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Tens of thousands of opponents demand a “free vote” in Mexico

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Tens of thousands of people gathered this Sunday (02/18/2024) in the Zócalo, Mexico’s main square, to demand a “free vote” in the presidential elections of June 2, which profile the left-wing ruling party as the great favorite. .

The participants denounced the attempt by the president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to orchestrate a “state election” that favors the official candidate Claudia Sheinbaum, who leads the race with more than 60% support, according to various polls. .

“Today, from power, whoever reached that first floor by the free will of the citizens intends to destroy that staircase so that no one else can walk it,” said Lorenzo Córdova, former president of the National Electoral Institute (INE) and main speaker of the demonstration.

The opposition claims that López Obrador seeks to reduce the capabilities and autonomy of the Mexican electoral authority, the INE, through a series of reforms that he sent to Congress.

Lorenzo Córdova, former president of the National Electoral Institute of Mexico, was one of the main speakers during the massive opposition rally

Also, he accuses the leftist president of using the state apparatus to promote Sheinbaum, whose main rival is the center-right candidate with indigenous roots, Xóchitl Galvez.

The crowd gathered in the Zócalo, made up mainly of middle-class citizens who came as a family or in groups carrying banners and wearing pink and white clothing, responded to the speech with phrases such as “López out!” or “López out!” Let the Zócalo vibrate, long live the free vote!

“Our democracy is not touched,” read a banner displayed on the stage where several leaders gave speeches.

López Obrador “intervenes every day in the elections, that is the reason why I believe there is a state election,” said Arturo Sánchez, a 64-year-old retiree who attended accompanied by his wife and daughter.

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Report permanent harassment to institutions

In his speech, Córdova insisted that the current government has been subjecting other institutions that guarantee the balance of powers and oversight, such as the Supreme Court or autonomous regulatory bodies, to “permanent harassment.”

“Today, because they make them uncomfortable, those in power seek to disappear, subordinate or capture them,” said the speaker, who reiterated the citizen and non-partisan nature of the demonstration.

“Democracy is not touched” reads one of the signs carried by opposition protesters in the Zócalo of Mexico City.

“The current government does not want to have anyone overshadow it, in a democracy there have to be checks and balances,” commented Julio Rodriguez Trigueros, a citizen who arrived at the march along with his two teenage children.

Unfulfilled promises

“He promised us a lot of things that he didn’t deliver. I am one of the converts, I voted for him and I realized that he deceived us. (…) I would ask you to stop allying yourself with drug traffickers and not get involved in the elections, but there are a thousand other things to improve such as security or the health system,” he told EFE in the Zócalo of the City of Méndez. xico, Juan Carlos GrandÃo, from the State of Mexico.

Like him, around 90,000 people came to the square – according to data from the Ministry of the Interior – where the National Palace, residence of President López Obrador, is located, to protest against the president and given the proximity of the elections in June 2024.

“It is the third march that I have come to protest against the abuse and cooptation of the institutions that it cost us a lot of work to do as a counterweight to power. I believe that it has destroyed the country and has polarized the people, it has certainly not been a positive government,” said Tatiana, from Mexico City.

With information from AFP, Reuters, Efe, Milenio, Reforma, El Universal

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