Searching for AMLO


Something was lost on the way. In 2018, Andrés Manuel López Obrador looked rejuvenated and ready, put on and envelopes: he is the one who laughs at a video-bomb of the campaign that seeks to link him to Russian money; he laughs and blows up that failed attempt which, says Tatiana Clouthier, was conceived in an office paid for by businessmen and designed by intellectuals.

But something has been lost from 2018 to date. Why? His opponents are exactly the same and have exactly the same tactics that they used for years against him, and sometimes it worked for them until it didn’t work anymore: in 2018 they looked disoriented, lost. And AMLO is in control of his domains. That López Obrador of 2018 was the best version of himself.

Well, I have a point of reference: I’m looking for the AMLO of 2018, the one that swept away. I retrace my steps. I return to the key moments of that Andrés Manuel: a young man pulls him and says: “We love you, old man!”; an old man hugs him so tight that no one can separate them. That is a leader that is not seen today, and here I find a first fact: of course, the pandemic separated him from contact with the people.

I keep looking in 2018. I find a López Obrador who, wherever he goes, wherever he stops, offers love and peace and acts as such. “Revenge is not my strong suit,” he repeats. And sum. He slips a Lilly Téllez, no way, that kind of people are leftover. But he adds. He is in search of a broad covenant and he shows it: he reaches out to those who offended him and continue to offend him, and when he does, he clearly walks over them. No one crosses him because he either jumps over them, or turns them around, or extends his hand to them. He puts them in the bag.

It is not about him in 2018, it is about the Nation, about rescuing Mexico, and we Mexicans want that: that this beautiful country moves forward and not because of us, but those who come. The message (no more Mexico without us) is widely understood, and here I have another piece of information: he is a López Obrador entertained in adding, not in leading a resistance. He is on an offensive from several fronts, not defending himself against the harassment that comes from several fronts.

It is 2018 and the candidate of the left is wasting no time. He is in the field but he is everywhere. They launch a page, Pejeleaks, and they immediately reply, with solid data: it was bought in Panama, it operates from Los Angeles, California. The names and surnames of that defamatory page are displayed in real-time. They launch a truck campaign with the announcement of “Populism in Latin America” ​​and there is quickly a response, a complaint to the INE and press actions: to inform, with a lot of data; to unmask. Memes, fake news, and gifs to discredit López Obrador circulate – like today – on social networks and messaging services like WhatsApp, and the answer are not memes or fake news. It is those who generate them: thus, the offices paid for by businessmen and operated by alleged intellectuals are unmasked.

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And then comes the accusation of Russian money: wham, answer with lightning speed, with ingenuity and intelligence, and they deactivate it. It is known that the manipulators of Cambridge Analytica prowl the offices of the Presidency, the PRI, and the PAN: wham, they are shown with data. The PRI launches its spot “You don’t want to live in fear”, where a woman can’t sleep “because of how worried” she is if AMLO wins; she quickly responds with another video that in summary says: “don’t be afraid, don’t worry, those from the PRI are already leaving.”

The candidate attends meetings with his most visible enemies of the moment: he goes to “Tercer Grado” on Televisahe goes to the Milenio journalists’ table. He stands in front of Aguilar Camín, Loret, López-Dóriga, etc. He takes on tough or insidious questions and overcomes them. Meanwhile, in the networks, the viral is viral: the image of Carlos Marín fuming spreads massively and is, without more, the portrait of an era; the image of defeat. And it is not Andrés Manuel who exhibits it, but the network charging it to the network.

José Antonio Meade spreads: “Mexico needs a serious President. A professional who knows how to face internal and external challenges, who guarantees economic and legal stability”. Tatiana Clouthier deflates it with three words: “Who do you propose?” The network bursts into laughter and the opponent of the candidate on the left is in the right dimension of him. He looks small. Tatiana does her thing without the need for López Obrador to say a word. Meade would reply, “Mere.” Some celebrate it and use it as a slogan for a while, without realizing how lonely they make the PRI candidate look: they make Meade look like he is promoting himself.

A key element of 2018 is that López Obrador does not go to all of them. The candidate lets someone else answer, who is the face of the necessary public lawsuits and who makes the corresponding complaints before the necessary authorities. That someone is Tatiana. Meanwhile, he was doing his thing: building a broad alliance, shaking hands, selling the idea that he was leaving for something big that transcended one-on-one lawsuits. That of the lawsuits one by one is important: hardly in the debate does he see Ricardo Anaya face to face, for example; but his fight is not with him, he says throughout the campaign: his fight is with Anaya’s bosses: the real gangsters, those of the de facto powers.

Analysts, the media, certain journalists, and network operators realize that in the 2018 campaign of the left there is content analysis and content response; legal strategy when required and above all, sleuths that are measuring trends and reviewing who provokes them to anticipate them and to exhibit them. In other words, there is an all-terrain team, rude and direct, deeply informed and articulated to respond to fake news campaigns and strategies with hard data. That team kills dirty war actions as soon as they see the light. And that inhibits them.

