In a massive rally that brought together more than 100,000 people, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador assured on Saturday that the “oligarchs” will not return to power, while attacking US legislators who propose to combat drug trafficking in Mexico with troops from his country.
In the Zócalo, the central square of the Mexican capital, where his supporters gathered, the leftist politician commemorated the 85th anniversary of the expropriation of oil, which until 1938 was in foreign hands, mainly American and British. “Cooperation, yes, submission no, interventionism no!” López Obrador cried, referring to a recent bill by Republican congressmen to designate the cartels that traffic fentanyl as “terrorist” groups, which would open the door to the shipment of American soldiers to Mexico.
The proposal was presented at a time when the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) asks the Mexican government to “do more” against fentanyl, a synthetic drug 50 times more powerful than heroin and to which 70,000 overdose deaths were attributed in 2022 alone. in that country.
“We remind those irresponsible hypocritical politicians that Mexico is an independent, free country, not a colony or protectorate of the United States. And that they can threaten us with committing any outrage but we will never allow them to violate our sovereignty and trample on the dignity of our homeland,” he claimed. The president, who enjoys an approval rating of 63%, maintained that his government is fighting criminal groups and that crime rates have been reduced, especially intentional homicide by 10%.
– Continuity –
Critics of López Obrador point out that the rally was actually called to respond to an opposition march that took to the streets on February 26 to protest his controversial electoral reforms, approved in Congress but the subject of litigation in the Supreme Court. It is not “a civic party for all Mexicans, but his response to the opposition that came out to protest against his electoral reform,” historian and political analyst José Antonio Crespo told AFP.
In his hour-long speech, he asserted that “whatever they do, the oligarchs will not return to power,” referring to the opposition. For the first time he spoke openly about the continuity in the presidency of his party, Morena. Mexico will elect a new president, renew the bicameral Congress and thousands of local positions by mid-2024.
“I am convinced that any of the applicants who wins the poll to elect our movement’s candidate will apply the same policy in favor of the people and in favor of the nation,” he said. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and the mayoress of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, were present at the ceremony, leaders to be candidates for the Morena party, to which early polls give a wide advantage.
Before the crowd in the Zócalo and surrounding streets, the president mentioned the strength of the peso against the dollar, a record number of jobs registered with social security, the fight against corruption and social assistance programs as achievements of his government.
– controversial reform –
And although López Obrador did not refer to his controversial reform that heavily cuts the budget and the staff of the National Electoral Institute (INE), in charge of organizing the elections, the debate was present in the environment. “I think that we do have to change the INE, they are corrupt, they already stole an election from López Obrador,” said Eduardo Ramírez, a 22-year-old law student.
Critics of the reform in the INE fear a government intervention in the elections, which has triggered mobilizations rarely seen by opponents, followed by a government reply. The president had already called his supporters to the streets on November 27 after another opposition protest.
The political columnist Hernán Gómez Bruera considered that the commemoration of the oil expropriation is a “pretext” for the president to keep his social base mobilized and believes that the electoral reform was not necessary given the wide popularity of the ruling party. “It is a mistake to want to force it without the consensus of the main political forces, since that will cast a shadow of doubt on the result of the election, which, in any case, Morena will win widely,” the analyst estimated.