Image: Teotihuacán, near Mexico City, Mexico. Via Mike Peel, Wikimedia Commons

Tan lejos de Dios, tan cerca de los Estados Unidos
(So far from God, so close to the United States)
— attributed to Porfirio Díaz, president and
subsequent dictator of Mexico from 1876 to 1910

The number of Mexican asylum seekers entering Canada continues to grow: some 8,000 in 2022, double the number in 2019 prior to the COVID pause. To asylum seekers add 35,000 temporary workers and almost half a million “tourist” entries. The four unhappy Central American republics to Mexico’s south (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua) are even poorer and less wellgoverned than Mexico. Entries from these countries are also growing: many brave souls crossing Mexico, often on foot, hoping finally to reach Canada.

In this essay I make the simple but disheartening argument that the social well-being gap between Canada and most Latin American nations will not close in the foreseeable future. Explaining why the gap exists and why it persists is my focus. Latin America remains, with rare exceptions, a prisoner of its past. I take Mexico as my prime exhibit. Mexico’s President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO for short), is a classic authoritarian populist, nominally left-wing, not very different from others who have sprung up throughout Latin America’s history.

Mexico, institutions and development economics

Before going further, I make two biases explicit. My first bias is my deep affection for Latin America. In a former life, I fell in love with what once was the glory of Buenos Aires, and I have since remained an irreducible appassionato of the tango. I also have an emotional attachment to Mexico, the centrepiece of this essay. I spent a sabbatical year and from 1990 to 2010 was a visiting professor at the Universidad Autónoma de Puebla. I have inherited a Mexican family. My eldest daughter married a Mexican, who at the time was a civil servant for the State of Puebla and is now a proud Montrealer. My grandchildren are at home in Mexico and Canada. Mexico’s rise in violence and backslide to authoritarianism saddens me greatly.¹ Puebla, Mexico’s fourth largest city and my second home for 20 years, was at the time a comparatively safe and pleasant place, an urban jewel with no equivalent in Canada, Quebec City possibly excepted.

Mexico is a good place to start understanding Latin America. It is Hispanic America’s largest nation (my observations apply to Spanish-speaking America and thus exclude Brazil) and arguably its cultural centre. Mexico City is Latin America’s largest Hispanic metropolis. Mexican telenovelas dominate the continent. Mexico’s symbiotic but also problematic meshing of two cultures, Mesoamerican and Hispanic, mirrors the other Hispanic countries except for the three more Europeanized outliers at South America’s southern tip, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile (the first two of which have almost no indigenous populations, indeed less then Canada). Its schizophrenic relationship with the United States is likewise representative.² Mexico was the crown jewel of the Spanish Empire. In 1521, Hernán Cortés landed in Veracruz with a small band of adventurers and crushed the Aztec Empire, one of the most extraordinary events in human history. Those conquistadors, driven by the lure of sudden riches (Aztec and later Inca gold), laid the foundations of a new civilization.

I use the word civilization consciously. In his landmark 1996 book The Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington identifies Latin America as a separate civilization,³ rightly so in my opinion. This brings me to my second bias: my background is in economics. Without going into a long discourse on debates in development economics, a growing consensus, which I share, has emerged emphasizing the role of institutions – what anthropologists call culture. “Institutions” encompass the values, beliefs and norms of a people. The economic rise of East Asian societies (Chinese, Korean) is no accident, argues David Landes, whose The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor (1999) is an important book in this tradition. These societies are imbued with Confucian values. By the same token, Latin America’s development gap with the rest of the Western world is no accident; it is the outcome of a distinct institutional legacy.

One hundred years of solitude⁴

Angus Maddison (1926–2010) was a British economist who made historical time series his life’s work. Maddison’s databank, now managed by the University of Groningen, is continually updated. It is the de rigueur reference for historical economists seeking data by country and geographic/cultural region. Figure 1 shows the evolution of Latin American per capita GDP on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) over a century, relative to PPP per capita GDP of the Western offshoots and of Western Europe.⁵

The data leave little doubt. Latin American per capita GDP remains at the same percentage of Western offshoots as a century ago and has regressed compared to Western Europe (once half, now down to a third). GDP per capita has systematically hovered around 30 per cent and even less of the North American average. Latin America has, in short, stubbornly remained outside the (developed) Western world, at least as measured in economic terms.

