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Mexicans turn out in droves to protest electoral overhaul as they see democracy at risk

US Assistant Secretary of State Brian Nichols slammed the protests late Sunday, saying on Twitter that the electoral reforms were “testing the independence of electoral and judicial institutions.”

“The United States supports independent, well-resourced electoral institutions that strengthen democratic processes and the rule of law,” he added.

According to many political analysts, the INE and its predecessor were instrumental in creating a pluralistic democracy that ended decades of one-party rule in 2000.

Fernando Belunjaran, an opposition politician who helped organize the protests, argued that the INE changes undermined the electoral system and increased the risk of disputes in the 2024 elections when López Obrador’s successor will be chosen.

“Usually presidents seek governance and stability for their succession, but the president is creating uncertainty,” Belunjaran said. “He’s playing with fire.”

The Mexican president can only serve a single term of six years.

Belanzaran said on Twitter that more than 500,000 people had gathered in the capital on Sunday to protest the INE overhaul. He said that demonstrations are taking place in more than 100 cities.

Protests took place in states including Jalisco, Yucatán, Nuevo León, Querétaro, Guanajuato and Veracruz, according to news reports and footage circulating on social media.

The newspaper Excelsior cited local officials as saying that at least 22,000 people gathered in Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo León. News network Milenio reported that another 20,000 people took to the streets in the heart of Jalisco’s capital, Guadalajara.

Angel Garcia, a 50-year-old protester from Mexico City, said the demonstration was also an appeal to the Supreme Court to declare the INE overhaul a violation of the constitution.

Garcia, a lawyer, argued that if Mexico did not protect the INE, its democracy would be sent “back to the past”.

“It’s now or never,” he said.

López Obrador, a leftist who claims he was twice denied the presidency before a landslide victory in the 2018 election, argues the INE is too expensive and biased in favor of his opponents. The institute denies this.

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

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

López Obrador, whose approval rating is still 60% or more in opinion polls, has also undermined other autonomous bodies that scrutinize his power on the grounds that they are a drain on the public purse and against his political project. hostile towards.

He says his INE shake-up will save $150 million annually.

Polls show the president’s National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), which has become the dominant force in Mexico in just a few years, is a strong favorite to win the 2024 election.

Antonio Mondragón, a retired Mexico City dentist who voted for López Obrador in 2018, said people were tired of the president behaving like a “dictator”.

“We need to go back to being a democracy,” said Mondragón, 83, “because the man is going crazy.”



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