“The devil’s finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist.” ― Charles Baudelaire in “The Generous Gambler”
- The Eighth Passenger Nowhere, or everywhere. A drowsy train drifts off to its own purr. It isn’t coming from or going to anywhere in particular. Or at least not anywhere that matters. A dismal population whose haggard lives seem to hang by a thread nod off on board. In the last car, seven bored, grubbily dressed and solitary passengers, their lives as wretched as their clothes, shift irritably in their seats and lament their situation.
“I’d do anything to turn my luck around,” one says. They were speaking a universal language and the other six passengers nod in silence. Just then the long and battered train enters a tunnel, intensifying the shadows and hiding the passengers’ faces. The door opens and an eighth passenger walks in. The passenger’s clothes practically scream, “I’m not from around here,” but they sit down without a word. The tunnel stretches out the darkness.
A thunderous crack interrupts the silence, like a dry branch breaking but without a storm to blame. A pair of blazing eyes appears in the darkness: “I don’t think I need to introduce myself,” the fiery gaze hisses, “You have all conjured me in one way or another and I’m responding to your call. Make a wish: you pay with your soul. Name your price.”
The first passenger chooses health, to never get sick again. “Done,” Satan responds, picking up the healthy soul and throwing it in his bag.
Another passenger chooses wisdom, to know everything. “Done,” the devil murmurs, picking up the wise person’s soul and tossing it in his bag.
The third passenger opts for beauty, to be admired. “Done,” says the king of hell, tossing the beautiful one’s soul in his bag.
The fourth asks for Power, to rule and be obeyed. “Done,” Lucifer says under his breath, the soul of the new ruler added to his bag.
The fifth wants “pleasure,” to awaken passion at will. “Done,” the demon replies with a contented smile. The hedonist’s soul disappears into the devil’s bag.
The sixth passenger sits up straight and pronounces the desire for fame, to be widely recognized and praised. “Done,” Satan declares without a pause, and the famous soul takes its place among the other prisoners.
The seventh passenger practically sings the request for “love.” “Dooooooone,” the evil one replies with a guffaw, and the lover’s soul goes into the depths of the bag.
The fallen angel looks impatiently at the eighth passenger who hasn’t said anything and is merely scribbling in a notebook.
Lucifer addresses the passenger, asking sweetly, “And what is your wish, traveler? You can have anything you want. All I ask in exchange is your transient soul.”
The eighth passenger stands up and whispers, “I am Money. I’ll buy all seven souls of those wretches who believed in you and I’ll buy you, too, to have you at my service and under my orders.”
And “the great dragon, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world” (Revelation 12:9) smiled cunningly and, before getting into the bag of sold-out souls himself, condemned the passenger, “Let it be so, Master Money, but in your very essence lies your own destruction and your fortune today will be your fall from grace tomorrow.” Money took the bag and exited the last car of the train as the train pulled out of the tunnel.
Behind them darkness stretched ahead until it reached daylight…
- On Crisis and Responsibilities
“When there is a crisis, buy low and wait for the crisis to pass in order to sell high. If there is no crisis, provoke one via war. To get out of a crisis, provoke another war. War, as Clausewitz did not say, is the way to get in and out of crisis by other means (nuclear wars included). Don Durito de La Lacandona. Beetle and Ph.D. in Jungle Economy
If the devil’s finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist, then one of the foundations of the capitalist system is to convince you that money can solve anything. Money is the lord and master of governments and the basis for their respective projects to go down in history as great Transformers. But…
Well, here I was going to try to explain that a global economic crisis is coming, but I don’t really know much about political economy and besides, reality is explaining that point with better arguments and in a more pedagogical format than I could have. Even so, we have to take into account what else is coming.
We should point out that what is coming is not the current administration’s fault, nor that of past administrations. What is commonly known as the “government of Mexico” has only one responsibility: to believe and make the rest of us believe that they have some way to ease the pain of what’s coming—note that they don’t even pretend anymore to be able to stop it. The “bad decisions” that one sector of the unenlightened right attributes to the government of the 4T[i] (the most commonly cited is the cancellation of the plan to build a new airport in Texcoco) have nothing to do with what is coming. The underlying message of this particular fragment of the actually existing right, which feels deceived and resentful, is “We’d be better off without López Obrador,” a motto that is neither original nor true.
