The two towers of the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral overlook the city. In front of this jewel of Baroque architecture, built in the 16th century and pointing to its cross 64 meters high, that Jean-Luc Mélenchon stands this Friday, July 15. The leader of the French was not there as a tourist. He was around to talk politics. And waiting to be received by the President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador for an official meeting in his office. Flying to the center and south of the American continent on July 12, Mélenchon hoped to return with “lessons”. “I will rehydrate myself in politics, re-immerse myself, plow my imagination in politics”he explained before he left.
After a terrible electoral cycle, in which he almost passed the second round of the presidential election and then built a historic union with the left-wing forces, the rebel leader settled in three countries emphasis “More political events” for him “political family” : Mexico, Colombia, Honduras. “The Latin American people are orchestrating new stages of citizen revolution. They have elected, one after another, the governments of a broken left.he wrote in a blog post the day he arrived in the promised land.
For fifteen days, Mélenchon met heads of state, ambassadors, ministers and even former presidents, never losing sight of the French situation. Know what is happening in Latin America “can’t export like before”he wants to believe that despite everything, “Latino communities shape ours”. The historic victory of the left-wing opponent Gustavo Petro in Colombia can be a source of inspiration. “His program has a lot to do with ours”assured Mélenchon.
“Break with neoliberalism”
Latin America has long been Mélenchon’s favorite playground. He likes to spend his summers there and goes there almost every year. As much through intellectual curiosity as ideological tropism. “What am I doing here? Why Latin America? Because this is the only place in the world where there is a stop to neoliberalism”, he said in 2019, on a trip that took him through the streets of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. The sub-continent constitutes the laboratory for those who dream of seeing the triumph of Europe in a “pink wave” similar to what happened in the early 2000s (in English, the “pink tide”) and that seems to happen again now. In its mouth, it gives: “Many countries have decided to break the chain of neoliberalism through the ballot box”.
To understand this attraction for Latin America, we must draw on the personal journey of Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Part of his family, paternal side, is from Spain. Above all, the governor who surrounds him in Tangier (Morocco), where he was born, is Spanish. So he is fluent in the language of Cervantes. The man who spent more than thirty years in the PS made his political debut in the early 1970s, during the coup against socialist president Salvador Allende in Chile. Later, his interest in the region will be revived, thanks to the coming to power of Lula (Brazil), Hugo Chávez (Venezuela) and Evo Morales (Bolivia). “What we see in Europe is now played out there.wrote Mélenchon in 2007 in his book Look to the left.
This year, the program for his trip to South America is busy. Each country has its own theme. In Mexico, he talked about water, a topic he loves and regrets not talking about enough during the presidential campaign. Usually, the rebellious leader remembers how “The question is important”. In Honduras, the organization of a Constituent Assembly is at the center of the discussions. A measure that reflects the program of President Xiomara Castro, elected in January. Finally in Colombia, ecology is put on the table. “Gustavo Petro has a centralized ecology in his program and in his political approach. He is one of the few heads of state in the new Latin left with such a clear awareness of this centrality and the urgency of dealing with climate change.wrote the former deputy.
The anti-globalization vision carried by the defender of the Sixth Republic for many months finds a particular resonance here, because Latin America arouses the greed of the North American neighbor. Other issues are addressed, such as the defense of public services and common goods.
Length and Ingredients
10,000 kilometers from Paris, Jean-Luc Mélenchon did not forget to knock Emmanuel Macron, the RN and LR he described as “worst in Europe”. While talking about the purchasing power law discussed in the Assembly as a project “worthless” and “unfair” it’s supposed to be “antisocial” and “anti-ecological”. Besides inspiring him, the Mélenchonian wanderings in the lands of South America seem to have pleased his companions. Shortly after their meeting, leftist Colombian senator Armando Benedetti presented the French leader as a “progressive” and one “defender of workers’ rights and the distribution of wealth”while greeting a “political event” without hesitating to defend “the minorities during the last French presidential election”.
Back in France on Tuesday, Jean-Luc Mélenchon gave a positive assessment of his journey, which allowed him to continue to shape his stature as a statesman, above the fight. The challenge now is to know if the good ingredients harvested there will work here.