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Starting at about 11 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13, and heading from Mexico City’s Angel of Independence Monument to the Monument to the Revolution, tens of thousands of people marched in defense of democracy and the National Electoral Institution (INE) despite an environmental contingency imposed by the pro-President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) capital governor, Claudia Sheinbaum.

Since late Saturday, Nov. 12, when the environmental measure was ordered, march organizers had accused both Sheinbaum and López Obrador of using the extended day-without-a-car contingency as a means to try to stymie the demonstration.

But according to those who attended — the exact numbers are still not in, but some estimates put citizen participation was over 250,000, and some even claim that more than 500,000 people attended — the government’s efforts to suppress the march only served to invigorate it even more.

With placards declaring “Hands off the INE” and “Obrador, Obrador, you already look like a dictator,” the peaceful marchers of all stripes spread out across the capital’s Paseo de la Reforma Avenue, warning that the nation’s fragile democracy is at risk with the president’s hellbent plan to eliminate the country’s leading electoral authority.

At the end of the march, in which a broad range of civil and political organizations participated, former President of the Federal Electoral Institute (which evolved into the INE) José Woldenberg said that the massive turnout for the protest showed “a common heritage among all Mexicans, including citizens of very different political orientations and social backgrounds, party members, members of social organizations and people without political affiliation who want Mexico to be the home that shelters us all.”

Also participating in the marches were legislators and representatives of Mexico’s three leading opposition parties — the conservative National Action Party (PAN), the centralist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the left-leaning Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), on whom the future of the electoral reform will fall when AMLO’s controversial proposal to abolish the INE is brought before Congress in early December.

Similar “Marches for Democracy” were held in over 50 Mexican cities across the nation, including in Guadalajara, Monterrey, Cancun and Durango and Monterrey.

Last week, López Obrador said that anyone who participated in the march against his initiative to dissolve the INE and allow him and his party members to “oversee” the nation’s elections were “corrupt cretins.”

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