It’s 11 AM.
I wake up from my bed and check my phone.
A few Mexican chicks writing to me “feliz cumple!” and my family and friends back home doing so as well in English.
Go through my messages.
And I stretch a bit – thinking about going back to sleep but there’s a bunch of noise outside.
Probably won’t happen.
I get on Tinder – swipe on a few chicks and get up to check the window.
Seems like there’s some random homeless person making a bunch of noise – maybe having an episode or something.
I stumble into the bathroom – a tiny bit hungover from the vodka last night.
But not as hungover as I got the following morning because….
It’s my birthday.
Probably my most memorable birthday down here was when I experienced the September 19, 2017 earthquake in Mexico City.
As you can read about here.
So I get dressed.
And have a few drinks with a few folks at a nearby bar that is just around the corner of where I live.
Then head back to my apartment after some drinks to chill.
Later that day…
It’s around 4 PM now more or less.
I start working out and later take a shower.
And I figured I might as well get a nice meal at Chilis.
So I get ready and head out by around 6 PM.
The Chilis near me is close to Bellas Artes – right next to it.
So as I am getting close and onto the street of where it is…
I see a bunch of police standing in line blocking the path going forward.
“What gives?” I thought.
Well, if you read in Spanish, you can see here that there was some big protest that day against AMLO.
I didn’t know that at the time.
But I asked a random older guy close to me what is going on.
And he tells me there is some protest against AMLO.
To which he goes on “I don’t know why they are protesting against him….poverty, corruption, whatever the issue of the day is…”
Then he waves his hand at them and goes “they’re all paid off…”
“By who?” I respond.
“By whoever – PRI, PAN, some millionaire maybe or whoever…”
Well, here’s a photo of what I saw in that moment.
And looking beyond the police officers, I can see there are normal folks walking around on the other side who might not be part of the protest.
So I’m not letting this ruin my fancy meal at Chilis!
I mean, this is like my fanciest meal I’ve had all year so it has to happen…
So I turn around and basically find a way to walk through a space between Bellas Artes Museum and the little park they have next to it.
As you can see here.
Where I was able to finally get my fancy meal at Chilis.
As you can see the meal here – it was good.
A bit interesting and relevant to our COVID times – they didn’t have physical menus for me.
I had to use my phone to see the menu online.
From what I knew, that’s their way of limiting COVID so that so many different customers don’t have to touch the same menu.
Which is a bit illogical I think given they gave me a used piece of paper that had a code on it that I had to have my phone scan to see the digital menu.
So wouldn’t people be exchanging COVID that way also? Is it any different than just a physical menu?
Well, with enough time in Mexico, you realize a lot of things don’t necessarily have to make sense…
They just have to appear like they make sense because so many things down here are often superficial, illogical and only meant to give the impression that it is sophisticated and well-thought out.
Even if it’s not…
A really funny example of something similar in Brazil was written by a well-known scientist named Richard Feynman regarding the education system in that country.
As you can read about here.
Anyway, I digress…
As I am finishing my meal, I can hear the protests just outside my window are getting more intense.
So I figured I might as well get outside and check it out.
Which ended up becoming a 4 hour event for me.
So on the way outside, I got a look into what was going on…
Encountering the FRENA Protest
So I’m outside now right in front of the entrance to the Chilis near Bellas Artes.
I see a large crowd of people standing around each other…
Some dude carrying a sign that you can see here regarding water issues in Chihuahua.
A woman holding up a sign that says something like “I love AMLO” or whatever with a picture of AMLO’s face on it.
Which I tried taking a picture of from the distance but she kept lowering it out of view every time I did.
Some dude blowing into a horn also…
A bunch of tents around us…
A policeman in the group trying to calm things down from what I saw…
And some homeless looking dude behind me yelling “son maricones!!! Son maricones!!! JAJA JAJA AJAJAJA JAAJAJA JAJAJAJ AJAJAJA JAJAAJA”
Mixed in with all of that were also some street vendors.
One dude in particular who walked right behind the large gathering and put like a wooden stool or something on the ground and placed some small snacks on it…
“10 peso, 10 pesos……!!!!” was his announcement for anyone interested.
Which gave me a chuckle – that’s the real hustle. Making a buck while everyone is at each other’s throat.
So I figured I might as well get a better understanding of what is going on.
Here’s a photo also of the scene so far below here.
So I ask one random dude what is going on and he seems to be like me – not really part of the show but interested.
Some street vendor selling cotton candy from the looks of it…
Tells me “there are two groups here – one for AMLO and one against.”
And he explains how the people in the tents are against AMLO…
But then another group for AMLO came up and are now arguing with the anti-AMLO group.
So I’m watching the event unfold more but curious about why they are protesting against AMLO.
To which I see some random older man with a Mexican flag tucked in his backpack or whatever…
And assumed he was part of the protest.
So I walk up to him and ask him what is going on.
Well, he explains that there is this movement he is part of named FRNEA.
Which, funny enough, I never heard of in my 3 year so far in Mexico.
