During Felipe Calderón’s tenure, the image of Andrés Manuel López Obrador was slowly rebuilt after his 2006 electoral defeat and subsequent blocking of the Paseo de la Reforma avenue. On the other hand, although the administration of the former President never really took its eyes off the then-PRD politician, the truth is that it never really decided to strike a definitive blow. Nevertheless, López Obrador kept on voicing his opposition towards he who considered stole an electoral victory from him, forged a pantomime that was called “the legitimate government” and rode the bandwagon embodied by the discomfort over the violence and the failed strategy of tackling organized crime. Likewise, the Tabasco politician built his project of forming his own party where not only he would keep away from the inner struggles within PRD but he could also access to financial resources without the need of sharing it with other groups. With the official registry of the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) as a political party on July 18th of the current year, López Obrador achieved a long-sought target which would apparently be strengthened with the overall national environment. It was expected that the interregnum of López Obrador of, firstly as the losing Presidential candidate that is trying to rebuild himself and later, as a nonpartisan activist, would equal to that of a leader of a party with structure, budget and, of course, the possibility of competing within the electoral arena.
López Obrador expected that the thronged rally carried out at Mexico City’s Zócalo on October 26th would turn out to be one of his founding official acts. As a matter of fact, his original agenda set out two essential issues: first, to ask for the resignation of President Peña Nieto before December 1st, which would – hypothetically – summon Presidential elections in 2015; second, to press the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJN) for not declaring the potential unconstitutionality of the popular consultation requested by MORENA a few weeks ago, a query that would seek to repeal the energy reform. However, the political crisis triggered by the murders in Iguala as well as the forced disappearance of 43 students in Ayotzinapa on September 26th was the ideal opportunity for López Obrador to rekindle passion on his event at the capital’s main plaza. However, the MORENA de-facto leader may have made his first mistake within this new career stage.
Right away, there were voices that accused López Obrador of backing up the candidacy of José Luis Abarca, the castaway Mayor of Iguala who was indicted by the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (PGR) as the intellectual author of the events of September 26th, when he ran for office in 2012. The debate also related his support towards Ángel Aguirre for the elections held in January 2011, where the then-Senator on leave won the Governorship of Guerrero. In a similar vein, but with a more formal and politically symbolic character, major PRI stakeholders – excluding President Peña – such as the party’s national leader, César Camacho and its parliamentary leaders in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, Emilio Gamboa and Manlio Fabio Beltrones, criticized López Obrador’s proposal of creating a Truth Commission to clarify the Ayotzinapa case. In words of Deputy Beltrones and clearly referring to the Tabasco politician, if somebody knows something or has something to say on the issue he should simply do it: there is no need to create a special body for the aforementioned task. The media chatter of these and other statements clouded MORENA’s platform and gave a triple strike for López Obrador: a revival of forces against him, doubts over some – perhaps a few, perhaps many – of his followers and his transformation on a convenient distractor in moments where the opposition against the federal government as well as PRD’s dominant group, “Los Chuchos”.
Even if López Obrador manages to disassociate himself from all potential complicity due to his acts or lack of thereof regarding Abarca and Aguirre, he has already received a wake-up call for the 2015 elections. López Obrador’s wind of opportunity is not a stranger to the erosion suffered by PRD and PAN with their affiliation to the Pact for Mexico and their collaboration with the federal government. Despite of all of the aforementioned, the problem for López Obrador is that his old dichotomy rhetoric of unblemished politicians versus vilified politicians has finally led to the question of whether his agenda will actually be able to support a more sophisticated government plan to face the current problem. This case demonstrates that López Obrador is part of the political class he has tried to distance himself from.