the U.S.

We also talked about the contradictions in AMLO’s plans to take on what he calls the “Mafia of Power” and the important tasks facing Mexican socialists and activists. Héctor tells us about some of the social movements not often covered by the U.S. media, including a feminist movement that has touched all corners of Mexican society and that formed an important part of AMLO’s campaign, even as he partnered with reactionary evangelical forces.

In our opener, we continue a conversation started last week about how socialists should understand and counter the growth of the far right. This week we take a step back to look at the role that Trump’s MAGA nationalism has played in giving fascists a toxic sea in which to swim.

We look at how tariffs and protectionism, which many in the labor and progressive movements wrongly favor, are a disastrous strategy for U.S. workers that undermine international solidarity and cede ground to xenophobes and far-right nationalists. And we make the case for why our approach to stopping fascism has to combine direct confrontation with the building of socialist and labor movements that can show the angry and alienated a different model of collective power.

Links for the interview with Héctor Rivera:

Listen to the presentation given at Socialism 2018 by Héctor, Luis Rangel and Josie Chávez (http://bit.ly/MexicoSocialists)

Héctor’s Socialist Worker article about AMLO’s election (http://bit.ly/AMLOelection)

Héctor’s two-part interview with Mexican socialist Edgard Sánchez Ramírez: “The making of neoliberal México,” part 1 (http://bit.ly/NeolibMexico1) and part 2 (http://bit.ly/NeolibMexico2)

Links for our opener on right-wing nationalism:

Fortune article on how many Americans make less than $15 an hour (http://bit.ly/Fortune15)

Kim Moody’s book On New Terrain, which argues why globalization isn’t the main source of working class decline (http://bit.ly/OnNewTerrain)

Ahmed Shawki’s classic 1983 article against protectionism “Don’t Buy ‘Buy American’” (http://bit.ly/DontBuyBA)

Music and audio for this episode:

The Boy & Sister Alma, “Lizard Eyes” (Dead Sea Captains Remix)
Run The Jewels, “Hey Kids (Bumaye)”
Stevie Wonder, “Pastime Paradise”
Control Machete, “Sí Señor”
Calle 13, “Latinoamérica”
Control Machete, “Cumbia Sobre El Río”
Lila Downs, “Urge”