Figure 2 provides analogous series (compared here to the United States) for seven nations, including Canada.⁶ Unsurprisingly, El Salvador finds itself at the bottom (15.5 per cent of U.S. GDP per capita), barely different from a century ago. In this, it is entirely representative of the other three (unhappy) Central American republics mentioned earlier. Recent developments in the region do not presage an improvement. El Salvador is currently governed by Nayib Bukele, a quirky populist who espoused the adoption of cryptocurrencies as the national currency and has de facto suspended basic civil rights in his war on the country’s notorious criminal gangs, giving almost unlimited powers to the military to arrest and detain. In Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, a former revolutionary who has morphed into a classic autocrat (rigged elections, nepotism, controlled press), remains in power and shows little inclination to relinquish it.⁷

The surprising story in figure 2 is Argentina, which remains an enigma to development economists. Developed nations are not supposed to slide back, which is exactly what Argentina has done over the last century (sorry for the cynicism). A century ago Argentina was as rich as Canada, and Buenos Aires was a greater cultural centre than Montreal. When my father ran a travel agency in Paris in the 1920s, “as rich as an Argentine” was an oft-heard axiom. Argentinians considered themselves even more overbearing than Americans: “Paris is nice, pero Buenos Aires!” Buenos Aires at the time was in the same league as London, New York and Paris.

Argentina’s GDP per capita is now about a third that of the United States and appears stuck there. Argentina’s downfall is a story of politics gone awry, trapped in an ideological mindset difficult for outsiders (myself included) to fully comprehend.⁸ Peronism, a mix of left-wing romanticism, messianism, protofascism and nationalism born in the 1940s, continues to dominate Argentina’s politics. Portraits of Evita Perón, the national Madonna, continue to adorn the streets of Buenos Aires.

Peronist governments, including the current one, have been singularly inept at ensuring macroeconomic stability. At last count, inflation is running at over 90 per cent, the highest of any Latin American country bar Venezuela.⁹ The national currency is all but worthless. Predictably, Argentina’s credit rating puts it in the junk bond class (CCC), matched only by El Salvador.¹⁰ Argentina’s military dictatorship (1976–83) was particularly repressive even by Latin American standards. A favourite military sport was throwing opponents of the regime out of airplanes. The portraits of hundreds of olvidados continue to adorn the main squares of Buenos Aires. It required defeat in the Falklands to end the domestic “dirty war.” The wounds of those dark years have yet to heal.

AMLO would have made a good Peronist with his penchant for throwing public funds at dubious ventures. His two pet projects are an $8 billon oil refinery in his home state of Tabasco and a $15 billion tourist train in neighbouring Yucatan.¹¹ Mexico’s credit rating currently stands at BBB (Canada’s is AAA, and the United States, despite its political woes, has a credit rating of AA+). When I first arrived in Mexico in 1990, one Canadian dollar bought four Mexican pesos; now it buys 14 pesos – not the sign of a well-managed economy. The Mexican economy has shown little sign of improvement under AMLO’s reign. Since the 1960s, per capita GDP in Mexico has hovered around 30 per cent of that in the United States.

All is not black. Chile fell from its quasi-developed status at the beginning of the 20th century, but it has since reversed with constant slow improvement since the 1980s. Since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship in 1990, Chile has generally enjoyed competent governments from both sides of the political spectrum. Chile is the only Latin American nation with an “A” credit rating, the sign of sound macroeconomic management. In September 2022 a national plebiscite on a proposed utopian (my choice of adjective) constitution took place. After a long “popular” consultative process led by Gabriel Boric, Chile’s idealistic young President and a former student activist, the constitution was rejected by 62 per cent of the electorate. My reading of this result is that Chile has a vibrant democracy and rejects extremes.

However, Chile remains trapped in what development economists call the “resource curse”: the observation that natural resource abundance (notably in minerals and fossil fuels) often leads to bad government. Those first conquistadors looking for gold set the stage for Latin America’s resource curse. Among the negative impacts of a resource curse are underinvestment in education and disincentive to innovate.¹² China is replacing the United States as Latin America’s major trading partner. China is interested in resources, not making Latin America into a technological competitor. Commodity exports (notably copper) are likely to remain Chile’s primary exports. Chile will have truly arrived the day that technologically sophisticated manufacturing and services account for a significant percentage of its exports.

