Mexican president holds massive rally ahead of 2024 election
MEXICO — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador held a massive rally in Mexico City’s main square on Saturday, attended by tens of thousands of people.
Although it was called to commemorate Mexico’s expropriation of the oil industry in 1938, many at Saturday’s rally agreed that it was the de facto opening salvo of the 2024 election that would choose the successor to the president.
This may be one of the last rallies led by López Obrador, known for his folk style and charisma. The process of nominating a presidential candidate for his Morena party will begin later this year. After that, the party candidate should take center stage.
But most agree that few presidential candidates can match the popularity of a president whose approval ratings regularly exceed 60%. This is especially true for the Morena party, which was largely built around López Obrador.
Alberto Martínez, 59, said he hoped Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum would be the party’s candidate. “We like his education, his caution,” Martinez said. But he would settle for whoever chose Morena.
Most polls show Sheinbaum as the frontrunner in the race, followed by Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard.
“The important thing is that López Obrador’s ideology continues,” Martínez said. “This train is already moving, someone just to come on board and drive it.”
Former President Lázaro Cárdenas, one of López Obrador’s heroes, delighted Mexicans when he expropriated the private, largely foreign-owned oil industry on March 18, 1938.
One of López Obrador’s main political initiatives was to save the state oil company that Cárdenas founded from crippling debt and low oil production.
Attendees at the Zocalo rally wholeheartedly endorsed López Obrador, who took a nationalist stance, dramatically curtailing the ability of U.S. counternarcotics officers to operate in Mexico.
Blas Ramos, 69, an electrical engineer, held up a sign that read “Get out of Mexico, FBI, CIA, Gringos!”
He said the president was right to oppose U.S. calls to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations or to use the U.S. military to crack down on gangs.
“They are hypocrites,” he said of American politicians calling for such measures, “because they are doing nothing to reduce drug use” in the United States. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, which kills about 70,000 Americans a year, is mostly made in Mexico with precursor chemicals smuggled in from China.
López Obrador claimed that Mexico does not produce fentanyl – which most experts disagree with – and that the United States has a fentanyl problem because American families do not kiss their children enough .
Ramos was convinced that the president’s movement, which he calls “the fourth transformation of Mexico”, would not stop when he left office in September 2024.
“It’s a movement that started a long time ago,” he said. “We’ve spent our whole lives waiting for this move.”
“This movement hasn’t ended for six years,” Ramos said, referring to the length of presidential terms in Mexico. “It’s a process that will take 30, 40 years.”