Any other candidate who landed in the presidential office (Meade, Anaya, el Bronco, or Ms. Xerox[ii]) would have faced the same “adverse global environment” (that’s what big capital’s think tanks call it) and come out defeated and looking for someone to blame. Any of them would have done exactly what the current government is doing: lie and cook the books. I am of course speaking from and for the perspective of the original peoples, but I’m sure other sectors could give their own grim accounts of whether or not they have benefitted from the political economy of the supreme leader, not to mention his social policies and egregious failure in fighting crime.
In any case, the displeasure shown by this particular sector of the right is amply compensated for by the total satisfaction from the rest (and the majority) of the right, not to mention big capital’s absolute delight with the administration’s policies that lay the groundwork for the explosion and escalation of the crisis that is coming.
The truth is (and I imagine this claim will bother them even more than if we had just said they’re all the same) that the current situation would be exactly the same under the administration of any of those presidential hopefuls. Any one of them would have begun with a celebration of him or herself, solemnly declaring a new cycle of hope, jobs, and prosperity for the entire territory south of the Río Bravo [Rio Grande] and to the west of Guatemala and Belize. Any one of them would have distributed the same handouts, although under different names and slogans. Any one of them would have reneged on more than a few campaign promises and chalked up any criticisms to bitterness and envy. Any and all of them would have called for unity and patriotism, prostrating themselves before the plans, threats, and insults blabbered by the current overseer of that brutal and turbulent country to the north, and attributed their errors to an “adverse international environment.”
All of them, just like the current administration, would base their governing agenda on money. The only difference is that the current administration thinks its fictitious “fight against corruption” is more than enough to earn praise that actually corresponds to others [otros, otras, otroas]: “But the 4T doesn’t steal!,” they’ll say. Even in that respect one could equivocate, as all those lovers of nuance will be able to read in another text someday…well, if it is ever published. But for now I’m going to point to a few facts upon which there can be no equivocation, facts which require that one take a clear position. For this task I haven’t resorted to the social networks and their “fake news,” nor to the press columns written for or against (each more pathetic than the next), nor to the press tagged as “fifi,[iii]” (I had to stop using Proceso as a source after a burp from the supreme leader erased an entire history of investigative journalism unmatched in other press outlets).[iv] Thus I have limited myself to the facts and declarations reported by the government itself on its own webpages (including what has been said in public events and morning press conferences), and to reports by the “supportive” [uncritical] press.
This is in addition, of course, to an “in situ” investigation in our own environment: rural Chiapas. One could legitimately express doubt about what we report from that investigation—perhaps it’s all just a ploy to sabotage the supreme leader. Go right ahead, doubt us! But if you want to address those doubts you can do one of two things: investigate whether or not what we say is true, or wait and see what happens. The disadvantage of the former is that any journalist who investigates the veracity or falsity of what you’ll read below will join the ranks of the “conservatives”[v] (even if that journalist “nuances” the account by playing down the brutal reality of what is happening here). With regard to the second option—waiting to see if time proves us right or wrong—well, look, the truth is that “time” is exactly what those above don’t have. In any case, while you should feel free to doubt our version of what is happening here, doesn’t it seem suicidal to doubt the reality that you yourself see and experience?
– Take the festive tone of the supreme leader in his meetings with the representatives of economic power in Mexico and the world compared to the irritated and intolerant tone he takes upon hearing the demands or reproaches of ordinary people, especially ordinary people from the countryside. Sure, you can try to “nuance” that, but reality will correct you on a daily basis. His courtship of the representatives of money borders on the obscene, even when it doesn’t translate into the support he’s seeking. With regard to ordinary people, well, the supreme leader “doesn’t pay anybody to beat up on him.”[vi]
– Take the imposition of a tyrant’s own enmities and affinities. Sure, I get that everybody has their likes and dislikes, but nothing gives anyone the right to impose those preferences on everybody else. When the president says so-and-so is a such-and-such, that has an effect on the population, and as the murder of Samir Flores demonstrates, the desire to please the supreme leader leads to crimes and distortions. Only tyrants seek copies of themselves among the governed, with predictable consequences for that nation.