But I also never paid much attention to the politics of this country outside of the Zapatista movement, which I find interesting.
As you can read about here.
So anyway, there’s this movement called FRENA – which stands for the National Anti-AMLO Front.
That, from what I read later, is basically meant to try and place a lot of pressure on AMLO to resign.
And apparently has support from a guy named Gilberto Lozano who is a businessman and you can read more about him here.
So anyway, the guy with the Mexican flag is explaining to me basically the following as I am listening to him…
That the protest here has people all over from Mexico – from Toluca, Estado, Chihuahua, Puebla, etc..
And while they all have different reasons for why they are here, the main issues that seem to be driving people are:
- A general dislike of AMLO and an effort to encourage him to resign.
- An issue regarding the government not helping enough kids with cancer to get medications and corruption surrounding that.
- A confrontation between protesters and the National Guard in Chihuahua regarding the exportation of water to other countries in a time that Chihuahua is having a drought.
And among the other protesters I talked to later, those three issues seemed to be the common thread among them.
Mixed in with other personal issues each person might have against AMLO.
One last point that this guy wanted to emphasize to me – that “we are not political! We are not funded by anyone!”
Though I never asked if they were funded by anyone, he really wanted to drive home that point to me and repeated it several times throughout our conversation.
Well, I wished him the best and carried on watching the protest unfold.
With another homeless person – this time a bit more drunk or on drugs – yelling a bunch of random shit behind all of us and laughing – JAJA JAJA JAJA JAJA !!!!!!
At this point, I figured I should check out other areas of the protest.
As you should know this protest basically was set up all along a long street.
From where Bellas Artes Museum to very close to where the Revolution Monument is.
With tents set up all along that.
So I walk towards the direction of where Bellas Artes Museum is.
And see some interesting signs that you can see here below.
As I am taking a picture of the last one, I see another older gentleman looking at me but just casually walking around behind the tent of where that sign is.
I figured I could probably ask him a few questions also.
So we get started.
And by the way, everyone I talked to during this protest seemed pretty polite and open to conversation.
That’s not always the case with social movements in my experience as most of the ones I am familiar with before FRENA were always a little bit suspicious about my intentions.
Mostly in regards to if I work for the government or anything.
But the people I met in FRNEA were, to be fair, much more open to having a conversation.
So now talking with two more guys of this protest…
So I begin talking with one middle-aged gentleman about what he is doing here.
Which really was the main question I asked most of these folks here since I didn’t know anything about the protest beforehand and just wanted to know why different people came out to protest.
At any rate, I explain to the guy at first that I had been talking to some other protesters and gave him the basic idea of what I understood this protest to be about.
The three issues basically lined out above.
He agreed with that assessment but disagreed on one statement I made – “we are not against or anti-AMLO, we are for Mexico!”
Which is a bit funny because the protest he is part of is run by a movement that calls itself “anti-AMLO.”
But fair enough…
I didn’t challenge him on that one because I didn’t even know what FRENA stood for until the last guy I spoke to at this protest.
Anyway, he claimed that Mexico is being sucked dry of its resources by AMLO…
That AMLO is connected with drug dealers…
And during my conversation with him…
Another man walked up to us and joined in on the conversation.
To which this second guy started going off about how AMLO is going to turn Mexico into a second Venezuela!
Which that also seemed to be a common talking point among the protesters – that AMLO is a dictator who is going to turn Mexico into another Venezuela.
He goes on about AMLO’s relationship with other leftist leaders like Maduro of Venezuela to Evo Morales of Bolivia.
Which, to be fair, is an accurate criticism – AMLO did, for example, allow Evo Morales of Bolivia to live in Mexico after he had a bit of trouble back home.
Which you can read about here.
Then some coffee seller walks by and the guy asks me if I want some coffee but I declined.
And during this whole conversation…
One thing they REALLY wanted to emphasize to me – despite me never bringing it up – was that “THIS PROTEST IS NOT POLITICAL! WE ARE NOT FUNDED BY ANYONE!!”
“DID YOU HEAR ME?!?! NOT FUNDED BY ANYONE!!”
Though I never brought it up to this point, they really seemed clear on driving home that message.
Granted, I don’t agree necessarily that none of this is political – obviously trying to force a sitting president to resign sounds kinda political to me…
But the “we are not funded by anyone!”
Well, I don’t have any proof otherwise.
But after living in Mexico sometime, that is something you see down here…
People being paid to vote or protest for certain political causes.
For example, a neighbor that I have right now who is from Mexico was telling me a few weeks ago that he was once paid by some political party to protest.
I forgot which one – PRI, PAN or whoever.
I can also remember another Mexican chick I went on a date with who had a financial relationship with some political party down here also.
So it does happen.
And, if you remember, was the accusation by the first gentleman I met before I got my fancy meal at Chilis…
Well, as one of the two guys is emphasizing again that they are not funded by anyone..
I bring up that first guy I met.
Which then provokes a funny response.
