Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador led a march ont the capital in response to crritics ooposed to his electoral reform schemeImage: Toya Sarno Jordan/REUTERS
Mexico's president leads massive pro-government march
November 28, 2022
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador led a massive "people's march" with an eye to the next election. Critics believe that people were compelled to participate.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador led thousands of people on a march to the capital Sunday.
"Mexico is no longer run by oligarchy, now there is a democratic system whose priority is the poor," Lopez Obrador told to the crowd.
The rally was a response to a large march led by critics of the president two weeks ago. Those protesting two weeks ago opposed Obrador's proposal to reform the country's electoral authority.
Onlookers shook hands and took selfies with the president as he passed through Mexico City. Many waved flags of the ruling National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party.
Obrador's march marked four years in office for the leftist leader. Jesus Ramirez, the presidential spokesman, said at least 1.2 million people joined the rally.
Experts believe that this was the first such march led by a Mexican president in at least four decades.
Obrador eyes next general election
Lopez Obrador's march comes ahead of the next general elections slated for 2024. Mexican presidents are limited to a single six-year term, meaning he cannot run again.
"No to re-election," he told the crowd on Sunday.
Nevertheless, the president hopes to see his party hold onto power after he steps aside.
Three of the his allies and potential successors — Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and Interior Minister Adan Augusto Lopez — accompanied him at the rally.
Opposition says protesters compelled to participate
Clara Jusidman, founder of INCIDE Social, an NGO specialized in democracy, development and human rights, said that what is important is less the number of participants but rather "why they participated.''
According to her, many Mexicans feel compelled to support Obrador as they receive money from the government.
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The opposition insisted that the participants had been forced to join the march, claims Obrador dismissed.
Most supporters at the march had been bused in from different provinces across Mexico. Their transport was organized by the Morena party, unions and social groups.
"I come from Sonora by plane and I paid for my ticket,'' America Verdugo, a lawyer, told AP.
By contrast, Pedro Sanchez, a bricklayer who came with his wife from southern Mexico, told AP that his municipality had organized everything.
His plan to revamp the electoral system has proven to be his most controversial move so far. His proposals include improving democracy by limiting economic influence in politics and cutting candidates' advertising time.
His opponents fear that the change could precede a power grab. They also believe that his plan could reduce the budget of the electoral commission and change the way councilors are elected.
Obrador's approval ratings are around 60%. He owes much of his popularity to his social welfare programs aimed at helping the elderly and disadvantaged Mexicans.
Referring to the rally led by the opposition, Fernando Dworak, a political analyst at the Mexican Autonomous Institute of Technology said that "It was a serious mistake by the opposition to believe that the president can be beaten on the streets."
So far, his Morena party won four of six races for the position of governor in last year's midterm elections, giving the ruling party control of 22 of Mexico's 32 states.
This gives the party an important advantage heading into the 2024 presidential elections.