– Take the treatment of migrants. Look around and you could say to yourself, “Tragic! In what kind of country do those horrors take place?” But the truth is that they happen here in the “Republic of Mexico.” What’s more, what comes out in the “supportive” press on the subject barely offers a glimpse into the nightmare imposed on Central American migrants on the southern border. Yes, and also on Africans, on people from the Caribbean, on Asians…. and on Mexicans. Tell me, how do you distinguish between a person from Chiapas and one from Guatemala, Honduras, or El Salvador? Whether they have papers or not? Okay, go ask the INEGI [National Institute of Statistics and Geography] or the INE [National Electoral Institute] how many Mexicans in southeastern Mexico don’t have papers. Or is it whether they can sing the national anthem? The immigration agents don’t even know the national anthem, and apparently neither does the president, which is why he’s so willing to be Trump’s doormat. That other aspiring candidate for 2024, Marcelo Ebrard[vii], says that they are abiding by the law, but there is no law that says “everyone of short stature and dark skin who doesn’t speak Spanish or speaks it with an accent will be detained and required to show documents proving Mexican citizenship. These arrests may be carried out by the military, police (including traffic police), or immigration agents and do not require the presence of a translator, human rights defender, or any other potential obstacle to the ability of the president to comply with the quota of arrests dictated by his friend Donald Trump.” Fine, don’t believe this “fake news”; look in the press “supportive of the 4T.” Did you check? Okay, now try to “nuance” the nightmare.
– Take the servile, ass-kissing tone and behavior taken in front of the US government. We’ll talk more about that later but honestly, I don’t remember a Mexican government who has publicly groveled so shamelessly before a foreign government. If your argument justifying such indignities is that the supreme leader won a raised-hand referendum in a place where he had recently distributed government handouts, well good luck.
– Take the defeat of secularism. With the support of the catholic clergy, religion first waded into state affairs during the era of the “bad” Salinas, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, progressing through the administration of Zedillo who sanctioned it by playing dumb, then through Vicente Fox’s genuflections and Felipe Calderón’s prudish sanctimoniousness to arrive at the indefensible militant religiosity of the current president. What is left of the nation will pay dearly for this defeat… and not on an extended payment plan like you can get in Elektra stores.[viii]
– Take the implementation and acceleration of megaprojects and the destruction of the original people’s territories. The argument that always gets dragged out about these projects being too far along to stop construction now didn’t seem to matter in Texcoco. The supreme leader himself has justified the megaprojects, and his finger-pointing disqualification of the opposition to the Morelos thermoelectric plant cost our compañero Samir Flores Soberanes his life. In the crime section of the newspaper that’s called “setting someone up.” It doesn’t matter what is said to try to evade or justify it, the government is responsible for his death. Go ahead, “nuance” that one: the president didn’t pull the trigger. Yeah well, neither did Trump of course.
– Take this administration’s policies encouraging individualism and challenging the community. This administration has argued that distributing aid (cash) on an individual (rather than collective) level is more effective, since it will help “fight corruption.” First of all, if there is corruption within particular peasant organizations, NGOs, etc., then the government should say so: who, where, and how much. Omitting these details amounts to complicity (if you have any doubts about that, ask Robles[ix]). If this administration doesn’t have any qualms about denouncing journalists and media outlets from its pulpit—“I’m not one to keep things secret,” as the president says—then he should be able to state clearly, for example: “the CIOAC leadership—and it must be clarified which of all the CIOACs, the murderous one or one of the others—is skimming this much off the top of the cash distribution program. Enough of that, let them keep what they already swindled and let’s start this over right.” Or, “In such-and-such daycare in such-and-such place, the people in charge are eating all the cornflakes and drinking all the milk that’s supposed to be for the kids.” Or, “in this other daycare there are a bunch of children who were born out of sin and lust (wedlock), and our Lord and Savior said that one should not lie down with anyone with whom one does not have a pact of non-aggression and sensible frigidity.” (I think that’s called “marriage.”)
Now, in the case of the countryside, the problem isn’t just individualized distribution. I mean, if the cabinet members and their aids that work on these issues have no imagination and can only conceive of either distributing to organizations or to individuals, fine, I get it, they are politicians after all. But to choose a bank as the mechanism for distributing the “blessings” of the government of the “Fourth Transformation”! What this amounts to, for the rural aid program “Sembrando Vida” (“Sowing Life”)[x] for example, is that the most direct beneficiary of the program is the intermediary—the coyote or “middleman”—in this case, Banco Azteca, which belongs to the Grupo Elektra.[xi]
The supreme leader claims that the pay-out to campesinos who join the program is $5,000.00 pesos. That’s false. A campesino can get a maximum of $4,500.00 pesos (and in some cases only $4,000.00).