They both then go on “ah noooo….ese pendejo….no no…..todo lo q dice es mentira!!!! No no…..”
“Nah fuck that bitch….no!!!!....everything he says is a lie…no way!!!”
While they wave their hands in the general direction of where that guy was in disgust…
“No way hermano!! No way! We aren’t funded…but you know who is funded?!? THEY ARE! THAT GUY IS! THE PRO AMLO PEOPLE!......”
“We ain’t the bad guys…THEY THE BAD GUYS!!!”
Anyway, at this point…
I was really starting to wonder if this protest was funded or not…
For some reasons we will get to below when I talk with someone else..
But also because, up to this point (and afterwards as well), they constantly were trying to reinforce the idea that they are not funded.
Even though it was never brought up to me.
It’d be like a nervous criminal who is sweating and telling a cop “uh….no officer….I don’t have any cocaine…uh no….no….I PROMISE YOU!!”
Even though the cop was just chilling and didn’t even suspect it or bring it up.
Sp I’m starting to have my doubts because the constant unprovoked emphasis on how they don’t have any outside money just seemed a bit much.
They both go on about other reasons why they don’t like AMLO.
One of them being insecurity and bad cops.
Which, again, is a fair point to a degree.
You can definitely argue that AMLO has fucked that up – in situations like when he released the son of El Chapo.
As you can read here.
But you can also ask yourself – how much of this is AMLO’s fault?
We’ve had drug violence in Mexico for decades now and while it has been going up…
And while the buck does stop with the president as most say…
The president isn’t a dictator either – and he’s going up against powerful cartel groups with billions of dollars behind them.
And here’s the thing – AMLO can take them on with violence and you will have more bloodshed in the streets guaranteed.
Now you can argue that is the right approach because they are criminals.
But that bloodshed in mass will be there.
Plus, when you take out one cartel, other cartels can form and then they compete with each other in bloodshed for the territory lost from the cartel that was eliminated.
To a outsider perspective, the drug cartels look like a Hydra – cut one head off, you get another one.
Or whack a mole – ht one mole…
Well fuck you, here’s 5 more!!!
I always wondered if it would be better for the Mexican government to play favorites – pick one cartel you want to align with it and team up with it to kill the other ones.
Then let the one you aligned with to control the distribution of drugs but then legalize them or decriminalize them and redirect the money spent on fighting cartels to help those addicted to not be addicted to drugs.
Then let the leaders of the cartel you aligned with to basically be a business owner of a more legal company that distributes those drugs but regulate it and take tax money from it.
While also encouraging a policy of getting the former low ranking members of the winning cartel to give up their guns so they don’t try to fuck shit up again – similar to what was going on in Colombia here.
But I’m not an expert on this topic – that’s just a theory on what may or may not work in regards to this situation.
Because the alternative to just playing whack a mole doesn’t seem to be very effective either.
But I digress…
Back to the story.
Corrupt Cops & Drug Cartels
So I brought up some of those thoughts above regarding how to handle the cartels and the decades long issue Mexico has had with them before AMLO.
They both understood where I was getting at but applied the old “the buck stops with the president” idea..
Which is fair enough.
But then I bring up the corrupt cop situation.
How do you deal with corrupt cops?
The response of one of the guys?
But I brought up my own experience with corrupt cops in Mexico.
As you can read here where on corrupt cop got me to pay a bribe of about 20 bucks near Cuatro Caminos area.
How do you deal with that?
Or better said – how would I have handled it better when reporting it to the police station probably wouldn’t have done anything?
You know, you got to have a process where ordinary citizens can have a reasonable expectation that reporting it will get the corrupt cop fired.
And where we won’t have to pay bribes from cops who can just accuse us of random crimes with no evidence and threaten us with jail time.
There’s a lot wrong with a criminal justice system that allows this type of behavior.
“Just throw them out wey!”
Which – yes, that would help – but I don’t think he had a real answer for how AMLO specifically can address it.
Which again goes to the fact that AMLO isn’t some god who can snap his fingers and fix everything over night.
At any rate, their response to just “throw them out!” felt like a similar response to how you end dementia.
How do you do that?
“Just end dementia bro. It’s easy. Fuck that AMLO bitch – he hasn’t ended dementia yet?!”
So their response didn’t seem very nuanced, realistic or detailed but that is what you can usually expect from those with a very hard ideological or partisan view.
Similar to the US – people who side hard with democrats or republicans and treat politics more like a football game than anything else.
Same shit here too.
Talking About the Protest
I was starting to get more curious about this movement itself.
When asked how many people they have here…
He throws out a number – maybe 1,000 to 2,000.
Which, based on the amount of tents they had, might be a reasonable guess.
And the pro-AMLO people?
He responds “ah they’re a bunch of losers…maybe 50 at most!”
Then I asked what their end goal was – which the obvious answer was “to get rid of AMLO!”
Which, to be honest, I don’t feel is very realistic but still…
He then goes on about how they want to protest at the Zocalo but the police are blocking the path – which is true.
