Tens of thousands marched with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Sunday in a massive demonstration through the centre of the country’s capital to show their support for the head of state before a 2024 general election.
Supporters, many travelling by bus to the capital, came with Mexican flags, marching bands and even president-shaped stuffed toys as they filled Mexico City’s Reforma Avenue, chanting “It’s an honour to be with Obrador.”
Security helicopters flew overhead as the March headed toward the Zocalo square, where the president – who holds a near 60% approval rating – will give a speech marking his fourth year in office.
“The president is from a humble background. He’s done a lot of social programs,” said Teresa Magana, who pooled money with a group of 40 to travel 12 hours from Tabasco, the president’s home state. “We want him to continue.”
Mexican presidents are limited to a single six-year term. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, who were at the march, are likely party candidates to run for the next election, scheduled for the summer of 2024.
The march comes a fortnight after critics of the president’s plan to reform the country’s electoral system came to the streets in tens of thousands, the largest demonstration against his policies so far.
Earlier this month, Congress started discussing the plan. Lopez Obrador, known by his initials as AMLO, says his proposal would improve democracy, limit economic influence in politics and cut advertising time, but his opponents fear the change could presage a power grab.
The plan would reduce the budget of the country’s IN Electoral commission and change the way councillors are elected.
“AMLO criticizes the salaries of INEcouncillors,” wrote columnist Sergio Negrete on Twitter. “With the cost of his ego-boosting march, he could pay the salaries of 11 INEcouncillors for 43 years and three months.