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Thousands rail against Mexico’s president and ruling party in ‘march for democracy’

Thousands rail against Mexico’s president and ruling party in ‘march for democracy’

Baku, February 19, AZERTAC

Thousands of demonstrators cloaked in pink walked through cities in Mexico and abroad Sunday in what they called a “march for democracy” targeting the country’s ruling party before June 2 elections, AP reported.

The demonstrations called by Mexico’s opposition parties advocated for free and fair elections in the Latin American nation and railed against corruption just days after presidential front-runner Claudia Sheinbaum officially announced her candidacy under the country’s ruling party, Morena.

Sheinbaum is largely seen as a continuation candidate of Mexico’s highly popular leader Andrés Manuel López Obrador. He’s adored by many voters who say he bucked the country’s elite parties from power in 2018 and represents the working class.

But the 70-year-old populist president has also been accused of making moves that endanger the country’s democracy. Last year, he slashed funding for the National Electoral Institute and weakened oversight of campaign spending, something the institute’s leader said could “wind up poisoning democracy itself.” The agency’s color, pink, has been used as a symbol by demonstrators.

López Obrador has also attacked journalists in hours-long press briefings, has frequently attacked Mexico’s judiciary and claimed judges are part of a conservative conspiracy against his administration.

In Mexico City on Sunday, thousands of people flocked to the city’s main plaza roaring, “Get López out!” Others carried signs reading, “The power of the people is greater than the people in power.”

Gabriel Ozuna, 61, was among them. She said she and her family came from Baja California state, and were participating in the march to push for a variety of candidates to have a chance. She said she had protested in previous pro-democracy marches as well.

Ozuna said she was also protesting attacks and slayings of candidates by drug cartels, especially prominent in local elections.

“We know our democracy is in danger. What we want to do is defend it and keep defending it,” Ozuna said, adding it was important “for citizens to participate, not just be a part of a political party.”

Among the opposition organizations marching were National Civic Front, Yes for Mexico, Citizen Power, Civil Society Mexico, UNE Mexico and United for Mexico.

“Democracy doesn’t solve lack of water, it doesn’t solve hunger, it doesn’t solve a lot of things. But without democracy you can’t solve anything,” said Enrique de la Madrid Cordero, a prominent politician from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, in a video posted to social media calling for people to join the protests.

The PRI held uninterrupted power in Mexico for more than 70 years.

Marches were organized in a hundred cities across the country, and in other cities in the United States and Spain.

Still, López Obrador. remains highly popular and his ally Sheinbaum appears set to coast easily into the presidency. She overwhelmingly leads in polls over her closest competition, Xóchitl Gálvez.

López Obrador railed against the protests during his Friday morning news briefings, questioning whether the organizers cared about democracy.

“They are calling the demonstration to defend corruption, they are looking for the return of the corrupt, although they say they care about democracy,” he said.

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