Supposedly the reason that you can only get $4,500.00 is because the other $500 go into a savings account, the destiny of which is unclear. Those receiving aid are told that the funds will be “for the elderly” or that they will be used in the future to bring the goods—lumber and fruit—to market. But just think: cedar and caoba trees need about 30 years to grow before they are “marketable”, that is, until it’s profitable to cut them down and sell them. But the president’s term ends in 5 years. If my math is right, that means it will take another 4 presidential terms before what is planted in the coming year (the plants are still in the greenhouse phase) will be marketable. Presumably, the beneficiaries will receive $4,500 pesos every month for the next 29 years. Therefore, the Bolsonaro-Macri-Moreno who is already waiting in the wings to relieve the current administration from the storm will either commit him or herself to maintaining this program, or the program’s real purpose is to ensure peasant support for a single political party across multiple presidential administrations.
The issue is that through this money transfer, the bank retains 500 pesos (and in some cases, one thousand pesos, with the argument that peasants ought to save) for each “sower of life”. The supreme leader’s functionary in charge of this program has said there are as many as 230,000 “beneficiaries”. That comes out to 115 million pesos per month at the disposal of that bank. You can consult your favorite economist to find out what banks do with the savings of their account holders.
Now, in some branches of that “selfless” and “philanthropic” institution which is Banco Azteca, peasants are told that they will only be given $4,000 pesos “so that they learn to save.” If all beneficiaries had this same “instinct” to save (such a valued quality in the culture of money), then the government would be withholding 230 million pesos per month, multiplied by 12 months per year for 5 years starting in October of this year. But let’s just assume that’s not the case, and that only 115 million pesos per month is set aside as “savings” (that’s 1.38 billion pesos per year, which comes out to 6.9 billion pesos in what’s left of this presidential term). Now, if at the end of this presidency and in the presidential and legislative elections in 2024, God forbid this same supreme leader or someone from the same party were not to win, the “beneficiaries” would quickly turn into the “victims”: they’ll have 2.5 useless hectares of land [the size of the plot peasants are paid to plant under the “Sembrando Vida” program] because they won’t be able to cover the cost of having lost their animals (if they planted over their pasture), or their cornfield (if they planted trees on “reclaimed” agricultural fields).[xii]
Furthermore, the supreme leader (with the blessing of his “nuanced” advisers) is carrying out a new “agrarian reform” based on the program initiated by the “bad” Salinas (Carlos Salinas de Gortari). The requirement for joining the “Sembrando Lata” [Sowing Conflict] program in ejido communities is that the “rights holders” (the ejido members who have land rights) cede two hectares of that land to “solicitors”. This means that the new agrarian reform of the 4T involves taking land from those who have the least and “redistributing” it. In addition to the fact that this has created a new form of corruption, it has also divided party-affiliated communities [who receive aid] all the way down to the family level, pitting children (“solicitors”) against parents (“rights holders”), fights that can escalate into death threats.
In the Highland region of Chiapas, where there are small population clusters and land is measured in small plots called “tareas” rather than “hectares”, the situation would be comical if it weren’t tragic. Campesinos in this context use the same piece of land (“tarea”) to plant corn, then beans, then a vegetable crop. In addition to the fact that almost no one owns 2 full hectares, if they plant what that idiot of a president wants, their little plot of land will be unusable for subsistence farming for the next 20 or 30 years. Apparently that’s irrelevant, since what matters are the monthly cash transfers that that peasant receives.
There are more stories that you won’t believe because you of course have better information and statistics. For now I’ll just say this: the equation that states that “x amount of money = y number of hectares planted” is false. The party-affiliated peasants receiving the aid often pretend to prepare the soil for planting, or “lend” each other hectares when the president’s project manager comes around, or they just cut a deal with that manager: “You just write down that I’m carrying out the greenhouse phase and that I have the two hectares required, and I’ll give you a cut of my $4,500.”
