Saturday, December 4

Cárdenas and López Obrador, the hidden rivalry | Opinion

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano, son of former President Lázaro Cárdenas, in July 2018.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano, son of former President Lázaro Cárdenas, in July 2018.Carlos Tischler / Getty Images

A book could be made on the relationship between Obradorismo and Cardenismo. Or rather, about the absence of a relationship. There would be personal and ideological reasons for the current president’s political movement to assume the work of Lázaro Cárdenas and that of his son Cuauhtémoc as founding columns, as prologues to his own transformative work. But this is not the case, which is surprising, although it has an explanation.

Of all the presidents of the past or current century, General Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-1940), is the only one that Andrés Manuel López Obrador could consider a precursor, but he does not. Almost 90 years ago, Cárdenas introduced even more radical reforms in the same direction as the Government of the Fourth Transformation. The oil expropriation, a deep agrarian distribution and other measures in favor of the most needy, were the pillars of the PRI movement with social conscience and nationalist passion to which the current president refers with a certain nostalgia. It was another Mexico and another international context, but what the Cárdenas government did by dismantling large estates and expelling the oil transnationals has enormous value at a time when the metropolises still felt they had the right to draft our constitutions and Standard Oil and similar deposed governments.

It could be argued that López Obrador preferred to distance himself from the many versions that the agrarian reform acquired over time. Cardenismo ended up serving as a legitimizing discourse, the same for “a sweep as for a watered”. In a valley it served as a stirring narrative to oppose the caciques; in the next valley it served precisely to justify the control of agraristas turned caciques.

However, the few mentions of the president about the figure of the General during his repeated verbal tour of the pantheon of heroes, to which he is so fond, are striking. The parents of Independence, in addition to Benito Juárez and Francisco I. Madero, are the obligatory references, but not Cárdenas, except on March 18, the anniversary of the expropriation (Emiliano Zapata, the humblest of revolutionaries, is not usually mentioned either. although that would deserve another article). Paradoxically, the president remembers Francisco José Mújica, Secretary of Economy of the Cárdenas Cabinet, more frequently than the latter.

With the case of Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, the void that López Obrador creates is even more evident. The general’s son was decisive in López Obrador’s political biography, at least in two moments. In the 1980s, the now president accepted a position at the Federal Consumer Institute in Mexico City, as a political exile after the frustrated experience of changing the PRI of Tabasco. After several years in that position, he seemed destined to merge into the ranks of the federal bureaucracy. But in 1988 Cárdenas and Porfirio Muñoz Ledo, among others, launched an independent proposal from the dissident PRI to challenge Carlos Salinas for the presidency. They considered that the technocrats had distorted the official party. At the urging of Graco Ramírez, Cuauhtémoc convinced López Obrador to return to politics, as a candidate for governor of Tabasco for the newly created National Democratic Front. A second appointment was even required due to the reservations generated in the family by abandoning the solidity of a job for the sake of a pilgrim adventure. The rest is history.

A second moment is the rise of López Obrador, first as president of the national PRD and then as a victorious candidate for the head of government of Mexico City. And although this rise is essentially due to the merits of López Obrador himself, it should be recognized that in all that situation Cuauhtémoc was, by far, the main figure of the movement: mayor of Mexico City and candidate for the country’s presidency on several occasions. . Not necessarily that the Tabasco was his dolphin, but without a doubt it required the tacit approval, or the absence of resistance, from Cárdenas, for him to become his successor in the capital of the country.

An open lawsuit never broke out between them. There was no with what. Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas has always been an austere, honest and collected man, whose leading role has had more to do with his circumstances than with his ambition for power. Neither as governor of Michoacán, still in the PRI, was he characterized by an administration that made history, nor as a defeated and presumably stripped presidential candidate did he react from the opposition. Something in him brings to mind, and not only because of his physiognomy, Prince Charles of Wales.

This Tuesday López Obrador invited Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas to a public act of the 4T for the first time. The last record of a meeting dates from July 3, 2018, when Cárdenas went to congratulate the Tabasco on his triumph, still in the campaign house. Never again during his presidency. And it wasn’t just a cautious distancing. On a couple of occasions, the engineer pointed out that the López Obrador government was not on the left, in clear reference to his discomfort with the style or the decisions of his former co-religionist.

The case between Cardenismo and Obradorismo has a third turn of the screw in Lázaro Cárdenas Batel. The grandson of the general and son of the engineer, third in the political lineage, is Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s chief adviser. A position that says it all. At 57 years of age and with the experience of having been governor, senator and local deputy, Lázaro II had more political merit than most of the figures who today occupy state secretariats. A chief adviser to the presidency is a position that can be as powerful or useless as the sovereign decides personally and at any time. And it is clear that other officials of the presidency assumed tasks of direct responsibility in the political management of fundamental projects of the 4T. Not so the heir to Cardenismo. And even more relevant, the chief adviser lacks political visibility for the great elector. Had he been Minister of State, Cárdenas Batel today would be an obligatory name on the lists of candidates to succeed AMLO. Somehow this has made sure that is not the case.

In sum, for political reasons, not without pride and personal competence, probably, the president did what was necessary so that his movement did not have historical debts with the Cárdenas; and more significantly still, so as not to run the risk that the Cardenismo would become the heir to the Obradorismo.

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