Mexican president slams protesters: ‘They don’t care about democracy’ – National

Mexico’s president on Monday lashed out at demonstrators who oppose his plan to cut campaign funding, downplaying their concerns over a threat to democracy and expressing hopes of trying to ease rising political tensions. smashed.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador appears to be enjoying the conflict, insulting tens of thousands of people who demonstrated in Mexico City’s main square over the weekend, calling them partners of thieves and drug traffickers. is.

“Here in the Zocalo, the number of wallet-stealing pickpockets has increased, but with so many white-collar criminals in one place, what do you want to do?” Lopez Obrador told the Daily Morning reporter. At the conference, he said:

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At the root of the dispute is a plan by López Obrador, approved by the Mexican Senate last week, to cut salaries and funding for local election offices and curtail training for citizens who run and oversee polling stations. The change will also reduce sanctions for candidates who fail to report campaign spending.

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Lopez Obrador denies the reforms are a threat to democracy and says the criticism is elitist. .

López Obrador mocks the protesters’ slogan “Don’t touch INE (National Electoral Institute)”, saying that their slogans are “Don’t touch corruption”, “Don’t touch privilege”, “Don’t touch drug government”. No,” he said. ”

“They don’t care about democracy. What they want is to continue the oligarchy, the rule of the rich,” the president said.

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Protesters say electoral law changes approved last week threaten democracy and could mark a return to past practices of vote manipulation. Few people had a kind word for Lopez Obrador at Sunday’s demonstration.

“The road he’s on is towards socialism, communism,” said Fernando Gutierrez, 55, a small businessman. “That’s evident from the aid to Cuba,” Gutierrez said. Lopez Obrador has imported coronavirus vaccines, medical workers and stone railroad ballast from Cuba, but has shown little interest in socialist policies at home.

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Demonstrators on Sunday dressed in white and pink, the colors of the National Electoral Association, and chanted slogans such as “Don’t touch my vote!” As in a similar but somewhat larger protest on November 13, demonstrators appeared somewhat wealthier than average demonstrators.

The heated nature of the debate caught the attention of the US government.

“Today in Mexico, we are seeing a big debate about electoral reform that will test the independence of our electoral and judicial systems,” Brian A. Nichols, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, wrote on Twitter. “The United States supports independent and well-resourced electoral bodies that strengthen democratic processes and the rule of law.”

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Lopez Obrador said last Thursday that he would sign the law change despite anticipating court challenges. He expressed a desire to overturn.

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Lorenzo Cordova, president of the National Electoral Association, said the reforms “seek to cut the thousands of people who work every day to ensure credible elections and pose risks to future elections.” Let’s go,” he said.

The president has lashed out at the judiciary, regulators and oversight bodies, leading some to fear he is trying to revive the practices of the former PRI party. 2000 election.

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Tyler Mathias, who has been researching the Americas for Human Rights Watch, said it was “disappointing” that López Obrador decided to make major changes to a part of Mexico’s apparently functioning democracy. ” he said.

Since the establishment of the National Electoral Authority in the 1990s, voter numbers have become much more reliable, and the institution recognized Lopez Obrador’s victory in the 2018 election.

“It is worrisome that all this is happening on the eve of the 2024 elections, when the president has shown little tolerance for those who disagree with him,” Matthias said.

Elections in Mexico are expensive by international standards. One reason is that nearly all legal campaign funding is provided by the government by law. The electoral authority also issues secure voter ID cards, the most commonly accepted form of identification in Mexico, and oversees voting in the remote and often dangerous country.

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Lopez Obrador remains popular in Mexico, with an approval rating of around 60%. Although he cannot run for re-election, his Morena party is in favor of next year’s national elections, leaving the opposition in turmoil.

Part of his popular appeal comes from his denunciations of highly paid government bureaucrats, and the fact that some voters are higher paid than the president angers him. But Lopez Obrador has also openly criticized supervisory and regulatory bodies, courts and Congress.

The opposition parties, tainted by corruption scandals, are struggling to compete with the president’s popular spending and distribution program.

Etellekt Consultores director Ruben Salazar said, “The opposition lacks the leadership to defend all these institutions, such as the INE and the Supreme Court.”

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