Faulty states: Taxes, trust and public services

Macroeconomic mismanagement is not the only factor in Latin America’s persistently poor economic performance. In Mexico City or Buenos Aires, Latin America should have given birth to a world-class financial centre on the model of London, Hong Kong or New York. Miami is today its de facto financial capital. The wealthy do not keep their money at home (at least not in the national currency); investments are foregone. However, the costs of poorly regulated financial systems are primarily borne by small businesses via high interest rates.

Macroeconomic mismanagement is the tip of the iceberg. The ultimate measure of a functioning state is the ability to collect taxes. One cannot redistribute income or fund social programs, such as primary and secondary education, without taxes. Figure 3 shows taxes collected as a share of GDP for Canada, Mexico and two other Latin American countries. All three Latin American nations collect significantly less than Canada; Mexico is the worst offender. Some 40 per cent of Mexico’s workforce is estimated to be working outside the formal economy: street vendors, backroom workshops, etc. The informal economy is sometimes romanticized as evidence of an indomitable entrepreneurial spirit, which is not wrong, but informality equals taxes foregone. Informality is, of course, not limited to the poor. Mexico’s powerful drug cartels operate, by definition, outside the state, representing billions in foregone public revenues.

The relationship between willingness to pay taxes and trust needs little explanation. Tax avoidance is rational in kleptomaniac, repressive states. Why pay taxes if most of the money goes into the mayor’s (or governor’s, or police chief’s) pockets? Corruption remains a fact of daily life in Mexico, notably at the state and local level. Property taxes are among the most difficult to administer. Comparing what homeowners in Puebla paid in property taxes, I calculated that they paid one fifth what I paid in Montreal, even after factoring in cost of living differences. Property taxes require functional land markets and recognized ownership titles. Valuing land for tax purposes requires (a) up-to-date cadasters, (b) trustworthy assessment of property values and (c) perceived fair tax collection. This is a tall order. In much of Latin America, titles remain problematic because of competing claims and the indígena legacy of communal land ownership. Unsecured land,cannot be used as collateral for business startups, thereby hampering the development of mortgage markets.

The economic cost (lower productivity, lower wages …) of poor public services is best illustrated by looking at individual firms. Street lighting, paved roads and an honest justice system are examples of “public goods,” which the private sector will not provide and which are necessary for a functioning state. Figure 4 shows the results of a 2002 survey of workers and firms (300 firms in all) in the apparel and food processing industries in three cities.¹³

Firms in the two Latin American cities were significantly more affected by deficient public services than comparable firms in Montreal. Unsurprisingly, firms in San Salvador faced the worst conditions (recall El Salvador’s low position in figure 2). Some 80 per cent responded that they faced arbitrary local administrations; 70 per cent underscored inadequate neighbourhood police protection, often entailing bribes. Receiving any public services also required bribes. The predicable outcome was reliance on private security services, which accounted for more thasn 5 per cent on average of the firm’s wage bill in Puebla and San Salvador. The threat of theft meant that delivery trucks often needed to be staffed by two drivers at an additional cost.

Time lost and delay in deliveries were important economic costs. Other costs were absence of good street lighting and adequate police surveillance. Women interviewed in Puebla were loath to work in early morning hours or after nightfall.

La Malinche, mestizaje and presidencialismo

The seeds of Mexico’s faulty state were planted 500 years ago. I consider myself well informed in matters of history and geography, yet I was not prepared for what I discovered. With apologies for oversimplifying a complex subject, Mexico is not a Western offshoot like Canada. My cultural roots are in Western Europe and North America. In Paris, New York or Montreal, cities in which I have lived, basic cultural parameters – relation to time and power for example – are not fundamentally different. They are different in Mexico.

To understand, we need to start with Mexico’s founding myth. The city of Puebla lies below one of Mexico’s most famous volcanoes, popularly called La Malinche, named after the indigenous (Nahua) woman, born circa 1500, who became Cortés’s translator, adviser and mistress. She gave birth to a son by Cortés, the first Mestizo, laying the foundation of the Mexican nation. La Malinche remains a controversial figure in Mexican history; depending on one’s perspective, she was a tragically abused native woman raped by a brutal conquistador or a conniving whore who collaborated with the invader. In either view, Mexicans are the children of the illicit relationship between the invader and his willing (or unwilling) victim.

