A Trump-like Mexican oligarch, Gilberto Lozano, is leading a coalition of corporate leaders and far-right fanatics called FRENA to try to overthrow President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
By José Guadalupe Argüello III and Ben Norton – jUN 25, 2020
Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s victory in Mexico’s 2018 presidential election marked a historic feat, promising a respite from a roughly 40-year period of continuous neoliberal rule over the country.
López Obrador, better known as AMLO, is taking Mexico down a new route toward greater national autonomy. Under a revolutionary process that he calls the Fourth Transformation, he is fighting systemic corruption and rampant theft of public resources, while boosting social benefits for the poor.
From the beginning of AMLO’s term in December 2018, members of the parties that have dominated Mexican politics for decades, particularly the right-wing National Action Party (PAN) and neoliberal Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), have worked tirelessly to block the new administration’s reforms and abort the Fourth Transformation.
Powerful oligarchs have also leveraged their substantial economic power to try to destabilize and ultimately unseat López Obrador – and have sought foreign support to do so.
In the first part of this investigative series, The Grayzone reported on the Broad Opposition Bloc (Bloque Opositor Amplio, or BOA), a coalition of opposition parties, corporate elites, and media outlets that are seeking to remove AMLO from power, and appear to have support in Washington and on Wall Street.
But there is another opposition alliance, which is listed as a participant in the BOA but is even more extreme in its ideology and its tactics, that deserves deeper scrutiny.
The extremist National Anti-AMLO Front (FRENA) proposes a color revolution
On May 30 and throughout the weekend of June 13 and 14, traffic across Mexico was disrupted with motorcades of honking cars displaying signs of opposition to President López Obrador. In the days leading up to the event, opposition supporters in the country, and in parts of the United States, had been called to protest in vehicle caravans under the slogan “Andrés López, we don’t want you.”
The group that organized these protests calls itself the National Anti-AMLO Front (Frente Nacional Anti-AMLO in Spanish), and uses the acronym FRENAAA, typically simplified to FRENA. This far-right Mexican group modeled its demonstrations against AMLO after similar protests organized by the neo-fascist party Vox in Spain.
FRENA represents one of the most extreme – and also elite – opposition groups in Mexico. And its explicitly stated goal is to force AMLO to step down as president by November 2020, well before the next scheduled presidential elections in 2024.
The National Anti-AMLO Front comprises an alliance of some of the most fanatically right-wing forces in Mexico. FRENA characterizes the elected government as a “communist dictatorship,” and claims López Obrador, a center-left progressive nationalist, is part of a conspiracy to implement communism through gender equity, education equality, and homosexuality.
FRENA has even publicly asked for support from US President Donald Trump to stop “the agenda of AMLO, whose goal is to implement Castrismo-Chavismo in our country”.
According to the official FRENA website, the group is organized in a top-down fashion, with a governing council comprised of 67 elites – although only four of these are publicly named. This council formulates strategies to remove AMLO, which are then implemented by various so-called volunteer commissions, led by coordinators across Mexico.
Membership in FRENA, the website says, is open to all who agree that the “Bolivarian Dictator Andrés López” must resign.
A section of the FRENA’s site, the “Strategy of the National Front,” lays out three stages toward its goal of regime change. It claims that “for security purposes this is a draft of a detailed plan to save Mexico from a communist tyrant” (any emphasis with capital letters is from the website):
- To seek out AMLO’s resignation before November 30, 2020 utilizing the law and the media, but mostly SOCIAL PRESSURE.
- Upon the success of the first stage, to continue to prepare a UNIFIED candidate for the new elections, surrounded by all opposition parties as the SOLE desire OF THE MEXICAN PEOPLE.
- National Reconstruction, as a large conglomerate of organized citizens to be the supreme organ of vigilance, managing the destiny towards a new Mexico.
In the same section on the FRENA website, visitors can learn about US government-backed “color revolution” mastermind Gene Sharp and obtain a free copy of his soft-coup manual, From Dictatorship to Democracy, which is accessible as a Spanish-language PDF or audiobook.