And that it is their human right as Mexicans to protest in the Zocalo and how they have people from all over the country for different reasons protesting the president.
At any rate, I didn’t have any more questions for him in the moment and wanted to see other protesters.
Plus my phone was dying.
So I wished them good luck and went back to my apartment.
Which is like a 5 minute walk away to charge my phone and buy some beer at Oxxo – which, according to this article here…
Apparently the man behind FRENA – Gilberto Lozano – is the owner of Oxoo.
A bit ironic I suppose – assuming the theory is true that this movement is paid for or funded by Gilberto Lozano and others…
Then by buying beer at Oxxo, I am technically giving money to the protesters I saw.
Not saying I’m the shadow hand behind all of this but I might have helped contribute!
I charge my phone and head out by around 9 PM or so to visit the movement one more time before enjoying my night back at my place with my beer and vodka.
Heading Back to the FRENA Protest
Anyway, I got back to the protest and was near the front now right next to Bellas Artes Museum.
While standing there, I see some group of women singing in front of the cops.
And here’s a photo so far of where I am.
Well, I see this one woman and decide to get her opinion on why she doesn’t like AMLO.
Which, she definitely seem much more enthusiastic about her dislike of AMLO.
One of her issues with him was the argument that he violates the constitution all the time.
When asked how he violates the constitution…
She goes on about educational issues in Mexico and how AMLO has violated the constitution but didn’t go into too much detail but did give some examples.
Then she brings up some other folks standing around – another older woman, a random dude and two young Mexican folks – who looked a little bit younger than me in their 20s.
The other Mexican lady was nice but we didn’t get into a conversation.
The random dude she presented me to wasn’t able to go into detail very much about why he doesn’t like AMLO.
Then the two younger Mexican folks were basically speechless when I asked why they don’t like AMLO and also how they think AMLO could do better.
To a degree, I was starting to wonder at this point how many of the Mexicans here actually dislike AMLO or have real reasons against his policies.
If this protest was paid for to have hired protesters – which is the accusation some have – then I would suspect there’d be plenty who would not be very passionate about this and also not have much of an opinion.
Which, in hindsight over my entire experience that night…
It felt half-half roughly – like around a half or slightly more than that seemed to have a real opinion and the other half didn’t.
But keep in mind this isn’t a scientific study obviously – I only talked to a handful of people.
Though it would be something to consider if you were curious to look into if this protest is paid for anyway.
And that was a topic I brought up with the lady who was enthusiastic about this protest and who had an issue regarding AMLO’s policies on education.
Though obviously I didn’t say “are all of you just paid protesters?!”
The answer to that would be obvious – of course nobody would admit that.
But I asked her for example – “how did you guys afford all of these tents?”
There were tons of them all across the street – and, as you know, salaries are not high in Mexico.
Most job offers I see on the street are for jobs that pay like 200 to 300 bucks a month.
Of course, a tent isn’t necessarily a high purchase item but just in general..
The sleeping bags.
Any food costs..
The trip from faraway places like Chihuahua and all over Mexico to here..
To also taking time away from work especially to protest here..
And from what she said, they will be here until AMLO resigns.
Which could mean months or years if he never does.
So the question on how everyone here can afford did should be brought up.
“Oh, we paid for it ourselves! Everyone here used their own money for this.”
Which, to be fair, might be true – the overall cost per person to attend this protest definitely wouldn’t be much.
But given the salaries in Mexico and the time away from work…
It still leaves doubts in my mind – especially given the fact that every single person was tripping over themselves to convince me they weren’t paid for even though I never brought that topic up.
My conversation with her came to an end and I wished her the best of luck.
While I looked around me to make some simple observations so far…
For one, the police seemed bored and not really paying much attention to the protesters.
Looking at the phones, making jokes with each other, etc…
It didn’t feel like the intense protests you have been hearing about in the US these months.
Everything very peaceful.
Second, the women were still singing something in front of the police.
Third, there were a few older guys trying to have a conversation with the police about whatever.
Fourth, a few more tents were being set up – one behind me even as I was looking around.
Fifth, the movement as a whole definitely had a patriotic feel to it given the amount of Mexican flags everywhere.
Similar to what that one guy way before said about how “we are not ANTI-AMLO, we are FOR MEXICO!!!”
There definitely was a patriotic feel to the movement to a degree based on my conversations with the people here and the amount of flags.
Like the last woman I spoke to was telling me how “she is here to make sure young people like these two have a better Mexico!”
In reference to the two young Mexicans – a young woman and a young man – I mentioned earlier.
Anyway, I am looking around to see what is happening when I see this much older man walking by…
With a sign that he is carrying as you can see here below..
Essentially calling AMLO a lying dictator and he should go to jail…
One thing I found funny about the sign was the play on his name from AMLO to MALO.
MALO meaning bad.
Obviously, he is more creative with words than I am…
Well, I got talking with this guy also with the same old questions and a few more about his time here..
This guy has own issues with AMLO – in particular, the feeling that he is a dictator.
