The Mayan Train
By Homero Aridjis
July 9, 2020
This week, on his first trip abroad as Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador is meeting with Donald Trump in Washington, presumably to celebrate the new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, an updated version of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. This visit has been harshly criticized in both countries. The meeting finds both presidents on shaky ground, with considerable sectors of society questioning their unilateral decisions on crucial matters and their capacity to govern. The two presidents have more in common than it seems, and both have shown how the erosion of democracy often goes hand in hand with environmental illiteracy and a reckless assault on nature. At moments their encounter brings to mind Bruegel’s Parable of the Blind: “if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”
Mexico is battered by multiple crises. The recent assassination attempt on Mexico City’s police chief and the massacre of 27 young men at a rehab center exemplify the rise of violent drug cartel crime, gruesome murders of women and children fill the news, and coronavirus cases, now topping 268,000, increase relentlessly, with more than 32,000 deaths. And now, the president has embarked on a megaproject that threatens the entire Mayan region with untold social and environmental devastation.