Mexicans view the “discovery” of America in different terms than most Canadians and Americans. Their national history does not begin with the arrival of Europeans. The conquered Aztec nation, unlike the less sedentary nations farther north, was a great civilization in its own right. Teotihuacan’s majestic pyramids are visible evidence of the civilizations that preceded the Spanish, of which every Mexican is justly proud – how someone English or French might view Rome’s Colosseum. Rare is the Mexican who does not have indígena blood. With whom does one identify: the conqueror or the conquered? The unresolved answer is at the root of the deepest political divisions, in Mexico and much of Latin America. El pueblo are pitted against hispanized urban elites. The present crisis in Peru (see Maxwell Cameron’s accompanying article) is an example.

La Conquista is viewed as a very different kind of historical event from the landing of the first French and English settlers in North America, although also not necessarily a happy one for indigenous peoples. La Conquista was – there is no kinder way to put it – an openly bloodthirsty and vengeful affair, one empire out to subjugate another, repeated a few years later in Peru with Francisco Pizarro’s subjugation of the Inca Empire. The year and nature of the conqueror also matter. Granada fell to Catholic armies in 1492, marking the final delivery – la Reconquista – of Spain from the Moors (Muslims). The conquistadors and the church that accompanied them to the New World saw themselves as continuing the same war. The first thing the invaders did in many cases was build a church on top of the local pyramid. Cholula, not far from Puebla, is a typical example, its Aztec pyramid surmounted by a chapel – an archeological site well worth visiting. The message was clear: my church has vanquished yours.

The objective of this crusader church and warrior class was, demonstrably, not to build a better society, without even considering notions of justice and democracy. A possible analogy is the slaveowning south in the United States, also built from the outset on institutionalized inequality. The encomienda system that allowed Spaniards to confiscate land and extract tribute from indígena populations, originally based on the practice of exacting tribute from Muslims and Jews during the Reconquista, was not far from slavery. However, the White population of the southern United States saw itself (and itself alone, of course) as heir to a legacy of elected, responsible government. This was missing in New Spain, which brings me to my next point.

One cannot inherit a nonexistent legacy. Whatever its other achievements, Spain had no democratic legacy, however limited, to bequeath to its colonies. The Aztec legacy was no less authoritarian, and no less bloody. A friend of mine, citing the blood-soaked effigies of Jesus in Puebla’s baroque churches and the ritual blood sacrifices of the Aztecs, once remarked that the Aztecs and 16th-century Spaniards were made for each other. Now let me jump to the present with some amateur social psychology. During my Puebla sojourn, few differences struck me more than the perception and use of power, not least in my university. Relationships, especially where money and jobs were at play, were personalized to a degree I had hitherto not known. The rector had discretionary powers and funds, which a Canadian rector can only dream of. The rector directly appointed faculty and bestowed research and travel funds. The length of time spent in the rector’s antechamber waiting for an audience (time is an instrument of power) was a good indicator of one’s position in the hierarchy.

The personalization of power – facilitated by the adoption in most Latin American republics of the U.S. presidential system – runs through all levels of Mexican polity: municipal and state governments, labour unions … The concept of an independent civil service remains alien to much of Latin America. I witnessed the spoils system at the municipal and state level: the complete turnover of technical and professional personnel with each new governor or mayor. Each incoming administration literally starts from scratch: new personnel, new computers and, of course, new contacts and subcontracts to be handed out. Connections, not competence, determine allocation of jobs. This is not a recipe for efficient government – even without mentioning the incentive to outright theft.

But let me resume my history lesson, skipping a few centuries. Following a bloody civil war (1910–20), the defining event was the advent of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional. Known as the PRI (the party had other names during its earlier years in power, but remains remembered under this label), it ruled Mexico until 2000 and is often dubbed la dictadora perfecta (the perfect dictatorship). I witnessed the last decade of PRI rule. While not a totalitarian state on the Soviet model, Mexico was nonetheless a dictatorship built on a well-oiled system of patronage and control. The press was not so much censored as bought. It was indeed a perfect dictatorship, providing order, stability and peaceful transitions of power (and spoils) from one presidential term to the next. Each president regally anointed his successor, his (rigged) election a foregone conclusion. The anointing of a successor was popularly called el dedazo (the pointing finger). Presidents were elected for fixed six-year terms (sexenios) and could only serve one term.