Now his logic for AMLO being a dictator is that the guy has control of the Legislative branch because, according to him, his party MORENA has more control there.
But though I didn’t ask – I did think to myself – that doesn’t necessarily make him a dictator. Assuming his MORENA party won the elections fair and square to control the Legislative branch, then that’s democracy.
The people voted. They won.
Better luck next time.
But given it is Mexico, I’m not sure if they won the elections fair and square – Mexico doesn't have the perfect democracy and has election issues like in other countries as you can read here for example.
Anyway, we keep talking but then get interrupted a few times by others..
First, there were two folks who were not part of the protest but were travelers from outside of CDMX that seemed very lost.
We pointed them in the direction they should go to get out of the protest.
Then another guy came around – this time to talk about why he also doesn’t like AMLO.
“AMLO fucked up the COVID response.”
Which, to be fair, you can argue that.
And I asked what AMLO should have done and he responded “more testing, close all flights to Mexico, have a forced curfew for everyone, etc.”
Then he pulls out his phone and pulls up a website showing the amount of COVID cases per country.
In particular, he wanted to show me how Africa is doing better than Mexico by clicking on random African countries and showing the amount of COVID cases they have.
In hindsight, I’m not sure that is necessarily the best comparison but I let it slide.
For one, some of the countries he brought up like Libya…
Well, as you can read here, Libya is currently in a civil war.
How many tourist visitors are they getting that spread COVID compared to Mexico?
“Welcome tourists to Libya! Where ISIS can pretend to cut your head off or blow you up with a fake bomb in a photo that you can post to Instagram for the likez, brooooos!”
Second, a country with a civil war probably isn’t doing as much testing and you could argue many of the African countries he compared Mexico to might not necessarily be doing lots of testing either.
So the amount of COVID cases over there are likely to be underrepresented.
Either way, the COVID guy had to run off to do something…
And as I got back into conversation with the older gentleman with the sign….
A woman from Monterrey came by to update him about something happening nearby.
And then asks if he has been in contact with some guy named Jessy.
Well, the older gentleman pulls out his phone to look at his messages on Whatsapp.
And I couldn’t help myself, I was looking at his messages while he was looking for something.
Where I saw some text message he got that said “the deposit has been sent.”
Now, whatever that means, who knows..
But it was with some conversation with some guy part of their movement I would assume since she was asking about someone.
But what was the deposit for? Was it for the movement? Who knows…
That is simply up to speculation – I can’t confirm or deny that.
Obviously, it would be weird for me to say to him “huh, deposit, huh?!? For WHAT?!?”
But, like the other protesters, I didn’t need to bring up the topic of being funded by others.
He brought it up himself to emphasize to me that they are not funded by anyone else!
Though, in this case, I had to ask – how did the protesters get the funding to come here, skip work and also buy all the things for the protest like the tents?
Either way, the guy repeats the line that they are all self-funded.
Which, given I don’t have any direct proof otherwise, we will leave it at that.
Anyway, the guy tells me that they will be bringing in new protesters the following morning as they are all coming in from bus.
Finally, the conversation with this older gentleman ends soon…
He talked states that AMLO was given money to release the son of EL Chapo.
And one particular issue about his beliefs…
Was that, he wants AMLO to better address the security situation on the cartels.
But also didn’t like AMLO arresting the son of EL Chapo because he believed it sparked more violence than necessary.
To me, I struggle to see how you can put those two views together.
It is true – if you go after the son of El Chapo, then more violence will happen.
But if you want to be tougher on crime and the cartels, shouldn’t you then be targeting them more?
I asked him about that but it seemed the response was not very clear.
Like others, you know, it’s sometimes hard to get real policy ideas from average folks who might not think about this every day and don’t always have non-contradictory opinions.
Like we all do at times to be fair.
Anyway, one last question I had for the guy…
Due to my experience with previous social movements, this one idea came to mind…
“Are you worried there might be informants for the government or the police in your social movement?”
Because that does happen!
He said that yeah it does but they have ways to identify them…
He goes “oh, they ask too many questions, questions to identify us, etc…”
“Are you worried I am an informant?” I felt like asking that since it would be ironic given I am also asking all of these questions to him but I didn’t ask that.
“What about police taking pictures of everyone here? Worried about that?”
Because that can happen also where the Mexican government tried to spy on activists..
As you can read about here..
“Well, yea, that happens and probably does here…”
I nodded and asked one more question…
“How do you guys organize all of this? Do you have specific leaders or those in organizational roles to handle all of it?”
I assumed they did obviously because how else would they get everyone here in one place and also they seemed a little bit organized using Whatsapp for communication.
Well, like he was anyway as I said before.
Anyway, he said yes and that they have people for specific roles in organizing things like where to go to the bathroom, how to set things up, the needs of others, etc.
I nodded and didn’t ask anything more.
I wished him the best of luck and carried on.
Walking Towards the Revolution Monument
Out of curiosity, I wanted to see how far the line of tents go.