And even so, hundreds of communities have rejected the program because, as they themselves say, “We’re not going to work as peons for the government. The land belongs to us, not to that plantation owner-turned-government.” But surely the supreme leader has other statistics, and we are just in one small portion of one small state of the Republic. So let’s follow the money:
According to Grupo Elektra’s web page, every Elektra store has a Banco Azteca branch inside. That is, when a peasant goes to the bank to collect his hand-out-that’s-not-a-hand-out, the person behind the counter is wearing a shirt with the logos of the bank and the 4T. As should be expected, the person recommends both a savings account and an insurance package to the peasant: “You never know what could happen. For example, your motorcycle could get stolen…What?! You don’t have a motorcycle?! Don’t worry, today is your lucky day—I’ve always said that lucky people sometimes don’t realize what they’ve got. Look, here we have this powerful machine, 125 cubic cm engine, Italika brand (a Grupo Elektra affiliate), and you can take it home today. Yes, today! And just for being you, I’ll throw in the helmet. Are you single? You are?? I’m surprised, someone as handsome as you… But anyway, look, a passenger fits comfortably on this bike. You’ll see, all the ladies are going to want you to take them for a spin. Now it’s better to buy this as a package so you can save yourself some hassle, you know what I mean? So I recommend that you go ahead and open your account here at the bank, get the insurance with it (it’s obligatory to open the account), buy the bike on a payment plan and get insurance on it in case it gets stolen or breaks down. You can home today on your motorcycle, helmet and all.”
All this is real. A Zapatista compa accompanied his party-affiliated brother-in-law and witnessed everything I’ve described. Of course, names have been omitted to protect the impunity… oh sorry, I mean the presumed innocence of the supreme government. And, as for the motorcycle? Well, we don’t know, the compa had to take public transportation back home because his brother-in-law, after paying for the motorcycle and the insurance, spent everything he had left on cases of beer. And they didn’t both fit on the motorcycle: it was the beer or the compa. The beer won. The Zapatista compa came back angry: “He’s not even single! He’s married to my little sister and they’re going on their fourth kid. Just wait until my sister finds out—then he’s really going to need that insurance.”
The principle shareholders of Grupo Elektra are: Hugo Salinas Price, Esther Pliego de Salinas, and Ricardo B. Salinas Pliego (the first two are the parents of the third).
Mr. Hugo Salinas Price is a confessed tax evader, a confessed strikebreaker, and a confessed sponsor of far-right activities (such as MURO, the paramilitary arm of El Yunque[xiii]), all this according to his own book, My Years with Elektra (Diana Press, 2000). In it, one can read the following: “Sadly, when the conditions of life are better, the people have time and resources to think of participating in uprisings concocted by trouble-makers. When life is hard, the people are more concerned with holding on to what they have than with causing a ruckus.”
This is the Grupo Elektra that was chosen by the supreme leader to manage the cash transfer cards of the 4T’s “social policy.” More information can be found in Álvaro Delgado’s article on the subject in Proceso, edition 2208 from February 24, 2019. Oops! I said I wasn’t going to cite that heretical and demonic weekly. Ok, but you can do like I did and get a copy of the book. And, believe me, it will give you chills. Or talk to Álvaro Delgado…but don’t let the supreme leader find out.
A complex crisis is brewing, what in the bunkers of capital is known as a “perfect storm.” This vessel we call “planet Earth” has been almost entirely dismantled and is being kept afloat by the same mechanisms that are destroying it. This stupid deadly cycle of destroying in order to rebuild what’s been destroyed is hidden behind false evidence that has slipped into our common sense. The fundamental belief in the power of the individual, a belief that was born with the rewriting of human history, has created the myth that the individual is capable of anything.
The catch, hidden behind the myth of individuality, is that it absolves the system of its responsibility for its lethal consequences. Human beings, civilizations, languages, cultures, arts and sciences waste away, digested in the stomach of the machine, and the system’s responsibility is transferred to the individual. It is he or she who is the victim and the executioner. The murdered woman is responsible for the blows she receives, the rape she suffers, her disappearance and her death. She is a criminal for having been victim of a crime and she’s a criminal for having spoken out against that crime. The same is true for children, the elderly, and people of different genders, cultures, languages, colors and races.
