This piece was co-authored with Jules Ownby
Mexico’s Green party, el Partido Verde Ecologista de México, (PVEM) have a penchant for the controversial and the self-contradictory. Despite presenting itself as “Green,” experts claim that the PVEM has been responsible for significant environmental damage in the country, in one case supporting the construction of hotels that would destroy ecologically important mangrove trees in Cancun. Beyond environmental issues, they have endorsed the return of the death penalty for kidnappers, and representatives in the party have at times opposed same-sex marriage. Furthermore, the party has been accused of taking and handing out bribes, as well as designing policies to benefit the family business of their founder, Jorge Emilio Gonzalez Martinez.
Over the years, the PVEM has purchased real estate on every inch of the political spectrum: here supporting the death penalty, there supporting bolstering public schooling. The party’s frequent straying into right-wing territory (and the death penalty issue in particular), however, is so uncharacteristically “green” that it led the European Greens to withdraw their recognition of the PVEM as a fellow Green Party in 2009. Nevertheless, in spite of their controversial status both at home and internationally, the PVEM continues to be one of the most significant political players in Mexico. All of this begs the question: what, if anything, do the Mexican Greens stand for?
The strongest possible condemnation of the Mexican Greens may be as a group of ecofascists. Ecofascism frames environmental degradation as part of a crisis of decadent modernity—a product of loose morals and the inferior cultures of “backward peoples.” According to leading scholar Janet Biehl, it first emerged in Germany, where Nazi ideology was “linked with traditional agrarian romanticism and hostility to urban civilization.” Many have noted the rise of ecofascism in radical, right-wing groups. Ecofascist ideas about immigration control have penetrated into popular conservative political parties. A right-wing Green party might be a good place for these ideas to foment.
However, it seems that the PVEM has not engaged in much ecofascist messaging. Their justification for the death penalty has nothing to do with removing “bad elements” or population control and a lot to do with their conception of punitive justice — one shared by other Mexican political parties. They claim that “it is the obligation of the state to confront the worst criminals with the severity that they deserve.” The PVEM has also supported better treatment of migrants passing through Mexico, unlike other conservative parties that have given an environmental justification for restricting immigration.
What is notable about the PVEM is not their combination of social conservatism and environmentalism, but the inconsistency of their support for both. As many have written before, the Mexican Greens’ corruption scandals tell a story of a party primarily focused on the profits of its founders. From paying influencers to post their support for them on social media, to being involved in money laundering scandals, to making unprecedented and less-than-kosher deals with the president in an effort to grow their own political power, it seems as though the only true constant in the PVEM’s political platform is corruption. As one expert bluntly put it “the Partido Verde is the highest expression of political corruption.”
While it is not clear what the party truly stands for, what has been made clear is that “Green” is largely a brand here, and not a sign of a true commitment to environmentalism — ecofascist or otherwise.