As Dan Cohen and Max Blumenthal have previously reported at The Grayzone, Gene Sharp worked with a former analyst for the US Defense Intelligence Agency to create a “strategic blueprint that weaponized protest as a form of hybrid warfare, aiming it at states that resisted Washington’s unipolar domination”.
On its website, FRENA also promotes a documentary on Sharp, in which acolytes credit him with inspiring color revolutions in Serbia, Ukraine, Iran, and Egypt.
FRENA leader Gilberto Lozano intends to add Mexico to this list.
Gilberto Lozano: ultra-elite oligarch with extreme, fascistic views
Gilberto Lozano González has established himself as one of the most die-hard opponents of President López Obrador.
A mega-rich oligarch from the heartland of Mexico’s elite, Lozano has made himself the figurehead of his National Anti-AMLO Front, FRENA.
Lozano publishes indignant rants on YouTube, where his channel has nearly 150,000 subscribers, calling the elected president a would-be dictator and warning that “the communist agenda is advancing”.
Most of the videos are recorded in Lozano’s opulent mansion, where viewers can see his loft ceilings, fancy paintings, mountain of hats, and grand piano. And the oligarch has a penchant for dramatic flair, posing in front of a statue of an angel armed with a club, or holding up a tray with a caricature of AMLO’s face. This, coupled with Lozano’s entertaining, fury-infused fits, might partly explain the popularity that drives views of his social media videos to well over 50,000.
In these often lengthy video rants, Lozano repeats his familiar refrains, ironically accusing López Obrador of carrying out a “soft coup” while simultaneously calling for the elected leader to be removed before November 30 and replaced with an “interim president”.
The oligarch’s extreme, far-right views have led many Mexicans to compare Lozano to Donald Trump or to Brazil’s fascistic leader Jair Bolsonaro.
In fact, FRENA published an open letter to President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and US Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau this past May, seeking their support.
Available to talk with you Mr. Trump 528181497843 https://t.co/OcYKctmjM5
— Gilberto Lozano (@gilbertolozanog) May 25, 2020
In the missive, FRENA claimed AMLO is a “tyrant whose sights set on the Latin American Castro-Chavista socialism” and a “commander-in-chief whose agenda is none other than that of the Sao Paulo Forum led from Cuba and supported by Venezuela”.
Claiming to have the support of 2 million Mexicans, FRENA asked the US president “and all levels of your government to stop calling [AMLO] ‘a friend.’ He is not your friend nor your country’s.”
Lozano subsequently shared a link to the letter from his personal Twitter account, adding the note, “Available to talk with you Mr. Trump”. He even apparently included his phone number in the message.
In a follow-up tweet, Lozano added, “I am waiting for this call or audience with [Ambassador] Laundau”.
— 🆘Sociedad Civil México 🇲🇽 (@SocCivilMx) May 27, 2020
But before he became a key figure in the anti-AMLO opposition, Gilberto Lozano was known as one of Mexico’s most powerful business magnates.
Lozano previously directed corporate giant FEMSA, the largest bottler of Coca-Cola in the world, and spent 16 years at the helm of the massive, multibillion-dollar multinational conglomerate the Alfa Group.
He was also the owner of the enormous convenience store chain Oxxo, as well as a distributor of numerous corporate brands, including Heineken.
Lozano is a native of Monterrey, a city in northern Mexico infamous for being controlled by ultra-rich right-wing families with nearly unlimited economic resources – and thus significant sway over their country’s politics. These powerful oligarchs are known collectively as the Grupo Monterrey, or Monterrey Group. And in perfect symbolism of his elite status, Lozano served as president of their Monterrey Football Club.
The businessman has used his extensive connections to put a heavy footprint on Mexican politics. Lozano founded and directs the influential National Citizen Congress (Congreso Nacional Ciudadano, or CNC), a group of oligarchs who claim to be apolitical, but who aggressively lobby for right-wing neoliberal policies, as part of their plan to create a “new Mexico”.
