AMLO plays down large anti-government rally

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Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel “AMLO” López Obrador may still be one of the region’s most popular leaders, but not everything is going swimmingly for the head of state, after a massive rally packed Mexico City’s El Zócalo square this weekend to protest his attempts at electoral reform.

“The City of Mexico estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people max, but that isn’t a lot. There are 25 million people who sympathize with conservatism in Mexico,” AMLO said today during his traditional daily press briefing. The president promised a larger mobilization on March 18, when his supporters will gather on the occasion of the 85th anniversary of the country’s oil nationalization.

Sunday’s protest was focused on an electoral reform that targets the human and economic resources of Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE), seen by AMLO as in cahoots with the country’s right-wing establishment. The reform could also end up changing INE’s Executive Secretary, replacing him with someone more sympathetic to the current administration.

The protesters are hoping that a Supreme Court ruling will annul the reform on constitutional grounds ahead of next year’s presidential elections.

“All the conservative factions are teaming up. But I have always said this is good for the country. They used to trick people when it was the PRI [Institutional Revolutionary Party] or the PAN [National Action Party], but now they are clearly together, with the support of the majority of the media. And they don’t care about democracy, what they want is an oligarchy, a government of the rich instead of a government of the people,” Mr. López Obrador added.

The PRI party ruled Mexico for most of the 20th century, amid massive questions on electoral fairness and transparency. The contested 1988 presidential vote led to the creation of new autonomous electoral authorities in the 1990s, paving the way for the PAN to finally end the PRI’s monopoly with Vicente Fox’s presidential win at the turn of the century.

Both parties have now united in opposition to AMLO, who has a history of contesting election results. In the hotly contested 2020 election in the U.S., he even waited until all of Donald Trump’s judicial appeals were over before congratulating President Joe Biden on his win.

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