NGOs in Latin America

Under attack in Mexico

Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) a veteran politician of the Mexican left, took office on 1 December 2018, at the start of a six-year term. With his background as a long-standing critic of previous centrist and right-wing governments, as a supporter of human and migrant workers’ rights, and as a critic of heavy-handed militarised policing, there were reasons to believe his presidency might open up new opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration between the government and civil society. As a presidential candidate AMLO had promised to expand social programmes to help the vulnerable. Yet for a variety of reasons the relationship between government and civil society worsened dramatically after he took office. In part this may have been due to what could be called the president’s pre-existing support for an authoritarian, populist, illiberal form of democracy. In part also, AMLO changed his own positions after coming to power – for example he moved to support the kind of militarised public security interventions that he had previously criticised. Policy failings by Mexico’s NGOs and quangos may have also had some degree of responsibility for the rapid cooling of the relationship.

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