In a lecture at Canada’s McGill University in 2015, Lozano described the strategy of his National Citizen Congress in starkly Gene Sharpian terms: using a “horizontal structure” to build “power and agency.” Combining right-wing populist flair with libertarian and anarchist rhetoric, the oligarch claimed they were ushering in a new “revolution,” weakening and dismantling the state and government institutions in order to construct a decentralized society that ensures “self-determination” and “autonomy” for individuals.
Lozano and his National Citizen Congress also have extensive economic and political connections in the United States. Lozano boasts that he has a network of CNC activists in the US.
The oligarch frequently makes trips to Texas, where he conducts interviews with right-wing US activists, ranting about how AMLO and his Morena party are purportedly destroying Mexico.
In a trip to Dallas, Texas in November 2018, Lozano discussed the anti-AMLO activities that his National Citizen Congress oversees in both the US and Mexico.
Next, Lozano livestreamed a video on Facebook, from Houston, Texas, where the Mexican oligarch spoke with a fellow CNC member at a Pemex gas station.
Lozano barked into the camera, condemning then President-elect López Obrador’s transition team for inviting representatives from Venezuela’s internationally recognized government to his forthcoming December inauguration. Although AMLO had not yet taken power, Lozano shrieked that the left-wing leader would turn Mexico into a “corrupt killer dictatorship” with no toilet paper, as he portrayed Venezuela.
In the video, Lozano claimed that pro-AMLO protesters were being paid by the government. Then, in the comments below, Lozano accused his critics of being bots and fake accounts run by López Obrador’s Morena party.
These might seem like the ravings of a madman, but Gilberto Lozano’s ravings have fallen on fertile social media soil. He is also a regular fixture on Mexico’s mainstream corporate media networks, which are owned by some of the same right-wing oligarchs who want to unseat AMLO.
In May 2019, Lozano and his National Citizen Congress brought an absurd criminal complaint before Mexico’s House of Representatives, formally accusing President López Obrador of treason.
The oligarch leveled more than 20 accusations against AMLO. Among them, local media outlets reported, was “subjugating the Mexican people’s sovereignty, independence, and integrity to foreign interests. His evidence for this incendiary claim was the supposed arrival of Central Americans, Cubans, ISIS cells, Islamists, Africans, and Mara Salvatruchas members.
In his legal complaint, Lozano claimed López Obrador’s policies will destabilize Mexico, destroy the economy, and fuel more violence, endangering women, and even unleashing illnesses and viruses, including ebola.
The influential left-wing public intellectual John Ackerman, a close ally of AMLO, dubbed Lozano “the Mexican Trump“, arguing he uses the “same racist and neofascist discourse as the President of the United States”.
However, Ackerman predicted that Lozano would not succeed as Trump has, because the “Mexican political culture is more resistant than others to fascism.” Ackerman reminded readers that a similarly extreme, Trumpian presidential candidate, Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, only received 5 percent of the vote in the 2018 election.
FRENA’s May 30 car protest and anti-AMLO governors’ support
Gilberto Lozano’s elite National Citizen Congress established the institutional framework for what later became the National Anti-AMLO Front, or FRENA. At this point, they are essentially the same organization – the official CNC Facebook page even changed its username to FRENA.
In 2019, Lozano and the National Citizen Congress helped organize anti-López Obrador demonstrations that were popularly derided at the time as “marchas fifí” – or “bougie marches”, in slang – because they were populated by wealthy upper-class Mexicans.
The FRENA marches from May 30 this year had a similar feel. An independent media outlet called México en Marcha described the caravan in Guadalajara: “this group [of protesters] is no larger than 50 people, but because they are riding in cars and because they have resources to make these signs, their presence is felt a bit more, but in reality, they do not add up to 100 people in the whole state of Jalisco”.
— Cuauhtemoc Morales (@cuauhm) May 30, 2020
FRENA also paid for professionally made banners in various states of Mexico, reading “In [this state] we don’t want you Andrés López”. Supporters posed for strategic photo ops to try to portray the movement as large and widespread across Mexico.
Hoy miles de mexicanos protestaron en contra del gobierno comunista de @lopezobrador_.
