After his landslide victory last year, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico promised a staggering transformation of his country — on par with independence from Spain and the Mexican Revolution.That last one is something I know quite a bit about; the government employees I work with prefer no-bid contracts because bidding out every job takes a ton of work, and because the winner might be someone you despise or think is shady. Of course there are opportunities for corruption, but it's false to pretend that there are no costs to a fully transparent, give every project to the lowest qualified bidder system. And even if you decided to switch to such a system it would take six months at minimum to work out the rules, get the advertisements out, and so on.
But five months into his term, the new Mexico he says he is building looks an awful lot like the old one he swore to leave behind.
Corruption was a hallmark issue for Mr. López Obrador during the campaign, a national scourge he vowed to end. Yet his government has announced no major prosecutions of public officials or other prominent figures on corruption charges since he took office.
Beyond that, in his first three months, his government awarded more than 70 percent of its contracts directly, without competitive bids, according to Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity, an anticorruption group — a sharp reversal from Mr. López Obrador’s promise to break with that tradition.
And on immigration, which López Obrador talked about a lot during his campaign, using Trump as a foil:
On migration, Mr. López Obrador began his tenure by opening his arms to migrants heading north, criticizing the enforcement approach of the previous government. But more recently, his administration has taken a harder line as well, increasing the detention and deportation of Central Americans and others entering Mexico.And so on. Not that López Obrador has done nothing; his government has enacted anti-poverty programs and begun building a huge oil refinery so the country will no longer have to import gasoline from the US, and probably lots of other things I don't know about. But I would bet my house that in six years most Mexicans will not feel that they have experienced a Revolution.
Far from countering the stiff measures taken by President Trump along the border, Mr. López Obrador has often gone along with them, wary of a dust-up with his most important trading partner.