Mexico Is Becoming Less Free And More Socialist
Lopez Obrador’s constitutional amendments expose the interventionist tendencies of the Mexican president.
The recent events in Mexico foreshadow a despicable future. Lopez Obrador’s government is acting as other leftist governments did in the past; like Sisyphus, who carries the same rock, again and again, hoping that something will change despite its already immutable destiny. In the end, however, the massive rock always tumbles down the hill. Socialism and all its variants invariably end in the same way.
Despite what Lopez Obrador and his followers will have you believe, Mexico is not a neoliberal country. It is a socialist country —a hardline one—. Mexicans do not recognize our current situation due to sheer hypocrisy. The Fraser Institute’s latest Economic Freedom Index ranks Mexico 82nd. Countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic rank higher than Mexico, not to mention countries like Chile, Spain, or Costa Rica that are in the top section of the index.
Mexico is simply a country plagued with state interventions, redistributive policies, arbitrary taxes, all-powerful bureaucrats. Those who produce require the permission of those who produce nothing (Ayn Rand Dixit). It is simple: when the citizens and consumers are not sovereign in decisions regarding the allocation of resources, the bureaucrats and politicians preside, as is the case in Mexico.
The situation threatens to get worse under Lopez Obrador’s administration. A few months ago, he amended the constitution to expand the scope of the ‘Extincion de Dominio.’ Earlier, the Magna Carta was limited to issues related to drug trafficking. Now, it involves organized crime, intentional homicide, rape, kidnapping, human trafficking, violent crimes committed with weapons, and the use of social programs for electoral purposes, illicit wealth acquisition, abusive exercise of functions, extortion, hydrocarbon crimes, sexual abuse and violence against minors, femicide, burglary, cargo transport robbery, forced disappearance including those committed by private individuals and offenses against the Firearms Act, among others.
A few days ago, the issue returned to the forefront after all parties (including the opposition) approved the law regulating this figure of extinction of dominion. It is defined as the “loss of rights that a person has concerning the property referred to in this law declared by sentence of judicial authority, without compensation, or compensation for its owner.” It is essentially a loss of property rights for a person if the said property has allegedly been used in the commission of a wrongful act. The state can forfeit this property without any consequence.
The matter is grave because the government can dictate the extinction of the dominion before the judicial authorities pronounce their decision. It can secure property following a mere suspicion or unfounded complaint. The forfeiture will apply even when the accused has died, thus targeting heirs and successors. The loss can be retroactive, on past crimes, inflicting our legal order. Further, the person has to prove their legal ownership of the property rather than the state proving the supposed illegality.
It is the “Exprópiese law” referring to the scenes when late Hugo Chavez ordered expropriation of various properties. Those who called it so weren’t mistaken. It is an instrument that the state can use to abuse power, persecute the opposition, and endanger the legal system. In short, the new law gives arbitrary capabilities to the state. It is a legal aberration which should remind us that future politicians and bureaucrats against you will eventually use any power you give to politicians and bureaucrats to use against others. Mexico is going further down the socialist road of underdevelopment.
From Mexico, we can see the torment that the Cubans, Venezuelans, and Nicaraguans suffer today. They are the real face of socialism right in front of us. In them, we don’t see paradise on earth but as if the countries have been transported to hell. And if we don’t see it, our hypocrisy and laziness are paramount.
For example, since Maduro came to power in 2013, the Venezuelan economy has contracted by around 50% and this year it will fall by another 35%, according to official estimates. The country suffered inflation of 1 370 000 % last year alone. Also, it owes an insufferable external debt of 160 billion dollars, along with a 60% drop in its exports and 39% in its imports. Further, 4 million Venezuelans have left the country in recent years as they experience shortages of essential services leading to a humanitarian crisis.
No country has seen a situation like this since the depression of 1929 or the civil war in Syria. Thus, Venezuela regressed decades in a few years, thanks to socialism. According to the World Bank, Venezuela’s crisis is the worst in the history of Latin America. And Mexico could be heading there if it doesn’t watch out.
In comparison, Lopez Obrador reduced the Mexican economy to its minimum in his first half-year in office. The pulse is barely felt, with official growth of less than 0.1%.
In Mexico, if things continue as they are with Lopez Obrador, with policies as ill-advised as the new law of Extinction of Dominion, deterring investments and destroying the business environment, the country will witness a similar fate as Venezuela.