— Disidente Bruno (@BrunoMoralesIs1) May 31, 2020
These demonstrations were reminiscent of upper-class marches held in Brazil in the lead-up to the impeachment and soft-coup against left-wing President Dilma Rousseff. They also mirrored the protests held in the elite bastion of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, which set the stage for a military coup against the elected socialist President Evo Morales in November 2019.
— Vicky Fuentes R. (@NoticiasVicky) May 30, 2020
Supporters of AMLO mocked the FRENA protests for their small sizes. And while the demonstrations clearly lacked the support of the majority of working-class Mexicans, the anti-AMLO Front does have friends in high places.
The leaked Broad Opposition Bloc document claimed that governors of 14 of Mexico’s 32 states support the opposition campaign. Of these, seven anti-AMLO governors have refused to follow the central government’s policy to flatten the Covid-19 curve, which is known as the “stop light” plan, and was created by Mexico’s Under-Secretary of Health Hugo López-Gatell Ramírez, an epidemiologist and expert on infectious diseases.
Several of these right-wing governors encouraged and even supported FRENA’s anti-AMLO protests. In the state of Jalisco, for instance, transit police vehicles were spotted sporting signs that said “Fuera (out) López Obrador”. That is to say, Jalisco’s local government used Mexican taxpayer money to assist protests against their elected president.
Jalisco’s opposition governor Enrique Alfaro has earned national notoriety through a series of scandals. This May, a Mexican construction worker named Giovanni López was arrested in Jalisco, allegedly for not wearing a mask, but the police appear to have beaten him to death. He died in the hospital of what doctors said was a traumatic brain injury, and suffered a gunshot wound in his leg.
The death of Giovanni López inspired large protests which began in Jalisco and subsequently spread across Mexico. These drew many parallels to the simultaneous protests in the United States over the brutal killing of George Floyd at the hands of police.
This is happening right now in Guadalajara, México. A man's life was taken.He was tortured and murdered by the Jalisco State Police because he didn't wear a face mask . WE DEMAND JUSTICE#JusticiaParaGiovanni pic.twitter.com/5UTvFVJLT9
— Moma Nuñez (@momanunez22) June 4, 2020
Despite the large demonstrations, Alfaro, the Jalisco governor, defended the arrest of Giovanni López. He even claimed that the protesters were from other parts of Mexico, blaming the protests on López Obrador and accusing his Morena party of encouraging violence. The inflammatory rhetoric fueled further unrest, exposing the extremism of much of the anti-AMLO opposition.
Alfaro also attracted national attention when it was revealed that he had paid more than 1 million Mexican pesos (nearly USD $50,000) of Jalisco state funds to outlets run by the prominent right-wing media personality Enrique Krauze to spread propaganda praising the governor.
Nunca olvidaré estas palabras de un hombre al que admiro y respeto. pic.twitter.com/4LH6bvIr9t
— Enrique Alfaro (@EnriqueAlfaroR) June 7, 2020
FRENA’s June 13/14 car protest and future plans
In its second anti-AMLO protest, FRENA claimed to have 140 vehicle caravans across Mexico and the United States on the weekend of June 13 and 14.
Protests were reported in all major Mexican urban centers, along with major cities in Texas, California, Michigan, Illinois, and Washington, as well as Toronto, Canada.
As in the demonstrations in May, these featured many luxury cars and trucks, bearing signs with messages like “Leave now AMLO, we don’t want communism”.
Es la BOA.
SR PRESIDENTE ni original es hace malas copias de sus ídolos CASTRO,MADURO,CHAVEno sabe leer instrucciones ya no improvisar no ve que todo le sale mal manda a lady infracción y manda reventadores y aquien le pasan la factura tonto de remate#AMLOseVA #FRENAAA pic.twitter.com/OMx3jD9KIl
— @laranapolilla (@laranapolilla) June 15, 2020
Mexican Twitter was quick to point out the unintentional comedy of the protests, such as a viral photo of a banner on the back of an SUV that read, “No to Communism, No to Socialism, No to Mozimism, Mexico is Catholic”. Mozimismo is not a real ideology; it is fictitious term made up by trolls.
