Why Mexico’s president is promoting a recall against himself

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Standing in front of hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic supporters in downtown Mexico City’s Central Square, President Andres Manuel López Obrador saved his most striking remarks for the end of his speech.

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He urged Mexicans packed into the Zocalo to participate in an April referendum to decide whether they want to boot him from office more than two years ago.

López Obrador said at a rally to mark his midterm on Wednesday, “None of that, ‘They picked me for six years and I can do whatever I want. “If a governess isn’t at work and isn’t obeying the people, cancel their order and get out!”

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The 68-year-old president believes he has nothing to worry about.

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Recent polls show that nearly two-thirds of the public acknowledged his performance since taking office in 2018 on a platform that has called for combating corruption and inequality and rolling back free-market economic policies. A radical change of Mexican society was promised.

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Families and marching bands making their way to the Zocalo passed vendors with gray-haired Lopez Obrador dolls and posters with the hashtag #QueSigaAMLO, or “May the AMLO continue”, referring to the president by his initials. Many said they see a referendum, authorized by the 2019 constitutional reform led by the president, as evidence of his honest character when compared to decades of presidents accused of corruption.

“Amlo is the first president who has dared to test himself in public,” said Debanhi Andrea García, 22. “Because he is like that, we support him.”

(Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)

Mexicans have until December 25 to sign a petition supporting the referendum, which could go ahead with the signatures of at least 3% of eligible voters, among other warnings.

So far, the initiative has received more than 703,000 signatures from Mexicans who have valid voting certificates, or 25% of the required total, according to the National Electoral Institute, an independent agency overseeing the process. (That tally includes signatures which will be omitted because they are duplicates or have other irregularities.)

Officially called the “repealing of the mandate”, the measure follows other efforts by the president to increase citizen engagement in public policy. López Obrador has also supported a referendum to decide whether to commit crimes against former Mexican presidents on the construction of a new airport near Mexico City and on the development of a tourist train line running through the Yucatán Peninsula. should be prosecuted or not.

“He envisions his power as an act of people actively reiterating their support,” said Francisco Gonzalez, a professor of Latin American politics at Johns Hopkins University. “He wants this to be officially confirmed to give him the comfort of being the popular leader who is doing the right thing for Mexico.”

Since taking office, López Obrador has also expanded social welfare programs, introducing intense austerity measures. He has halted renewable energy projects, promoted a constitutional reform take control of the country of the electricity market, and gave more power to the military – putting it in charge of projects like the tourism train.

President López Obrador delivers a speech to mark the midpoint of his term.
(Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)

His critics say he has not done enough to bring down the high level of killings, including multiple murders of women and attacks against journalists and government officials. Dozens of candidates were murdered across the country ahead of last spring’s midterm elections for governorship and legislative and mayoral seats.

Critics are also concerned about López Obrador’s attacks against democratic agencies that may scrutinize his power, most notably the National Electoral Institute. He has repeatedly condemned free agency, which last May approved it At least 29 news conferences have been asked to make statements that could be considered government propaganda that could influence mid-term elections. In Mexico, such statements by government officials are generally prohibited during the election season.

But the president’s vision of transformative change continues to resonate among many voters who see him as a paternal figure. López Obrador is in constant conversation with his voters, holding press conferences every morning that last hours.

Rene Torres-Ruiz, a political scientist at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico, said, “He has created an honest man, an honorable man, an indestructible man – which helps him in a society that is used to seeing very corrupt politicians.” is done.” Faridabad.

Obstacles to a referendum remain in place even if there are enough signatures. Members of the National Electoral Institute have stated that the agency does not have the budget to vote and that at least 40% of eligible voters must participate in the referendum. Last August’s referendum on former presidents fell far short of the 40% turnout figure.

Ariadna Gomez, left, and another volunteer collect signatures.
Ariadna Gomez, left, and another volunteer collect signatures for a referendum on whether Mexico’s president should continue.
(Leila / Miller)

Stephanie Brewer, director of Mexico and Migrant Rights at the Washington Office in Latin America, DC, said winning a referendum would give López Obrador the impression that he can move freely with his agenda.

“What he wants is to come out of the vote, assuming there is one, who is politically strong with this new and expanded popular mandate,” she said.

Opposition parties have accused supporters of the president of turning the stated purpose of the referendum into a tool to promote López Obrador’s agenda. The 2019 reform called for a referendum to “repeale” a presidential mandate rather than “approve” it, and referred to a complaint by the National Action Party to the National Electoral Institute about how volunteers posed next to posters. Registered voters who advertise referendums as a tool. Promote the President instead of removing him from office.

Luis Chazzaro, a congressman for the Party of the Democratic Revolution, told The Times that the referendum “has turned into a propaganda tool for the party.” He is not planning to participate.

In Coyoacán, Mexico City, which is known for being the home of Frida Kahlo, volunteers put up signs in a plaza in front of the president’s poster last Sunday that said “May AMLO continue.”

Volunteer Ariana Garcia, 24, said she uses the word “ratification” for people who feel like the president and “repudiation” for those she feels oppose her.

“People tell you, ‘But I don’t want my president to leave,’ so we tell them, ‘Okay, so in this case you can reaffirm your support for the president,'” she said.

A supporter of Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador listens to his speech in Mexico City.
A supporter of López Obrador listens to his speech at a rally commemorating the president’s midterm.
(Marco Ugarte/The Associated Press)

Roberto García, a systems engineer in Mexico City, said he would vote against the president, uneasy that the federal government recently issued a decree that requires federal agencies to automatically approve infrastructure projects. Those considered to be of interest to public or national security. , He also sees the referendum as “a form of manipulation”, doubting why the president has contradicted the National Electoral Institute, saying he has enough money to hold votes for which he himself The battle has been fought.

María de Los Angeles Resández, a grandmother of 10 from Mexico State, will support López Obrador without hesitation.

Resendiz, 62, watches the president’s news conference every day at 7 a.m. with her husband while preparing breakfast and washing the dishes. If she has to drop one, she’ll track it down on YouTube later. She also listens to the summary in case something is missing.

Before López Obrador came to power, Resendez tried to stay away from politics as much as possible. She was disillusioned when she was a little girl after the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre, in which soldiers killed more than 300 people at a student protest in Mexico City.

She called López Obrador an “ordinary” person who has won her trust with her anti-corruption platform. He eagerly described how his government had set aside money for on-the-job training of youth and expanded welfare payments to the elderly.

“He has given us our dignity back,” she said. “I am proud to say that I am Mexican and he is my President.”



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