In the moment, I was surprised by how far I was going – I thought it would end after passing by 5 other streets or so but it kept on going until the Revolution Monument.
Here’s some photos anyway of some of the stuff the protest people had that I saw while walking towards the Revolution Monument.
Anyway, I get to the other end near the Revolution Monument.
And see some guy singing something but didn’t get it on video unfortunately.
But he was yelling stuff into something and there was another guy who walked up some steps to yell “FUERA AMLO!!!”
I felt like asking them some questions but they seemed more busy than the other folks I was talking with.
And I see the police next to me who seemed pretty chill just standing there.
After a bit of watching this, I felt like I should walk back to where I was and maybe go home.
Here’s a photo anyway near the Revolution Monument area of the protest.
Walking Back to Bellas Artes
If I had to guess, the walk from Bellas Artes to the other end of the protest is maybe 10 minutes more or less but I walk fast.
As I was walking, I saw this interesting sign that I felt was funny.
As you can see here of the sign as a whole. PHOTO
And here’s photos of most of it up close.
So first, I found it funny they included Obama in it. Just being an American, I guess it was funny to see an ex-president included in our protest.
And also how they included AMLO and Obama in with Hitler – I mean, regardless of your politics, I don’t think either of them are Hitler.
If you think so, please include why below – a guy who kills millions of people to the other two.
But it is funny either way that they included Hitler – such a stereotypical thing to do in the US when people don’t like each other’s politics – “you are Hitler!!!”
Though, in my experience, it is usually people on the left who throw that accusation around more often, so I suppose it is funny to see a group of people more to the right to use that as well.
In Mexico nonetheless!
I guess the “you are hitler!” took no mañana time to get down here.
Next, you will tell me we have described “femininazis” here..
Next, I found it interesting that they seem to be suggesting that AMLO is a free mason or whatever by this part of the sign here.
I was actually trying to learn more about this movement after I visited it and read this article here about them.
Which, to be fair, the article has a clear bias against FRENA, so if you read it, just keep that in mind.
But it does reference the belief that AMLO is associated with the masons and such…
But it also seems to be a theory promoted by other people on the internet like this popular Youtube video about it here.
As well, it mentions other beliefs that people with FRENA have that I often saw repeatedly here – that he will make Mexico another Venezuela and so on…
Third, I found it funny they quoted Einstein and Jefferson.
Both of whom are not Latino or Mexican.
I did see one quote of Emiliano Zapata in this protest – which is also funny because the people who follow Zapata and his legacy like the Zapatistas are very much to the left.
And probably wouldn’t agree with all of the beliefs of the FRENA folks.
But also it is interesting to me how they didn’t cite too many Latino or Mexican leaders or influencers in history.
Over some time here, you do see that foreigner influence play its role – minor and big – in social movements and politics down here.
In this case, it is small obviously but still.
Either way, this sign obviously caught my attention and was worth mentioning, I think.
And so as I finished looking at it..
I kept on walking towards where Bellas Artes is..
And one thought I had was “where is everyone?!?”
Because while it was night time…
Other protesters estimated that maybe there were 2000 to 3000 people here…
The older gentleman told me maybe 10,000 but I think that was a bit of a stretch..
But even though it is later at night…
I didn’t see too many folks outside and saw different tents to be empty.
So I wondered if the amount of tents put up were just put up to make the impression that they had a lot more people than they were claiming…
But I read in the comment section of this video here about the same protest that some of these folks are probably sleeping in hotels..
Of course, those are just random Youtube comments so take it very lightly.
It could be possible for sure that some of them went to hotels – I have no idea.
It just seemed to me that the protest felt a little bit light by this hour in terms of the lack of people I was seeing in and outside the rents relative to the amount of tents they had there.
A Final Conversation
As I am walking now by Bellas Artes…
I see a gentleman sitting on a bench by himself wearing a FRENA hat and covered in a Mexican flag.
About as FRENA supporter looking as you could get, I suppose.
I thought about asking him some questions but I was getting tired and wanted to relax at home with my beer and vodka…
But I felt I could get one more conversation in and I’m glad I did.
In hindsight, the guy was probably the smartest protester I met – was at least able to back up his opinions as we had a little bit of a discussion.
So I walk up to him anyway and say “buenas noches.”
And similar to the other protesters, he was pretty kind and open.
Welcomed me to sit down and we got chatting.
So we started with the typical question – “why are you here? What do you not like about AMLO?”
Before he got into that, he wanted to say that he is part of FRENA and that FRENA is not associated with any political party. It is not anti-party but it is not tied with any party.
And he started with 3 main reasons why he doesn’t like AMLO.
- Economic reasons.
- Reasons surrounding COVID.
- Insecurity reasons.
So let’s break it down one by one….
On the economic reasoning – he promised greater economic growth but AMLO wasn’t able to keep that promise and economic growth has gotten worse, he says.
On the COVID situation – he says AMLO hasn’t done enough.
“Well, what should he do?” I asked.
“He should do more testing, have a curfew, everyone should wear a mask by law!”