Basta de Mozimismo. 🥀 pic.twitter.com/t4nutbwt3o
— Abraham Mendieta (@abrahamendieta) June 13, 2020
Supporters of AMLO also made their presence felt. Another image went viral on Twitter of a humble working-class Mexican holding a sign saying “AMLO, here in Dzan, Yucatan we love you! To hell with the fifís”.
Me quedé sin palabras.😢 pic.twitter.com/PeKGfd7Xs2
— Margen izquierdo 🇲🇽 (@MarBianhi) June 15, 2020
The anti-AMLO Front is still relatively small, and almost entirely dominated by Mexican elites. But FRENA claims to be growing rapidly, and the second protest practically doubled the size of the first in the number of participating cities, and a third protest is scheduled for June 27 and 28.
FRENA member Pedro Ferriz de Con calls for foreign intervention to remove AMLO
Although FRENA lacks a grassroots, working-class base, it has the support of some powerful elites. Not all of these oligarchs are publicly disclosed, however.
While the National Anti-AMLO Front says there are 67 members of its elite governing council, only four of these are named. Alongside Gilberto Lozano, the FRENA website lists Pedro Ferriz de Con, Rafael Loret de Mola, and Juan Bosco Abascal.
Pedro Ferriz de Con is an anti-AMLO journalist known for his propensity for hyperbolic statements, like claiming “the government has not had this many problems since the Mexican Revolution”. Ferriz ran for president in 2018 as an independent candidate.
This April, an audio recording was leaked in which Ferriz de Con called “for AMLO to be removed from office with the help of a group of businessmen along with foreign powers”.
These comments ignited a national scandal in Mexico, leading a group of citizens to bring a case against Ferriz de Con to the attorney general’s office.
Ferriz de Con published a video on Gilberto Lozano’s YouTube channel voicing his full-throated backing for FRENA. He also repeated his characteristically exaggerated claims, insisting that López Obrador’s government is the worst and most dangerous that Ferriz de Con has seen in his nearly 70 years of life, or that he had ever heard about from his father.
Under AMLO, “We see that there is not, as there was in the past, at least an opportunity for the free market, free competition, respect for private property, for intellectual property, for industrial property”, Ferriz de Con declared.
“I don’t want, for my children, for the next generations, to leave Mexico immersed in socialism. And today I’m seeing that this country is becoming the head of the Sao Paulo Forum”, he added, referring to an international conference of left-wing parties in Latin America.
Ferriz de Con concluded the video by insisting that FRENA should take advantage of the coronavirus pandemic, which he gleefully predicted would lead to unemployment, “enormous capital flight”, and a lack of foreign investment, in order to oust López Obrador.
FRENA member Rafael Loret de Mola, an elite neoliberal journalist
Joining Lozano and Ferriz de Con on the FRENA governing council is Rafael Loret de Mola, who retired very publicly in August 2019, after 38 years as a journalist, in an act of protest against AMLO, whom he accused of persecuting right-wing reporters.
Loret de Mola also made a video strongly endorsing FRENA, demonizing AMLO’s Fourth Transformation as the “Fifth Trap”, calling the López Obrador government a “farce”.
Although he has formally left the media, Loret de Mola’s son Carlos is continuing his father’s legacy as a viciously anti-AMLO journalist.
Carlos Loret de Mola previously hosted a popular news program on the Mexican media conglomerate Televisa. The younger Loret de Mola has worked with the top corporate media networks in both Mexico and the US, and currently writes for the Washington Post.
Both Lorets de Mola have also been instrumental in providing the intellectual justification for neoliberal economic policies rammed through in previous Mexican governments. Before AMLO’s presidency, the right-wing National Action Party (PAN) and neoliberal Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) both worked to make constitutional changes that privatized Mexico’s natural resources and state industries, resulting in private and international corporate involvement in the energy sector, particularly in oil and electricity.
