You Say You Want A Revolution: Mexico

You Say You Want A Revolution: Mexico

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (widely known as AMLO) was elected Mexico's president on the promise to bring about a "peaceful but radical transformation."


Unfortunately, as "change agents" often do, he's struggling with the transition from campaign poetry to the prose of governing. In just six weeks as president, he's made three noteworthy rookie mistakes.

Mistake #1 – Forgetting that plans have unintended consequences. Criminal gangs steal large quantities of gasoline from Mexico's pipelines. It's a growing problem that deprives the government of much-needed revenue and forces prices higher for consumers. The country suffered 10,363 pipeline thefts last year, up from just 186 in 2012, according to the state oil company Pemex.

AMLO has responded with a temporary pipeline shutdown intended to help investigators locate trouble spots. Instead of transiting the country by pipeline, gasoline is now being directed toward consumers by truck. The unsurprising result? Furious citizens faced with a serious gasoline shortage across a half-dozen of the country's provinces. Lopez Obrador then told the public not to panic, a sure way to instantly lengthen lines at the pump. Shortages will likely continue for (at least) several weeks.

Mistake #2 – Undermining the ability of your own government to execute your ambitious plans. Lopez Obrador won the election in part on a promise to use the power of government to improve people's lives – by encouraging the private sector to boost wages and reasserting control over Mexico's natural resources. But to cut wasteful spending, his Morena party has approved a law that prevents any public employee from earning more than the president ($5,000 per month).

Not surprisingly, significant salary and benefit cuts have persuaded many public employees to move to the private sector or to simply retire. Effective reform requires talented people who understand the systems that need to be changed. Hollowing out the bureaucracy might save money, but it directly undermines the president's government-centered approach to problem-solving.

Mistake #3 – Telling voters that terrible problems aren't so bad. According to the newspaper Reforma, the number of murders committed by criminal gangs rose 65 percent from the last month of the previous president's term to the first month under Lopez Obrador. The president pushed back by questioning the statistics' reliability. Homicide numbers, he insists, should include all murders, not just those committed by organized crime.

Fair enough, and Reforma can fairly be accused of sensationalizing numbers that may later need to be revised, but the government's quibbling response doesn't build confidence that Lopez Obrador recognizes the scale of this deadly problem.

The bottom-line: Transformational attention requires as much careful thought as political courage.

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Back in August, when the Taliban took over, we asked whether anyone in the international community would recognize them. Now it looks like things are heading that way.

This week, the Kremlin hosted a summit with the Taliban that was attended by China, India and Pakistan, as well as all five Central Asian Republics.

The domestically-focused US, however, wasn't there. The US continues to maintain that the Taliban can't be trusted. But does it matter? In 2021 does a Taliban-led government even need American recognition to function and thrive?

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Taking place on October 21 and 22, the Sustainability Leaders Summit will go beyond preexisting narratives and debate priorities for governments and industries ahead of COP26. Placing the spotlight on Asia's role in the global sustainability agenda, the event will address whether Asian countries and companies can achieve shared sustainability goals, and what is needed to help get them there. The summit will be co-hosted by Tak Niinami, CEO of Suntory Holdings, and Ian Bremmer, founder and president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. We will address three key questions: How can Asian countries, with the help of the private sector, achieve shared Sustainability Goals? Why does this matter? And what are the policy changes needed to bring it about?

Attendance is free and open to the public. Register to attend.

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For Kevin Rudd, former Australian PM and now CEO of the Asia Society, the science on climate change is pretty much done, so the only unresolved issues are tech and — more importantly — lack of political leadership. He can't think of a single national political leader who can fill the role, and says the only way to get political action on climate is to mobilize public opinion.

Rudd joined for the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit livestream conversation sponsored by Suntory. Watch here and register here to watch part two Friday 10/22 at 8 am ET.

The minutiae of supply chains makes for boring dinner table talk, but it's increasingly becoming a hot topic of conversation now that packages are taking much longer to arrive in the consumer-oriented US, while prices of goods soar.

With the issue unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, right-wing media have dubbed President Biden the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, conjuring images of sad Christmas trees surrounded by distraught children whose holiday gifts are stuck somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

It hasn't been a good run for Uncle Joe in recent months. What issues are tripping him up?

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Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the NBA's latest rift with China, Brazil's Senate investigation, and COVID booster shots.

China wipes Boston Celtics from NBA broadcast after the "Free Tibet" speech from Enes Kanter. Is NBA boxing itself into a corner?

Nice mixed sports metaphor there. NBA has some challenges because they are of course the most progressive on political and social issues in the United States among sports leagues, but not when it comes to China, their most important international market. And you've seen that with LeBron James telling everyone about we need to learn better from the Communist Party on issues like Hong Kong and how Daryl Morey got hammered for taking his stance in favor of Hong Kong democracy. Well, Enes Kanter's doing the same thing and he's a second-string center. Didn't even play yesterday and still the Chinese said that they were not going to air any Boston Celtics games. Why? Because he criticized the Chinese government and had some "Free Tibet" sneakers. This is a real problem for a lot of corporations out there, but particularly publicly, the NBA. Watch for a bunch of American politicians to make it harder for the NBA going forward, saying how dare you kowtow to the Chinese when you're all about "Black Lives Matter" inside the United States. No fun.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

A Trump media platform? Is this for real?

This week, President Trump announced his potential return to social media through the creation of his own digital media platform that's going to merge with an existing publicly-traded company in a deal known as a SPAC. These deals are increasingly popular for getting access to capital, and it seems like that's where President Trump is headed.

The publicly-traded company's stock was up on the news, but it's really hard to see this coming together. The Trump media company claims it wants to go up against not only Facebook and Twitter, but companies like Amazon and cloud computing and even Disney providing a safe space for conservatives to share their points of view. The fact of the matter is, conservatives do quite well on existing social media platforms when they aren't being kicked off for violating the terms of service, and other conservative social media platforms that have attempted to launch this year haven't really gone off the ground.

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Protests in Sudan: Protests are again shaking the Sudanese capital, as supporters of rival wings of the transitional government take to the streets. Back in 2019, after popular demonstrations led to the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir, a deal was struck between civilian activists and the army, in which a joint civilian-military government would run the country until fresh elections could be held in 2023. But now supporters of the military wing are calling on it to dissolve the government entirely, while supporters of the civilian wing are counter-protesting. Making matters worse, a pro-military tribal leader in Eastern Sudan has set up a blockade which is interrupting the flow of goods and food to the capital. The US, which backs the civilian wing, has sent an envoy to Khartoum as tensions rise, while Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are all vying for a piece as well.

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