What is Behind the Summit of Global Conservatism Held in Mexico?

Gustavo A Maranges

On December 18 and 19, Mexico hosted the Conservative Political Action Coalition (CPAC), a global meeting of far-right forces. Thinking about the date, the context, and the participants provide valuable information to elucidate what this meeting was all about. It was not an ordinary or scheduled meeting, but an emergency one after the successive failures of the regional right wing.

Just two years ago, Latin America seemed to be the ideal place to try out the most reactionary policies of our time. Once again, as they did with neoliberalism in the 80s, the U.S. and European establishments tried to make our region the guinea pig. The ultra-conservative forces are willing to repeat history. However, they miss the part that history repeats itself, but with characteristics and manifestations different from previous cycles as Marxists point out.

This year has been special in the region politically speaking, with results not favoring the ultra-right and something outside the schematic of the Europe and U.S. neo-liberal masters. So hastily they organized the second meeting this year out of the blue, assembling sort of a crisis cabinet with the bottom of the barrel of rogues and fascists.

The event was convened by the ultra-right Mexican actor Eduardo Verastegui, who in 2009 received the Hazte Oír Award, which is sponsored by the same-named non-governmental (NGO) based in Spain. Coincidently, its president was proven to have strong links with the ultra-Catholic group “El Yunque”.

Among the invitees are the president of the Spanish far-right party VOX Santiago Abascal, the Republican Senator Ted Cruz, the former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, the recently elected mayor of the metropolitan region of Lima (Peru), the son of current Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, the governor of Santa Cruz (Bolivia) Luis Fernando Camacho, who played a major role in the coup against Evo Morales in 2019 and currently is the organizer of the strikes there to undermine the popularly elected President, Luis Arce.

Likewise, other well-known figures include former Polish President Lech Welesa former Chilean presidential candidate Jose Antonio Kast, former right-wing Argentinean President Mauricio Macri, Donald Trump’s advisor Steve Bannon and the former U.S. president himself, who addressed the public by video conference.

Another interesting fact is that among the event’s funders are the aforementioned Spanish NGO Hazte Oír and the U.S. National Rifle Association, which makes the direction of the real agenda of the event even more evident.

There is no doubt that among those invited are the best and the most vicious of global neo-fascism, whose only real mission is to articulate a response to contain the regional progressive cycle. Especially at a time when the US is going through a severe crisis, which prevents it from exerting more pressure on its southern neighbors.

Their strategy is crystal clear. They try to polarize societies, to divide societies with extremist, racist, xenophobic, and misogynist speeches. They applied it in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Cuba, and Venezuela before, and the recent elections in Brazil are perhaps the most recent example.

Why Mexico, and why now?

The conference in Mexico responds to three essential and interrelated factors. On the one hand, their urgency to promote the polarization of Mexican society and thus weaken the real power of the current President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). On the other hand, to be the counterbalance to the upcoming Pacific Alliance Summit, which will be substantially different from the previous ones since most of the governments attending are progressive.

Weakening AMLO is a strategic move in the current context, since Obrador’s presidency has been one of the anchors of the current progressive wave in Latin America. Just to know how “random” it could be, this is the second time this type of event is held in Latin America. The first was in Brazil in 2019, a few months after Bolsonaro became president and just days after the coup d’état in Bolivia.

The fact that Donald Trump officially announced his candidacy for the 2024 elections just a few days ago is not a coincidence. Historically, these meetings have been decisive in defining Republican candidates for the presidency. For example, in 1974, Ronald Reagan took the opportunity to launch his candidacy and used CPAC as an electoral platform for the 1981 elections.

All this data shows that these events are not by chance but are a carefully articulated strategy because, if any merit must be given to the right wing, is that they have never stopped thinking as a class.

Beyond this meeting’s real intake, it also works as propaganda. The results of the Constitutional Referendum in Chile, the elections in Brazil, and the current political scenario in countries such as Bolivia and the United States, show how essential is to mobilize the bases during crises.

To do so, they need a common enemy, and they have already created it: the much-used ghost of communism. Just as they did decades ago, now they have to keep raising it as a specter of evil. Therefore, this conference is also a sort of large-scale conservative rally to try and keep the militancy up in a context that does not favor the right wing, despite everything they have done. At the end of the day CPAC conference had an air of desperation to it.