Thousands protest against the President of Mexico and his party in a “March for Democracy”

Thousands protest against the President of Mexico and his party in a “March for Democracy”

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Thousands of pink-clad demonstrators marched through cities in Mexico and beyond on Sunday in what they called a “march for democracy” against the country’s ruling party ahead of the June 2 election.

Opposition parties called for protests, called for free and fair elections in the Latin American country and criticized corruption. On the same day, Claudia Sheinbaum – favorite to win the presidential election in opinion polls – officially announced her candidacy for the ruling Morena party.

Sheinbaum is largely seen as the next nominee for hugely popular President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. He is beloved by many voters, who say he ousted the country's elite parties from power in 2018 and represents the working class.

But the 70-year-old president is also accused of taking steps that endanger democracy. Last year, the president reduced funding for the National Electoral Institute, which is responsible for organizing elections, and weakened oversight of campaign spending, which could harm democracy itself, according to the director of the National Electoral Institute. The demonstrators used the agency's color, pink, as a symbol.

López Obrador has also attacked journalists in his long press conferences, and has often attacked Mexico's judiciary, saying judges are part of a conservative conspiracy against his government.

In Mexico City, thousands of people wearing pink flocked on Sunday to the city's main square, known as the Zocalo, chanting “Lopez go!” Others carried banners reading, “The power of the people is greater than those with power.”

Among the opposition organizations that participated in the march were the National Civic Front, Sí por México, Poder Ciudadano, Sociedad Civil México, UNE México, and Unidos por México.

“Democracy does not solve water (shortage), it does not solve hunger, it does not solve many things. Enrique de la Madrid Cordero, a prominent politician from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, said in a video posted on social networks, urging people to join the demonstration: “Nothing can be solved without democracy.”

The Institutional Revolutionary Party has maintained power in Mexico without interruption for more than 70 years.

Rallies were held in one hundred cities across the country, and in other cities in the United States and Spain.

However, the president remains very popular and his ally Sheinbaum appears to have a relatively easy path to the presidency. She leads in the polls by a whopping 64% over her closest rival, Xochitl Galvez, who appears with 31% favourability.

Lopez Obrador criticized the protests during his press conference on Friday morning and questioned whether the organizers cared about democracy.

He said: “They are calling for demonstrations to defend corruption because this is essentially what they are looking for, which is the return of the corrupt, even though they say they care about democracy.”

Aygen Marsh

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