By KELIN DILLON
After hundreds of thousands of people marched the streets of Mexico City on Sunday, Nov. 13, in protest of constitutional reforms proposed by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) to Mexico’s autonomous electoral organization, the National Electoral Institute (INE), the impact of the massive citizen turnout has reverberated throughout the country and across the world – though not without pushback from López Obrador and his administration.
On the following morning of Monday, Nov. 14, AMLO took to his daily press conference to dispute the number of people who showed up to the protest in the Mexican capital. While many press outlets have estimated the turnout to be between 250,000 and 500,000 people, López Obrador refuted these claims, instead alleging there were only 60,000 protestors at the march – despite photographic evidence categorically proving otherwise. Meanwhile, Mexico City Secretary of Government Martí Batres placed the number of attendees at a laughably conservative estimate of 10,000 to 12,000.
Instead, López Obrador used his press conference as an opportunity to weaponize his public platform against Mexican citizens who exercised their right to protest, releasing a slideshow of high-profile businessmen and politicians who attended the march with accompanying photographs while simultaneously lambasting “so-called democrats” who did not show up to the protest.
“It was a kind of political striptease of conservatism in Mexico,” said AMLO at the time, once again minimizing the issue his very constituents showed out in massive numbers against.
“Basically, those who demonstrated yesterday did so against the transformation that is taking place in the country. They did so in favor of the privileges that they had from the government they represented. They did it in favor of corruption, racism, classism and discrimination. That is the bottom line,” continued the federal executive, conflating Mexican citizens’ desire for an impartial and democratic electoral process with unrelated social issues with his trademark hubris.
AMLO’s reaction was all but expected, especially considering his and Mexico City Governor Claudia Sheinbaum’s joint plan to minimize the protest’s turnout by declaring a supposed environmental emergency made to keep cars – and subsequently, Mexican citizens – off the streets of the capital, a scheme that evidently did not work, no matter how much they continue to attempt to downplay the march’s attendance.
So was anticipated AMLO’s deluge of insults against his own electorate, with the president hurling out words like “thieves,” “dishonest,” “racist,” “hypocritical,” “corrupt” and “classist” to characterize Sunday’s protestors – his signature approach to anyone who dares to publicly defy his will.
Though López Obrador and his administration clearly did not take kindly to the demonstration, the huge turnout seemed to move the goalposts of the potential passage of the proposed INE reform far away from AMLO’s intended result. According to centralist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) President Alejandro Moreno, whose party was previously announced it would vote in collaboration with AMLO’s National Regeneration Movement (Morena) in favor of the reform, the PRI is now set to reject the electoral reform’s passage from within Mexico’s legislative body.
“I am telling you so that there are no suspicions: It is clear, the PRI is going to vote against any reform initiative that harms autonomy, that weakens the INE or the Federal Electoral Tribunal, that is clear,” concluded Moreno.
Meanwhile, support for the cause reached far beyond the borders of Mexico City; the march in the capital was also joined by 50 more documented protests across the nation, as well as additional demonstrations held worldwide by the international community.
Though the López Obrador administration is still expected to chase after its clearly contested constitutional electoral reform, the turnout of Sunday’s march has made one thing abundantly clear: The Mexican electorate remains in staunch support of the INE and democracy in Mexico.