Which, was funny to me, because he had a mask on but it was only covering his chin.
As I was fairly close to him and we are talking.
And he coughed…
No, in all seriousness, he did – with the mask off!
“So AMLO needs to have everyone wear a mask but not when I feel like coughing in front of you…”
To be fair, he did put the mask on right around as he started talking about what AMLO needs to do – but then he took it off like 5 minutes later and kept it off.
Not making an opinion on mask use but it does seem strange to me that he wants AMLO to enforce mask use but doesn’t do it himself.
Either way, how does he know I have COVID…
Hopefully I don’t but still…
Then on the insecurity reason – crime is up in Mexico, AMLO has not taken control of it properly.
Which is a fair point from what I understand.
But then there is a fourth point that this guy has about AMLO..
One you have heard before…
That AMLO is an aspiring dictator who is aligned with leftist dictators.
Like Castro, Maduro, etc..
And he argues there was a forum in Brazil called the São Paulo Forum.
Which you can read about here – it does exist.
And so the guy’s theory is that AMLO is learning from other leftist leaders on how to be a dictator in Mexico.
And is basically playing the same game as them to turn Mexico into another Venezuela.
He talks about AMLO’s relationship with those other leaders…
Such as using Cuban doctors in Mexico as you can read about here…
Or Mexico having a relationship with other socialist countries in his opinion as you can read about here…
To AMLO letting Evo Morales of Bolivia live here in Mexico as you can read about here…
As well, he goes on about how AMLO is buying votes with social programs to militarizing Mexico as you can read about here to…
So, upon doing research, he does mention things that are happening – to be fair.
Then he says something I find to be a little bit funny to be sure…
“I Agree with Trump”
In the US, I have had family and friends ask me if Mexicans hate trump or if I find people who are rude to me for being an American due to Trump…
My experience is most Mexicans are not dumb enough to be complain about Trump to random foreigners in the street.
And most of the folks I know down here are pretty chill – they never really bring it up.
Though there was this one Mexican woman on a date I met who said she loves Trump – but you can read about that here.
Either way, this guy and also two other folks I met during these protests told me they like Trump.
This one woman anyway beforehand told me that she loves Trump even!
She used the a word – amor.
In her case, it was because she agreed that the US and Mexico need to take the drug cartels more seriously.
Also, there was another guy who had an agreement with Trump on illegal immigrants coming to the US from Central America.
If I remember right, it was either the guy with the sign or the one who was talking about COVID that said that those immigrants need to be sent back to Central America.
Which is a sentiment you find among some Mexicans – especially in those near Tijuana as you can read about here.
And in the case of this older gentleman, he doesn’t love Trump but he agrees with him on certain issues.
Like about abortion, Trump’s policies on Israel and the US embassy, etc…
This mixed with other experiences with this protest gave me the impression that this protest leans more to the right politically speaking.
Even though several folks have told me that their protest is not political.
So to give credit, this guy gave a little more analysis on what the plan is long term.
Most of the folks I talked with just want to get rid of AMLO but don’t seem to know what to say for after you get rid of AMLO…
If that were to even happen…
So what’s the game plan?
According to this guy, the first step is to apply enough pressure on AMLO to resign obviously with this protest.
And that their protest is influenced by a man named Gene Sharp who you can check out here..
When I was reading about FRENA after I visited them, I actually did read that they are influenced by this guy named Gene Sharp here in this biased article against them.
Who, from what I understand, is basically this guy who worked for the US Defense Intelligence Agency and wrote a Manuel on how to use peaceful protests against a government.
And has been credited for influence in the protets in “Serbia, Ukraine, Iran and Egypt.”
Then once AMLO resigns…
He claims that there is some procedure or law in Mexico that requires new elections.
So once the new election starts, they can put up one of their guys who is “of the people.”
Of course, I asked him how does he know one of his guys will win – who is to say his movement does not get controlled or co-opted by powerful wealthy elites who may or may not necessarily care about them and only the interests of their wealthy friends…
Not implying anything with that obviously…
So the guy recognizes my concern – that wealthy individuals with political connections can buy their campaigns to get ahead and maybe take over their party or beat their party in the next election.
Similar to what our boy Mike Bloomberg tried to do in the US in 2016 (in my opinion)…
Though, to be fair, you could argue that since Bloomberg failed, that is proof the elites don’t always win…
Despite, in my opinion, Joe Biden representing the corporate elites of his party and also how some argue Hillary Clinton cheated in 2016 here…
But those are just opinions!
Either way, who is to say that doesn’t happen in Mexico with the new elections he wants?
“Well, our guy will be the guy of the people and money can’t override everything!”
To be fair, in theory, that is true but money does have a lot of influence.
Which is why, despite your opinion of Biden, Clinton or Bloomberg, they were able to use their political and financial connections to get ahead.
Which probably had a hand in the relative success each one had.
And would likely play out in Mexico as well under these theoretical new elections.
Either way, assuming their new guy wins…
And I asked who would be the new guy – any particular people he wants to run for office?
