Neither the declaration of a last-minute day-without-a-car contingency by Mexico City Governor Claudia Sheinbaum — in full collaboration with the federal government — nor the vicious barrage of insults and allegations of corruption by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) against anyone who dared to defend the National Electoral Institute (INE) from being dissolved under his dictamen, could deter hundreds of thousands of Mexicans who took to the nation’s streets in more than 50 cities on Sunday, Nov. 13 (along with tens of thousands more who joined them virtually), to defend the last vestiges of democracy under his tyrannical, authoritarian rule.
Ever since he took office in December 2018, the president has tried to abolish Mexico’s most important electoral authority — along with other independent government bodies — in order to impose his my-way-or-the-highway dictatorial mandate, whittling away at the INE’s budget and claiming — with no foundations or merits — that it is a corrupt organization that only wants to undermine the unilateral imposition of his so-called Fourth Transformation (4T) for the country.
When in April of this year, enough opposition members of Congress — all duly elected as representatives of the Mexican people — “dared” to vote against his energy reform initiative to keep it from passing, López Obrador dubbed them “traitors to the nation” and threatened to throw them all in prison for defying his orders.
Now, AMLO has taken on the entire Mexican people, accusing them of being “cretins” and “unscrupulous crooks” for daring to defend the INE and the nation’s very democracy by marching peacefully in a protest against his plans to dissolve it.
AMLO’s hatred for the National Electoral Institute is no secret, mainly because it has tried — often in vane — to rein in his totalitarian political decrees and maintain some semblance of justice and democratic practices in Mexico’s quickly eroding electoral process.
Just prior to the country’s historic and all-important midterm elections in June of this year, AMLO famously — or better said, infamously — stated that he had “no confidence” in the INE, adding that the internationally acclaimed electoral body was “at the service of antidemocracy.”
AMLO has always seen democracy as an obstacle to his imposition of his vision for Mexico, where his word — and his word alone — is law, but what provoked López Obrador’s rage in June was its cancelling of the registration of 49 candidates — 43 of whom were from his leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party — for failure to submit mandated pre-campaign financial reports.
God forbid that the official electoral supervising body should expect his candidates to comply with electoral law.
A staunch defender of Mexico’s fragile transition to democratic elections, the INE has, since its creation in 1990, fortified the nation’s electoral processes and ensured open and transparent polls.
It was, ironically, the INE that helped topple the once-all-powerful Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and opened the door for the pluralist democracy that allowed López Obrador to come to power.
But now that he has tasted that power and developed an insatiable hunger for its absolute implementation, he wants to slam the portal of democracy shut and eliminate the INE, ensuring that he and his Morena cohorts will rule Mexico according to their will forever.
According to a recent survey by the government’s own National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi, yet another independent institution that AMLO wants to abolish), the INE rates among Mexicans at the most-trusted Mexican institution after the military.
The thousands of Mexicans who marched on Sunday to defend the INE are not “cretins” or “traitors to the nation;” they are the champions of Mexico’s frail democracy, and those who argue against their legal right to express their views through nonviolent protest are the real threat to Mexico’s waning constitutional and democratic future.