Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador led a massive rally this Saturday in the main square of Mexico City, attended by tens of thousands of people.
Although the meeting was called to commemorate the expropriation of the oil industry in 1938 in Mexico, many participants agreed that the political act constituted the opening salvo of the 2024 presidential race from which the next president will emerge.
Perhaps aware of the recent tensions with the United States over deaths in that country from overdoses of fentanyl trafficked from Mexico, López Obrador devoted part of his speech to praising former US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who did not actively oppose the 1938 oil expropriation. even though many companies were American.
“The authenticity of his good neighbor policy had its best example in respect for the sovereignty of our country,” López Obrador said, referring to Roosevelt.
The mobilization could be one of the last to be headed by López Obrador, famous for his charisma and easygoing temperament. The process to name the presidential candidate for López Obrador’s party, Morena, will begin this year. Later, the candidate of that political force may come to the fore.
Either way, most agree that few presidential hopefuls can match the popularity of the president, whose approval ratings routinely top 60%. This is especially true for the Morena party, which was largely built around the figure of López Obrador.
Alberto Martinez, 59, said he was confident that the head of government of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, would be Morena’s candidate. Martínez pointed out that many like Sheinbaum’s preparation and prudence, but she will accept the candidate that emerges from Morena.
Most of the polls show that Sheinbaum is the favorite in the internal race followed by Secretary of Foreign Relations Marcelo Ebrard, who also governed the Mexican capital.
“The important thing is that he follow the ideology of López Obrador,” Martínez said. “This train is on track, you just have to get on and drive it.”
Former President Lázaro Cárdenas, one of López Obrador’s heroes, made Mexicans happy when on March 18, 1938, he expropriated the oil industry, which was mainly in the hands of foreign companies.
One of López Obrador’s main political initiatives has been the rescue of the state oil company that Cárdenas founded out of crushing debt and low hydrocarbon production.
Those who attended the rally in the Zócalo unreservedly approve of López Obrador, who with his nationalist stance drastically reduced the ability of US anti-drug agents to operate in Mexico.
Blas Ramos, a 69-year-old electrical engineer, held up a sign demanding the departure of the FBI and CIA from Mexico.
Ramos said the president is right to oppose calls in the United States to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations or to use the US military to combat criminal groups.
“They are hypocrites, they do nothing to prevent drug use” in the United States, Ramos said, referring to US politicians who propose such measures.
The synthetic opioid fentanyl, which kills about 70,000 Americans a year, is made primarily in Mexico from precursor chemicals smuggled in from China.
López Obrador assures that Mexico does not produce the opioid, a statement with which most experts disagree, and affirms that the United States has a fentanyl problem because American families do not give their children enough hugs.
The president lashed out at proposals that the United States declare the Mexican cartels terrorists or intervene militarily against these criminal organizations.
“Mexico is an independent and free country, not a colony or a protectorate of the United States,” he said. “Cooperation yes, submission no!”, cried the head of state.
Ramos trusted that the movement that the president calls “the Fourth Transformation of Mexico” will not end when López Obrador ends his presidential term in September 2024.
This movement started a long time ago, according to Ramos.
“We have all our lives waiting for this movement,” he asserted.
“This movement will not end in six years,” said the electrician, referring to the length of presidential terms in Mexico. “It is a process that will take 30, 40 years.”
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