Mexico - Guacamaya leaks
AMLO’s control of the daily narrative has been broken by the ongoing leaks of sensitive military communications.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has spent the first four years of his presidency dominating the media coverage by setting a clear message of the day during his morning press conference. Instead of dodging his critics, he engaged them. The power and influence of the presidency and AMLO’s control of that morning event creates the image that he is winning, even when his opponents make strong critiques and the president’s defense relies on faulty logic.
Since late September, however, Mexico’s media narrative has instead been shaped by the Guacamaya leaks. We originally covered these leaks in a newsletter for paying subscribers last Monday. The hits have kept coming. New information has been published nearly every day for the last two weeks.
There is a lot of damning information within the leaks. That includes:
The continued use of Pegasus spyware to target journalists and activists.
Efforts by the Mexican military to cover up significant human rights abuses.
The current interior minister appears to have worked with individuals close to the CJNG when he was governor of Tabasco.
The coverup of the president’s health problems.
A pattern of sexual assault within the military.
Improper use of armed forces health services by public officials, friends, and relatives close to AMLO during the height of the pandemic.
The sale of army weapons, tactical equipment, and grenades to criminal groups.
Potentially unstable ground in the areas around Tren Maya.
AMLO’s militarization and his willingness to involve the military in civilian issues including the fact they will run a national airline.
Internal deliberations about critical decisions by the government including the release of El Chapo’s son.
The overall mismanagement of the security situation.
No single story that has leaked has damaged AMLO. The president’s approval ratings aren’t taking an immediate hit from any of this information. But the loss of control of the narrative will gradually eat away at the president’s support if he can’t regain control. It places the president in the unfamiliar position of having to respond day after day, no longer being able to proactively shape and shift the narrative.
On top of the leaks, two other issues have detracted from AMLO’s control of the narrative.
Mexico’s secretary of the economy resigned last week over an apparent disagreement with the government’s security policies. Given the general weakness of Mexico’s economy under AMLO, the loss of a key connection to the business community will harm AMLO’s ability to portray his administration as an effective manager of economic growth.
In addition, the government’s efforts to expand militarization are being shoved through Congress despite significant criticisms from civil society. AMLO wouldn’t appreciate the comparison, but there is a clear parallel between how he is managing this militarization debate and how Peña Nieto managed the energy reform. Using political leverage and control to implement reforms without convincing the broader public will lead to discontent down the line. AMLO may not necessarily feel that discontent during his sexenio, but his likely hand-picked successor will.
It’s not fair to judge the military’s entire strategy based on any one poorly written document, but this one is bad and gets worse the longer you look at it and think about it.