Perhaps the most poisoned legacy PRI bequeathed Mexico was a public education system where corrupt teachers’ unions allocated jobs; qualifications were a secondary consideration. The extreme case, still not abolished during my stay, was hereditary appointment where teachers saw it as their right to pass on their teaching slot to their offspring with no regard to qualifications. Unions have systematically fought off attempts to introduce entrance requirements or evaluations. The results can be seen in low rankings of student performance in the OECD Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).¹⁴ Among 79 countries, the most recent PISA results rank Mexico 53rd for student proficiency in mathematics, 55th in science and 52nd in reading. No Mexican university ranks in the top 200 on the latest Shanghai international ranking of universities (Canada counts eight). Nor for that matter does a university in any other Hispanic American country.¹⁵

Back to the future

AMLO is a product of the PRI. It appears he wants to return to it, as do many Mexicans. AMLO is a child of le Mexique profond who speaks no English and, I am told, does not like to travel and has little interest in the outside world. At heart a conservative with the obligatory dose of leftist nationalist rhetoric, he sees himself as spokesman for the forgotten masses, the eternal victims of venal elites and their discredited political parties. AMLO’s election in 2018 owes much to Mexico’s bungled (in my view) transition to democracy. Vicente Fox (2000–06), the first freely elected president, missed his chance to reform Mexico. All presidents since have disappointed. AMLO’s predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto, left office under a cloud of corruption. AMLO made fighting corruption the centrepiece of his crusade to save Mexico. That message visibly resonates with el pueblo he purports to represent.¹⁶ He has displayed modesty (at least for material comforts), for example eschewing the presidential palace in favour of a simple apartment downtown. Here, finally, is a man of the people.

Yet, behind this modest crusader lies a conventional autocrat who yearns for a return to presidencialismo. He is openly nostalgic for the years when Pemex, the state oil corporation and crown jewel of the PRI, was a prime source of money, patronage and votes. It had a monopoly on oil exploration, refining and retailing. His attempt to restore that monopoly by appointing loyalists to the Energy Regulatory Board is currently the object of a formal dispute with the United States and Canada under the U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement.¹⁷ He has appointed loyalists to other key institutions as well, not least the central bank. He has shown little taste for reforming the education system. He has been no more successful than his predecessors in reducing violence and is even less inclined to take on the drug cartels.¹⁸ Journalists who criticize the cartels do so at risk of their lives. Mexico has the world record for number of journalists killed.¹⁹ None of this bodes well for the Mexican economy.

AMLO is in the process of further weakening Mexico’s young democratic institutions.²⁰ He signed a law earlier this year reducing the budget and mandate of the National Electoral Institute (Instituto Nacional Electoral, or INE). If it comes into effect, future elections will be less fair.²¹ He has increased the power of the military.²² AMLO’s attack on democratic institutions should have surprised no one. He never hid his autocratic proclivities, long holding a grudge against INE and falsely asserting that the 2006 election was stolen, Trump avant la lettre. I was in Puebla when AMLO stubbornly refused to recognize the election results, despite no evidence of fraud.²³ His role in undermining the confidence of Mexicans in their institutions, in 2006 and subsequently, distresses me greatly.

Whether AMLO’s party (the Movimiento Regeneración Nacional or Morena), founded in 2013, will survive him after his obligatory departure in 2024 remains an open question. The party’s likely candidate and current frontrunner for the 2024 presidential election is Claudia Sheinbaum, mayor of Mexico City. Let me end on a positive note. Perhaps Mexico will finally get a president who has the will and political acumen to reform Mexico’s institutions. Wouldn’t it be nice if the next president is a woman, and Jewish to boot?


¹ On Mexico’s democratic backslide, see: Denise Dresser, “Mexico’s Dying Democracy: AMLO and the Toll of Authoritarian Populism,” Foreign Affairs, November/December 2022. Ms. Dresser is a leading Mexican intellectual.

² A sentiment of repeated defeat is deeply engraved in the Mexican psyche. Los Yanquis captured half of Mexico’s territory in a hopeless war in the 1840s and remain inexplicably richer. What have we done wrong?