In 2018 it was war and the response was as in times of war: the general saved himself for very specific battles and meanwhile, the teams that accompanied him showed their faces. López Obrador’s team aimed to move the sewage from just below so that the toads that usually hide in it would come out. He did, with enormous success. This is how the dirty war of 2018 was overcome. The candidate exercised his right of reply like never before – many times without being the one to show his face – and how he could not do it in 2006. And we already know what happened in 2006. And we already know how much was achieved in 2018.

The episode that best illustrates all of the above is what was called “Operation Berlin”. Tatiana Clouthier detects that shadow teams have been attacking López Obrador for months with well-reasoned content. That team, she says in “Together We Made History”, went from making memes to publishing well-articulated stories. Stories riddled with lies, of course. The campaign coordinator knitted quickly: Enrique Coppel paid for dirty wars to benefit Felipe Calderón in 2006 and tried to get his 25,000 employees to vote for the PAN. It was Coppel who linked AMLO with Luis Echeverría and to go no further: he is campaigning for Meade.

Tatiana continues to investigate. She finds a company –Expertaria, owned by Jesús Ramón Rojo Macías– whose job is to undermine the image of López Obrador. “The dirty work started in November 2016,” she says. “Expertaria, hiring a farm of cybernetic trolls, was in charge of incubating apocryphal profiles and pages of support for Ricardo Anaya […]”. She investigates, investigates, accumulates information. She hunts them. She finds her offices in different parts of Mexico and even abroad and in March 2018 locates the main center of operations: Berlin 245 Colonia Del Carmen, in Coyoacán. She is already sure of two names: Enrique Krauze and Fernando García Ramírez.

And on April 2, Tatiana Clouthier dropped the bombshell. We already know who they are, who pays them, and where they hide, she said in an interview with René Delgado. They make fake news and move it with bots and haters who contaminate the chats, the discussions, with lies, she says. Clouthier shoots the rabbit hole without saying much and they all run and the campaign of false accusations goes down the drain. That blow should have been in 2006, but, well, it came when it came. And it was final.

Anyway. I went looking for the López Obrador of 2018 and found many useful things. I must say that a President cannot take care of himself and defend himself, in the face of attacks, as a candidate does. The differences are many between one and the other. But the accumulated experience is what the best platform offers, always. Knowledge is built among all.

I think President 2022 lacks someone to coordinate the response. It’s a lot and it’s going to get worse. In 2022, 2023, and 2024 they will throw everything at him. And they will want him to personally answer them because when he answers they force him to look down to where the toads are hiding. The dirty war will become increasingly rude, more rabid and you will have more money because the opposition does not take off and because they only understand their own position based on the other, that is, based on the damage they cause AMLO.

The Green Parasite (PVEM) used the 2018 tsunami but it has not been to lift a finger in defense of López Obrador; governors and legislators came out with advertisements in print media as if we were in 1970. In Morena some say something, others nothing. In the PT the same. They are the allies of the President! Why are they hiding? And if they don’t hide, that’s what it seems.

It seems to me that the President could save himself and not hit all the balls that are sent to him. I also think that there is a lack of a strategy outside, in his party or in the lopezobradorismo, and another within the Government and that they keep their distance but that they understand each other. The attack on AMLO will tighten because that is how they destroy an entire project. And from the parasites of the Green to the individuals of goodwill within the López Obrador depend on the project.

I already said it: Andrés Manuel is leaving, but if they weaken him, those who accompany him will also leave. The difference is that AMLO had already announced that he would leave as soon as the Presidency ended, and his allies had not: they must stay if they want to continue the path they have already begun.

I also see that, at the same time that it anticipates blows and contains those that are in development, López Obrador should position its own issues. Sell ​​your 4T. Talk, for example, about what they cannot talk about from the Government in an electoral ban and position themselves, with a well-articulated strategy, beyond dirty wars and have a horizon.

Something was lost along the way, between 2018 and 2022, but what was learned should not be forgotten. López Obrador looked rejuvenated and ready, set and envelopes; he never saw himself on the defensive but in control of absolutely everything. Now the enemies are not few and we are in the middle of the dispute over Mexico: it is convenient for the progressive forces to organize and defend the positions they have won. For starters, he won the Presidency. The assault is on the Presidency. It is not with a display, it is not with a tweet, it is not with a hashtag: what do they lack to put together something more ambitious and well executed?

Alexander Paez Varela
Journalist, writer. 
He is the author of the novels Corazón de Kaláshnikov (Alfaguara 2014, Planeta 2008), Música para Perros (Alfaguara 2013), El Reino de las Moscas (Alfaguara 2012) and Oriundo Laredo (Alfaguara 2017). 
He is also from the storybooks Does not include Batteries (Cal y Arena 2009) and Parachutes that does not open (2007). 
He wrote President in Waiting (Planeta 2011) and is co-author of other journalism books such as La Guerra por Juárez (Planeta, 2008), Los Suspirantes 2006 (Planeta 2005), Los Suspirantes 2012 (Planeta 2011), Los Amos de México (2007), The Untouchables (2008) and The Suspirants 2018 (Planeta 2017). 
He was deputy editorial director of El Universal, deputy director of Día Siete magazine and editor at Reforma and El Economista. 
He is currently CEO of

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