500,000 Mexicans Protest Socialist President Gutting Election Integrity Agency

Anti-government demonstrators shout slogans against Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez
AP Photo/Fernando Llano

Approximately 500,000 Mexicans gathered at Mexico City’s Zócalo Square on Sunday to peacefully protest the “Plan B” electoral reform law spearheaded by far-left Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador that would severely reduce the power and reach of the country’s independent election oversight committee, the National Electoral Institute (INE).

The INE is considered one of the most effective bodies of its kind in executing elections and protecting the integrity of the vote. The INE ensures campaigns follow election rules, issues identification cards for voters, and ensures that elections are held freely and fairly.

Opposition parties and civil organizations rallied the protesters to convene outside the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN), requesting that the nation’s top court suspends the implementation of the upcoming reforms and declare them unconstitutional over the possible implications they will have on Mexican democracy.

During the event, the protesters shouted several chants, including “mi voto no se toca” (“my vote will not be touched”), “El INE no se toca” (“you don’t touch the INE”), and “Fuera López” (“out with López”). The organizers also made calls to hold rallies in other Mexican cities and outside Mexican Consulates in the United States, France, Portugal, Costa Rica, Spain, and the Czech Republic.

The controversial electoral reforms that prompted the peaceful protest were passed by the Mexican Senate last week and are currently in the process of being signed into law by López Obrador, who spearheaded the proposal. The reforms involve sweeping changes to the nation’s independent electoral oversight committee, stripping it of essential powers, diminishing its ability to sanction those who fail to comply with electoral regulations, and severely reducing its budget, which will force the institution to cut 85 percent of its electoral workforce and shut down regional offices across Mexico.

The changes in Mexico’s electoral system will immediately affect the June local elections in Coahuila and the State of Mexico, as well as the 2024 presidential election. Mexico’s constitution states that a president may only serve a single six-year term and cannot be re-elected for an additional term, even if nonconsecutive.

López Obrador has attacked the nation’s Electoral Institute numerous times in the past, accusing it of endorsing voter fraud against him during the 2006 and 2012 presidential elections. Despite having lost those presidential elections, López Obrador declared himself the “legitimate president” of Mexico in 2006.

The far-left president ran for a third time in 2018, winning the election with 54.71 percent of the vote and choosing not to contest the results of the election once the National Electoral Institute declared him the winner.

While the protest’s organizers and Mexican opposition members claim that roughly half a million Mexicans participated in the peaceful protest, Mexico City’s Secretariat of Security and Civilian Protection downplayed the event, claiming that only 90,000 attendees participated in it.

José Ramón Cossío, who served as Justice in Mexico’s top court between 2003 and 2018 expressed, during the peaceful protest that he hopes that the Mexican Supreme Court declares the “Plan B” reforms unconstitutional as they would diminish the political rights of Mexican citizens.

“I am confident that they will prove that the president’s expressions of his collaborators are not true,” the former Justice said. “I am sure that the ministers will consider that the irregularities of the legislative processes have a serious invalidating potential.”

During a press conference held on Monday morning, President López Obrador also downplayed the protest, claiming that “at maximum” there were only 100,000 attendees. The far-left president claimed that those who participated in the protest did so to defend “privileges” and the “narco-state.”

“So when they say ‘Do not touch the INE’ what you have to be thinking is ‘do not touch corruption.’ Corruption is not touched, according to them. Privileges are not touched, the narco-state is not touched,” López Obrador said

Last week, López Obrador had preemptively accused would-be protesters of being “in favor of corruption.”

“It is important that people know what they are coming for because they have every right. If they are convinced that the corruption regime was right, let them come, it is their right, it is a kind of masochism,” he proclaimed during a press conference.

Mario Delgado, head of the ruling National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), heavily criticized Sunday’s protest and its participants through an official party statement in which the ruling party founded by López Obrador claimed that “those calling the march come out to defend their privileges with lies,” while asserting that the protest’s organizers wish to return to a “corrupt past where they could commit electoral fraud.”

“This movement, this protest has the Plan B of the Electoral Reform as a screen, but the truth is that it is not a citizens’ march, it is a demonstration of the right wing against the transformation that is taking place at a national level, in 22 states and in countless municipalities,” Delgado said.

“That is the background, the rest is just an excuse. They shout ‘INE is not to be touched’ but in reality they think ‘[former Public Security Secretary Genaro] García Luna and [former President] Felipe Calderón are not to be touched,’ ‘corruption is not to be touched’, ‘the most influential is not to be touched’,” he asserted.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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