These neoliberal reforms were extremely controversial, given public ownership of Mexico’s substantial fossil fuel reserves was enshrined in the country’s 1917 constitution, which was drafted during the Mexican Revolution.
So to justify and maintain these changes, and to criticize any group or individual opposed to them, the Mexican right-wing dispatched a team of self-declared “intellectuals” to influence the public. In Mexico, the public intellectual is still revered as a mainstream figure that has the ear of large parts of the population.
Rafael and Carlos Loret de Mola have diligently played the part of these anti-AMLO public intellectuals, spilling much ink criticizing the president.
The AMLO government has a series of “Essential Projects and Programs” that aim to wrest back the energy independence Mexico achieved in the late 1930s. Carlos Loret de Mola has harshly criticized AMLO’s National Electric Energy Plan, arguing that the state-owned power utility the Federal Electricity Commission (Comisión Federal de Electricidad, or CFE) is “inefficient”. His proposed alternative, of course, is “private initiative“, which he claims is cheaper and better for the environment — an argument challenged by actual scientific experts.
Carlos Loret de Mola and the Council of the Americas: the Washington connection
What is most noteworthy about this opposition figure, however, are his close links to the Americas Society / Council of the Americas (ASCOA), a US-based business organization posing as a think tank that lobbies for neoliberal policies to advance the interests of the most powerful corporations in North and South America.
ASCOA was founded at the height of the Cold War by oligarch David Rockefeller, expressly in order to unite efforts by corporate oligarchs to crush the growing socialist movements in Latin America.
ASCOA is funded by some of the biggest corporate giants on Earth, including Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BlackRock, Citigroup, Google, J.P. Morgan, Monsanto, Walmart, and Boeing. Correspondingly, it has pushed for aggressive measures to topple left-wing governments in Latin America, backing numerous coups.
Carlos Loret de Mola gave a speech to the Americas Society / Council of the Americas in 2015, titled “The Evolving Economics of Mexico’s Drug Cartels”. ASCOA’s media arm, Americas Quarterly, returned the favor, publishing a fawning review of his TV broadcast in Chiapas, arguing how the “Mexican government’s savings plans could come at the cost of people they are trying to help”.
Even more intriguing is an event that Carlos Loret de Mola held with ASCOA two days after AMLO won the July 2018 presidential election. ASCOA says it hosted “an off-the-record conference call with Carlos Loret de Mola, who shared insights into the implications of Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s landslide victory”. There is no recording or transcript of this call anywhere. Moreover, the call was “an invite-only program”; the only way to have participated was to pay to be an elite corporate “member” of ASCOA, alongside the most powerful corporations on Earth.
FRENA’s religious extremist member Juan Bosco Abascal warns of the “Synagogue of Satan”
The last currently known member of the FRENA governing council is Juan Bosco Abascal, an elite businessman with very strange fundamentalist religious beliefs.
On his Facebook page, where he posts non-stop anti-AMLO propaganda and has nearly 13,000 followers, Abascal says he worked as a “leader for human development projects” for restaurant and hotel chains, the Jalisco state’s finance ministry, and Pemex, the Mexican state-owned oil company.
Abascal also helped lead an ultra-conservative NGO that calls itself Family, Force of the Future. There, he served as a consultant and speaker, addressing themes such as “death, culture, abortion, the pill, and other scourges”.
Keeping in line with his religious extremism, Abascal says he is currently a teacher for Regnum Christi, an international federation of the Catholic Church. The priests and seminarians in Regnum Christi make up the fanatical Legionnaires, which the Wall Street Journal described as a “fast-growing conservative Roman catholic order” backed by “a handful of Latin American billionaires and some of the world’s top financiers”.
Regnum Christi “concentrates on ministering to the wealthy and powerful in the belief that by evangelizing society’s leaders, the beneficial impact on society is multiplied”, the Wall Street Journal explained. In other words, it pushes a trickle-down spirituality.
The Catholic order’s most infamous Mexican member is a priest by the name of Marcial Maciel, who was accused of sexually molesting eight teenage seminarians over two decades.
