Newsweek “Covers” Mexico

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Newsweek pulls off a neat rhetorical trick in its coverage of the Mexico election:

The ex-mayor [Andrés Manuel López Obrador] vowed to challenge the result before a federal election tribunal; his infuriated supporters threatened to take to the streets. Their resistance could muddle the political picture for months, confusing not just Mexicans but outside observers who had looked to the ballot for a clear indication of which way Latin America was tilting—toward the leftist populism of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, or the pro-market, pro-U.S. stance of Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe.

Obrador, of course, isn’t like Chávez at all, apart from the fact that they’re both, broadly speaking, “leftists.” But Felipe Calderón’s supporters have been putting up images linking Chávez and Obrador for weeks, as a campaign tactic to drive down the ex-mayor’s ratings. And Newsweek dutifully laps it up. Nicely done.

On a related note, do read Mark Weisbrot’s column today on whether rule by the left would be better for Mexico. Ultimately, the much-feared leftists running countries in South America—Nestor Kirchner in Argentina, Evo Morales in Bolivia, and yes, even Chávez—have been doing pretty well, while Calderón is promising to pursue the same policies that have left Mexico with a stagnant growth rate for two decades. Figuring out why some countries are doing well and others aren’t is never an easy task, but the idea that a leftist president in Mexico would spell doom for the country is nonsensical.

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