But don’t pay any attention to us. Consult your favorite economist instead (and if they work for the government, be sure to tell them everything will be “off the record”). Perhaps they’ll tell you that political economy is a science that operates based on laws, on causes and effects, and that it doesn’t respond to will, tantrums, or fits from behind the pulpit; that political economy pays no mind to polls and it doesn’t watch the morning press conferences; that political economy says that if a given set of conditions occurs (the causes), then a given phenomenon will be produced (the effect). Once you get bored with all the numbers and formulas, ask them: are we headed for a crisis? If you see that the economist takes out an umbrella (even though you are indoors) and apologizes, saying “well, there never were any guarantees,” then you have several options. You could solemnly declare their statements to be fake news and then blather on about the mafia of power and the Illuminati, accusing the economist of being a conservative. You could ask the economist where they got their umbrella and whether they had any in lavender (to each their own). You could cling tightly to the closest religion. Or, you could ask the economist if there is a solution, a way out, a fix.
The economist will respond with a bunch of formulas and statistics. Wait patiently for them to finish, and then instead of saying that you didn’t understand any of what they said, ask them to summarize the answer. The economist might then respond, “The situation is very difficult, it would necessitate…” (a new torrent of formulas and statistics).
Or perhaps they’ll simply say: “No, not in this system.”
(To be continued…Huh? Oh, there isn’t more? But I was just getting warmed up… Definitively not? Well, fine…just a few notes from the Cat-Dog and that’ll be it, then…)
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast
Sup Galeano tacking on some words from the Cat-Dog,
Mexico, August 2019.
From the Notebook of the Cat-Dog:
– The problem with money is…you run out of it.
– When difference encounters another equally significant but distinct difference, it embraces and celebrates it. Difference doesn’t seek a mirror, but rather something much more complex, more human: respect.
– Nature is a rubber wall that accelerates the velocity of the rocks we throw at it. Death doesn’t return in the same proportion, but rather much stronger. There is a war between the system and nature, and that confrontation does not accept nuance or cowardice. Either you’re with the system or with nature. Either you’re with death or with life.
The Cat-Dog, changing tactics, casts languid eyes up at the moon, who doesn’t have a damn clue what’s going on.
[i] AMLO has deemed his own governing project the “Fourth Transformation,” supposedly on par with historic events such as Mexican Independence (1810), a period of reform in the mid-19th century, and the Mexican Revolution (1910).
[ii] Margarita Zavala, wife of ex-president Felipe Calderón, who ran as an independent candidate in 2018, was accused of illegally using hundreds of thousands of photocopied or fraudulent voter identification cards in order to accumulate the number of registered voter signatures needed to appear on the ballot as an independent candidate. Although the National Electoral Institute approved her independent candidacy, public outcry forced her to drop her run for president.
[iii] The term with which López Obrador tags any media outlet that critiques his administration. It would be something like calling them “bourgie,” but he uses the term universally for critique from any direction.
[iv] In a July 22, 2019 morning press conference, López Obrador accused Proceso magazine of being unfairly critical toward his administration and of having been complicit in the past with the PRI and PAN.
[v] López Obrador commonly tags any criticism from any source or sector as “conservative.”
[vi] Famous phrase (“no pago para que me peguen”) from Mexican President José Lopez Portillo in the 1980s in reference to the media when he cancelled government advertising contracts with publications critical of his administration, including Proceso Magazine. https://www.nytimes.com/1989/12/04/business/the-media-business-mexican-papers-want-to-keep-tie-with-state.html
[vii] Currently López Obrador’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs.
[viii] Appliance and electronics retail chain known for offering payment plans with extremely high interest rates and abusive terms, which according to Forbes Magazine targets low income customers (https://www.forbes.com/profile/ricardo-salinas-pliego/#2085d88b1346).
[ix] Rosario Robles is the highest-ranking official in former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s [2012-2018] cabinet to be accused of large-scale corruption as part of the Estafa Maestra (Master Fraud) scandal. She is being held in preventative custody pending trial.
[x] AMLO’s program for rural Mexico consists of monthly cash handouts to peasants to plant commercial (and invasive) trees across one million hectares of the country, starting in the southeast.
[xi] Grupo Elektra is the business group that owns both Banco Azteca and the Elektra stores. López Obrador’s government is running its rural aid program through cash transfer cards issued by Banco Azteca, franchises of which are located inside Elektra stores. Banco Azteca and Elektra are both owned by Salinas Pliego, a member of López Obrador’s Business Advisory Council.
[xiii] An ultra-rightwing semi-clandestine Catholic political organization in Mexico with heavy influence inside the PAN (National Action) party. https://nacla.org/article/building-city-god-mexico%27s-ultra-right-yunque