Juan Bosco Abascal has made his fundamentalist religious views very clear in lengthy video rants on Facebook and YouTube, in which the prominent anti-AMLO opposition figure frequently cites the Bible to explain how the “universal Free Masons” are trying to establish a “New World Order” and create a “world government” by using the international drug trade and mass media.
Abascal portrays leftist grassroots movements in Latin America, such as Venezuela’s Chavismo, as examples of this Satanic influence, citing Presidents Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro as symbols of his nefarious conspiracy.
One of Abascal’s YouTube rants is titled “The feminazis are worse than the coronavirus,” and it has more than 20,000 views. In another video, with nearly 50,000 views, the FRENA member describes how Free Masons are purportedly trying to “create apostates to de-Christianize” Mexico.
In an even more shocking YouTube rant, Abascal advises parents how to “cure” their LGBT children. He argues that “being gay, in whatever of its 120 forms, does not have a genetic or biological basis. They are all emotional and psycho-sexual deformities caused by inadequate parents and the toxic environment in which children were raised.”
In addition to warning in his videos of the threat of “losing our souls in the Synagogue of Satan or Church of the Anti-Christ,” Abascal has written two books pushing these deranged conspiracies.
One book-length screed blames virtually all of the world’s problems on “postmodernism“, warning of “the modern enslavement of humanity by the postmodern phenomena against Virtue, such as Trivialization, Desacralization, Dechristianization, Disintegration of the Family, and many more.”
The other book by Abascal, a novel titled From the Nest of the Serpent, reflects the anti-AMLO activist’s extreme-right worldview. It tells the story of a brave multimillionaire protagonist who, inspired by his Christian faith, refuses to work with the global drug mafia; so the bad guys bribe the corrupt politicians who “abandoned their Catholic faith” to murder his family members. The capitalist oligarch responds by forming a private army he calls the “Spartan League,” and takes his battle to the “Universal Masonry,” declaring a war to rid the planet of drugs and Satanic influence.
In case it wasn’t already clear that Abascal sees himself and his elite friends as the multimillionaire protagonist of the novel, he situates the story in Mexico.
The cover of the book employs textbook anti-Semitic imagery, displaying a Star of David caging the planet.
Abascal’s fascistic views did not discourage Gilberto Lozano from openly promoting him as an “esteemed member” of FRENA. On his personal YouTube channel, Lozano published footage of Abascal endorsing the National Anti-AMLO Front.
In the video rant, Abascal refers to AMLO as “MALO” (bad in Spanish), and repeatedly calls the global coronavirus pandemic the “China plague.” Abascal attacks the Mexican health system and medical professionals, and spins an elaborate conspiracy: The prominent FRENA member claims that the López Obrador government has used Covid-19 as a weapon, that it “intentionally let Mexico get infected with the virus” in order to implement its revolutionary Fourth Transformation, and that the country is now “heading to a monstrous, unimaginable crisis.”
In the past, one other member of FRENA had been publicly disclosed: Pedro Luis Martín Bringas, a prominent shareholder in the Soriana Organization, a grocery store chain based in Gilberto Lozano’s hometown of Monterrey and one of the businesses granted a tax waiver under previous governments.
Martín Bringas appears to have been kicked out of FRENA on May 17, however, according to the website.
One point of ire for the big business community is the AMLO administration’s efforts to force businesses to pay their current and back taxes, in order to provide much-needed government revenue.
FRENA brands gender equality and homosexuality a communist conspiracy
The cast of delirious right-wing fanatics arrayed against Lopez Obrador may seem too fringe to have a sizable impact on Mexican politics, but these are precisely the same kind of extremists that have touched off successful campaigns to overthrow leftist governments in Latin America in the past.
In Bolivia, similarly fascistic elements were activated to lead the US-backed military coup in November 2019, and in Brazil right-wing forces launched a soft coup against Brazil’s Workers’ Party and ushered in the current extreme-right Jair Bolsonaro administration.
A close look at the FRENA website reflects precisely the same kind of fascistic ideology that has spread across Latin America with the help of Washington.