³ Huntington does not include Haiti in Latin America, considering it a special case. I shall refrain from commenting on Haiti, although I know it fairly well. See Henry Milner’s article in this issue.

⁴ Cien años de soledad (1967) is considered the masterpiece of Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez, winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize for literature. The novel recounts the saga of the fictitious Buendía family, seen as a metaphor for Latin America, trapped by history in a narrative and mindset from it is unable to extricate itself.

⁵ Purchasing power parity (PPP) exchange rates enable comparison of countries’ national per capita GDP through a “basket of goods” approach. The PPP exchange rate of a country with the benchmark country (usually the United States) is such that the country’s per capita GDP expressed in national currencies can be compared with the U.S. dollars required to buy the basket of goods in the United States. For example, if the “basket” costs $1,000 USD in the United States, the PPP exchange rate of the Mexican peso can be calculated by determining how much the “basket” costs in Mexico using pesos. If it costs, say, 10,000 pesos to buy the “basket,” then the PPP exchange rate is $1 USD = 10 Mexican pesos.

⁶ Like figure 1, the series ends in 2018. Recent IMF estimates show no significant change in relative positions.

⁷ In the March 2023 UN resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Nicaragua was the only Latin American side with Russia and vote against. El Salvador abstained, as (predicably) did Cuba.

⁸ For my take on Argentina’s story, see “Buenos Aires: The Urban Costs of National Folly,” pp. 36–46 in my The Wealth and Poverty of Cities: Why Nations Matter (New York: Oxford Unversity Press, 2020).

⁹ Inflation Rate – America – By Country (

¹⁰ Credit Rating – Countries – List (

¹¹ Kevin Sieff and Whitney Leamiing, Destroying Maya Treasures to Build a Tourist Train, Washington Post, December 9, 2022.

¹² See for example: J.D. Sachs and A.M. Warner, “The Curse of Natural Resources,” European Economic Review, Vol. 45, Nos. 4–6 (2001), pp. 827–838; W.F. Maloney, “Missed Opportunities: Innovation and Resource-Based Growth in Latin America” in D. Lederman, and W.F. Maloney, eds., Natural Resources: Neither Curse nor Destiny (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007). For a Canadian perspective, see J. Dubé and M. Polèse, “Resource Curse and Regional Development: Does Dutch Disease Apply to Local Economies? Evidence from Canada,” Growth and Change, Vol. 46, No. 1 (2015), pp. 38–57.

¹³ For complete results see M. Freire and M. Polèse, Connecting Cities with Macro-economic Concerns: The Missing Link (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2003). San José, Costa Rica, and Belo Horizonte, Brazil were also studied.

¹⁴ PISA assessses, every three years, a random sample of students aged 15, in all OECD member and partner countries, Programme for International Student Assessment Results.

¹⁵ The University of São Paulo does make the top 200, but it is not Hispanic.

¹⁶ My son-in-law Miguel hails originally from a small village in Oaxaca. AMLO remains generally popular, I am told. Although he has lost points recently, polls continue to confirm his popularity.

¹⁷ See “Mexico’s Energy Policy is Bad for the Country—and the Planet, The Economist, November 18, 2022; “Nothing Can Shake AMLO’s Fossil-Fuel Fixation,” The Economist, May 21, 2020.

¹⁸ Mexico Crime Rate & Statistics 1990–2023.

¹⁹ International Press Institute, 66 Journalists Killed in 2022 Amid Decline in Press Safety.

²⁰ Mexico ranks 89th in The Economist’s most recent democracy ranking, not far from Honduras (91) and El Salvador (93) – not a good place to be. Mexico’s democracy ranking has deteriorated since 2018, moving from the “flawed democracy” class to “hybrid regime” The world’s most, and least, democratic countries in 2022 | The Economist.

²¹ The Supreme Court has since temporarily frozen the law, making it inoperative, pending a legal challenge by INE. See also “An ‘Electoral Reform’ in Mexico Will Make Elections Less Safe: President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is Nobbling the Electoral Commission,” The Economist, December 20, 2022.

²² Mexico’s President Gives Power and Money to the Armed Forces, The Economist, October 13, 2022.

²³ Many of my “progressive” associates at the time proudly displayed AMLO “This is my president” posters in their offices; not very different from “Stop the steal” some 14 years later, but on the other end of the political spectrum. Most, I’m sure, voted for AMLO in 2018.