Mexicans rally to protest election overhaul, see democracy in danger


MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Thousands of people gathered in Mexico on February 26 to denounce the government’s move to curtail voting rights as a threat to democracy.

More than 500,000 people attended in Mexico City, organizers said, with video footage on social media showing protesters filling the central Zocalo square and spilling into adjacent streets. One of the officers nearby said he heard a figure of 500,000, but other officers gave lower estimates.

mexican Wednesday parliament approved A major overhaul of the National Electoral Institute (INE), an independent agency that Lopez Obrador attacked as corrupt and inefficient.

The 69-year-old president denies his changes will undermine Mexico’s democracy. I promise to bring you to

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Veronica Echevarria, a 58-year-old psychologist from Mexico City who attended the protest, said she feared Lopez Obrador’s INE reforms would keep the president in power. he denies this.

“We are fighting to defend our democracy,” said Echevarría, wearing a hat that read “Keep your hands off the INE.”

She and thousands of others gathered in the Zocalo on Sunday morning. Many carried the Mexican flag and wore pink, the colors of the INE. “Viva Mexico!” shouts. and “Lopez out!” rang out periodically as the mass of people moved forward.

Over the years, the Zocalo has hosted many gatherings led by Lopez Obrador. This is both in his long career as president and as the scourge of Mexico’s established opposition.

According to many political analysts, INE and its predecessors played a key role in creating a pluralist democracy that ended decades of one-party rule in 2000.

Opposition politician Fernando Belaunzaran, who helped organize the protests, argued that the INE changes weakened the electoral system and increased the risk of controversy clouding the 2024 elections in which López Obrador’s successor would be chosen.

“Presidents usually try to ensure governability and succession stability, but they create uncertainty,” said Berunzaran. “He’s playing with fire.”

The president of Mexico can only serve one six-year term.

Belaunzaran said on Twitter that more than 500,000 people gathered in the capital on Sunday to protest the overhaul of the INE.

According to news reports and videos broadcast on social media, protests took place in Jalisco, Yucatán, Nuevo Leon, Queretaro, Guanajuato, Veracruz and other states.

At least 22,000 people gathered in Monterrey, capital of Nuevo Leon state, the Excelsior newspaper said, citing local authorities. In the center of Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco, he said another 20,000 people took to the streets, news he network Millenio reported.

Mexico City protester Angel Garcia, 50, said the demonstration was also an appeal to the Supreme Court, which ruled the INE overhaul was unconstitutional.

Garcia, a lawyer, argued that Mexican democracy would “go back to the past” if Mexico did not defend the INE.

“It is now or never,” he said.

Leftist Lopez Obrador, who claims to have been ousted twice before winning a landslide election victory in 2018, argues that the INE is too high and skewed in favor of the opposition. The institute denies this.

The president called Sunday’s protests a partisan attempt by the opposition to discredit his government.

According to INE, the presidential overhaul violates the constitution, undermines its independence, eliminates thousands of jobs dedicated to protecting the electoral process, and makes it difficult to hold free and fair elections.

Lopez Obrador’s approval rating remains above 60% in polls, with other municipalities checking his power also calling it a waste of public funds and hostile to his political projects. weakened for a reason.

He says the INE refresh will save him $150 million a year.

Polls show that the president’s National Renewal Movement (MORENA) has become a dominant force in Mexico in just a few years and is keen to win the 2024 elections.

Antonio Mondragon, a retired dentist at the Mexico City protests who voted for Lopez Obrador in 2018, said people are sick of the president acting like a “dictator.”

“We need to get back to democracy,” Mondragon, 83, said.

Reporting by Dave Graham Additional reporting by Diego Ole and Valentine Hiller Editing by Josie Cao, Diane Kraft and Chris Reese

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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