One section of website is titled “Mexico Sao Paulo Forum Communist Plan.” Here, the anti-AMLO Front argues that the mere presence of López Obrador’s Morena party at the left-wing event – an annual conference bringing together progressive organizations from across Latin America – in Cuba in 2018 means that the administration intends to make Mexico a communist country.
FRENA also fabricated a paranoid and plan of the Sao Paulo Forum to “install communism in Mexico.”
Some of the steps in this phony blueprint include ensuring “gender equity”, “de-mystifying religions,” “reforming education for equality,” and the spooky “progressive agenda (ABORTION, drugs, homosexuality, relativism of values.”
The conspiracy theory that the Sao Paulo Forum is controlling governments and social movements in South and even North America is increasingly popular in far-right circles. This deranged accusation has even been used against The Grayzone and its editor Max Blumenthal to absurdly paint them as orchestrators of the anti-police brutality protests currently sweeping the US.
FRENA leader Gilberto Lozano has repeated this conspiracy on numerous occasions. In an interview on Mexico’s major television network La Octava on June 5, Lozano stated in no uncertain terms that “there is no doubt that Francisco Arias, Venezuela’s ambassador to Mexico, is writing [AMLO’s] agenda”.
La Octava host Hernán Gómez Bruera, a popular mainstream Mexican journalist, asked Lozano how exactly the López Obrador government was driving Mexico toward communism, noting that AMLO never talks about socialism. Lozano again pointed to Morena’s participation in the Sao Paulo Forum and insisted AMLO is “following the Sao Paulo Forum’s agenda”.
This point is particularly ironic, because Mexico’s center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (Partido de la Revolución Democrática, or PRD) is also publicly listed as an official member of the Sao Paulo Forum, and the PRD has joined the opposition movement against AMLO. The PRD was part of a coalition to support candidate Ricardo Anaya against López Obrador in the 2018 presidential elections, and the PRD is also apparently a member of the Broad Opposition Bloc, BOA, that is conspiring to remove AMLO from office.
On its website, FRENA also maintains a “Gallery of the Communist Dictatorship”, which is a name and shame collection of AMLO supporters, including unflattering pictures of current cabinet members, politicians, journalists, and intellectuals.
Weaponizing blatant xenophobia, this FRENA blacklist makes sure to emphasize which of López Obrador’s allies were born in foreign countries by highlighting their ethnic background next to their name – failing to mention that they are all naturalized Mexican citizens who have spent decades living in the country.
Gilberto Lozano has repeatedly resorted to this xenophobia in his attacks on AMLO. In his June 5 interview on La Octava, Lozano once again tried to portray López Obrador’s top advisors as foreign fifth columnists, insisting that John Ackerman (born in the US), Paco Ignacio Taibo II (born in Spain), and Héctor Díaz Polanco (born in Cuba) were not truly Mexican, even though they are naturalized citizens.
The next Bolsonaro?
Hernán Gómez, the La Octava presenter, prefaced his interview with Lozano by acknowledging that Lozano is an extreme figure. He even published a follow-up column describing FRENA as the “Frente Nazi-onal contra AMLO,” likening the front to the Nazis.
But Gómez believed it was important to interview the FRENA leader out of concern that Lozano could become a figure similar to Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro.
“I know there are people who do not agree with giving a platform to these kinds of people, but I am convinced that we cannot underestimate figures like this,” Gómez said. “Because some time ago, the president of Brazil was a mediocre legislator who could not get a law passed, a rude and quarrelsome man who, like Lozano, who nobody took seriously. In fact, some thought that he was mentally unstable.”
“Few imagined that he would become Brazil’s president. But as after Obama came Trump, so did Bolsonaro come after Lula,” the La Octava host continued. “So, it is wrong to underestimate people like Gilberto Lozano, not so much because somewhere he may have hidden grandeur, but rather because if it goes badly for this [AMLO] government, or if they are not able to meet the expectations of certain sectors such as the middle class, eventually an ultra-right, anti-system figure could grow strong, and get a stroke of luck”.
José Guadalupe Argüello III is an educator based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He can be found on Twitter at @jgarguello3.