He didn’t name any from what I remember but once the new guy is in..
The man of the people – right?
This new president would then have to undue everything AMLO did – starting off by fixing the institutions that he claims AMLO has damaged.
Such as the electoral institution..
Or the Seguro Popular that AMLO replaced…
And so on…
That this new guy would not only fix the previous institutions but also get rid of corruption that he claims AMLO brought in.
And that he would bring Mexico together – where he claims that in contrast to the US…
He believes Mexico is divided by class while the US is divided by race and he would put Mexico together under unity.
Though, this is where I insert my own opinion again…
While I agree the US is more divided by race and Mexico by class…
I’d say Mexico is, to a degree, divided by race as well similar to how the US is also divided by class.
The two often, but not always, go together in my opinion and you can see racial and class divisions in both countries.
Here's an interesting video anyway, if you speak Spanish, that goes into some personal accounts of racism in Mexico.
Speaking of racism in Mexico, here's an interesting video that came out recently some few weeks ago that got blown up on social media of an Argentine women saying "india" to a Mexican chick.
Plus, you have how indigenous folks are treated in general in Mexico.
Like, for example, the violence that exists against indigenous communities in Chiapas or Oaxcaca.
To, on the other side, some argue that there is a general distaste that some Mexicans have for white Mexicans – for whatever reason but I would say a part of it is a racial bias or resentment.
From some white Mexicans that I know personally, I would agree that there are folks like that for sure but it tends to stop at resentment normally.
You can see the same in the US – we tend to be more focused on race but class has its place in our political discussions as well.
Need any proof of that? Just look at how popular Bernie was in the 2020 Democratic elections or how the Democratic Party is moving more to the left on economic issues.
And just in general the overall discussion we have on class.
So I felt his statement with that one had a hint of truth to it but not necessarily painting the picture for how it is.
Anyway, near the end of our conversation, I offer him some cherry flavored candy I had in my pocket that I bought at Oxxo when I got my beer.
Some older lady walks up to us and asks us to inform anyone that needs it that they have bathrooms set up over in some area for women.
In the end, the guy thanks me for taking interest and looking to write about this as he is a little bit concerned the police might attack their group.
Which was a concern I asked to other protesters but they said it wouldn’t happen.
And according to this article here, apparently AMLO will let the protest continue.
But we will see.
The guy gave me his card here anyway for FRENA and I wished him good luck with what he wants to achieve.
Most of my thoughts from this are included above.
First, I feel they definitely have a reason to be angry about AMLO – it is true he has fucked some things up like the attempt to take the son of El Chapo.
There’s no question about it – I don’t particularly have a favorable opinion about the guy either and find him to be a more ineffective president for the most part.
Though I do hold the view he isn’t responsible for all the issues in Mexican society and obviously can’t fix everything over night.
Second, like I said before, everyone in the protest was very nice and cordial with me.
Despite any differences in opinion, everyone was peaceful and not aggressive either.
Though I did try to hold back my opinions in most of the questions I had since I more interested in hearing what people had to say than argue anything.
Third, when it comes to if this protest was funded or paid for by others…
I did ask the guy with the sign how much it would cost to buy someone to protest for you.
And he said around 300 pesos or so per person – not sure if he was talking from experience or not but who knows.
And on that note, I don’t know for sure if they were paid or not.
But based on my limited experiences there, I would feel maybe 55% confident they are and 45% that they are not.
Based on a few things…
The text message I saw.
How much everyone emphasized to me that they are not paid for despite me never bringing it up myself.
To how did everyone afford these supplies and the trip and also taking time from work despite none of them looking particularly rich.
To the fact that they have very wealthy Mexican individuals like Gilberto Lozano and apparently others supporting them.
On another note, if it only costs 300 pesos (or 15 bucks) to hire a protester…
I did wonder to myself if I could do the same – just hire maybe 100 people at 15 bucks a person or 1,500 bucks to spend a day blocking an important road and yelling in bullhorns….
“MATT IS AWESOME! FUCK YEAH, MATT IS AMAZING!”
That would have been a nice experience for my birthday – but that’s already over.
I can save it up for my next birthday, I suppose.
If the cost is only 1,500 bucks, seems reasonable.
Maybe another 100 for supplies – a bullhorn, some picket signs, etc.
But either way, that’s a more sarcastic point…
I ended my night walking back to my apartment..
Grabbed some of my beer and my vodka bottle.
And enjoyed watching the movie Wallstreet as you can see here.
And was a good end to my night – I got back to my place at around 11:30 PM or so.
Finally, I may or may not look more into this movement if they happen to still be around my area.
They probably will be as long as AMLO is still in office, I imagine.
So if any of you enjoyed this article and want more on the grounds content about them, let me know below in the comment section.
I plan on doing more on the grounds content anyway about life in Mexico soon on other topics but can cover this again if anyone found it interesting.
I did anyway – I used to look into social movements all the time and find this stuff interesting to learn about.
Or if you have any questions or comments in general, drop them below.
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