Vanessa recently pointed me to David Rieff’s interesting article in Sunday’s NYT magazine, The Populist at the Border. While well-written and intriguing, the article’s historical thesis, and interpretations of Obrador, seems to me to rest on a series of assertions that are, at least, at best, imprecise.

Among them:

López Obrador is… arguably the most significant of all the new Latin American populists. If he succeeds… his victory would cap one of the most important global developments of the past five years: the… ascension to power of the left in Latin America. Already it is clear that a serious challenge has arisen to the norms of the modern globalized economy [emphasis mine]… [W]hether Mexican voters realize it or not, their decision on July 2 will serve as a… referendum on how far this revolt is going to go. Will it turn out, in retrospect, to have been just a few rogue Latin American countries challenging the global system? Or is this a rebellion that will stretch all the way to the Rio Grande?

[Obrador’s] economic team is led by Rogelio Ramírez de la O, a Cambridge-educated economist who is well respected in international business circles… Carlos Slim… who is Mexico’s richest man … has let it be known… that he finds nothing alarming about [Obrador’s] candidacy.

if López Obrador really [is] someone who can change Mexico through a combination of his own force of will and the support of the masses, technocrats like Ramírez de la O will be unable to rein him in if he is elected.

The first quotation is from the second page; the second from the fifth; the third from the sixth and final page.

I have been trying to find a way to tell a complex version of the story here; let me try the opposite, to tell a simple version, and ignore that my errors in doing so will be greater than Rieff’s.

I would switch the order of narrative.

In 1977, British economist Redvers Opie, one of the convenors of the Bretton Woods conference, founded eCanal S.A. in Mexico. eCanal is currently led by Rogelio Ramirez de la O, Redvers’ student, and the first Mexican to attend Cambridge.

I take extreme exception to the description of Rogelio as a “technocrat,” which is as tired a stock metaphor as “the masses” and the threat of “leftist revolution” it implies. (Given the reference to Castaneda here, Castaneda’s recent opinion piece in the NYT, and Vincinte Fox’s recent visit to the US– rather obviously an attempt to influence not only US policy but the course of the Mexican election– I might aslo question whether the NYT is under inappropriate foreign influence. And if anything, Obrador’s “right wing” opponents are the heirs of the corruption of the Soviet Union, and their recent forays into the US, the legacy of the ComIntern).

Stated in brief, eCanal’s Mission has been to guide Mexico into the economic hegemony developed at Bretton Woods, and the rational and open allocation of resources, and the significance of the Obrador campaign should be judged from the perspective of the Bretton Woods.

I hope I will not breach confidence to claim that the Obrador campaign is not a result of the spectre of leftism spreading over Latin America, but of the dreams of integrating Mexico with the economic hegemony created at Bretton Woods, and that de la O’s role in Obrador’s candicacy has been much more central than suggested above, or by Reiff’s (otherwise often insightful) political history of Obrador.

(When David opined some time ago that there was no economic alternative to the American hegemony, and to NAFTA, I could barely hold my tongue, as I still have to do. For those of you who “oppose” NAFTA, Obrador’s election would result in a substantive challenge to its terms, as Rieff imagines, but not along the “leftist” path he claims– instead in a manner that is entirely in the interest of the United States and Mexico.)

Which is to say will return to Bretton Woods– that we must return to Bretton Woods– with a much expanded community of nations at the table. And that we must seek to expand that community and the number of nations which participate actively and fully in the hegemony.

Reiff’s article also refers to the (false) spectre of “globalization,” and to the the Obrador campaign, and the spread of “leftism” in the Latin America, as a counter-movement. Quite the contrary. Rogelio’s plan to integrate Mexico into the economic world of Bretton Woods, and into the global economy, would be a step forward in the processes of global integration.

To assert otherwise is as dangerous and foolhardy as it is ill-informed. Obrador’s campaign represents a very specific intent to breach the “Washington consensus”– but far from Leftish in nature, that intent is to return to the path of Bretton Woods, and allow Mexico and its people to join the world.

A project that must be repeated for every nation, and to which every other candidate that Reiff mentions is opposed. (Vincente Fox and his friends stand to loose half a billion if Obrador is elected, and pursues them for fraud, a fact passed over by Rieff as he relates much smaller allegations).

In echo of Rieff’s evidently derogatory claim of Obrador’s “Messianic” delusions, and his insults to the understanding of the Mexican people, I will claim that when we vote on July 2nd, we still be standing in the Woods of Bretton.

And in echo of Time’s recent assertion that the coming election in Mexico is as important to the United States as it is to Mexico, I baldly assert that the election of July 2nd is crucial to our national security.

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