“Effective suffrage, effective democracy and no re-election,” he said in a speech after the march in which he repeated his slogans of favoring the poor and fighting the oligarchy.
The opposition insisted that many participants were coerced into joining the march, but López Obrador said he had not invested “a penny” of the federal budget in the march. Protesters interviewed said they came voluntarily.
But in many cases, transport was provided by local governments or politicians who wanted to be well regarded within the ruling party.
Gaby Contreras, a former mayor of Morena, brought a group from Teoloyucan, north of the capital, and was the only one of her group authorized to speak. “We are here to support the president.
Pedro Sánchez, a mason who came with his wife from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico, said his municipality organized everything. Hundreds of buses that had brought participants lined the surrounding streets.
“I came from Sonora by plane and paid for my ticket,” said América Verdugo, a lawyer and supporter of López Obrador.
Nelly Muñoz, administrator of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said “it’s called ‘organization’ and believe it or not, that’s what we’ve been doing since 2006.”
This date referred to the year in which López Obrador secured 0.56% of the vote to win the presidency and denounced his loss as fraudulent. Many supported him, launching a mass protest movement.
López Obrador was elected president 12 years later and his Morena party won four of six gubernatorial races in last year’s midterm elections, giving the ruling party control of 22 of 32 States of Mexico, an important advantage in the run-up to the 2024 presidential elections.
But the government has been criticized for its increased use of the military, laws whose constitutionality has been challenged in court, and its backing of controversial mega-projects. Some people who support the president are now his critics.
Clara Jusidman, founder of INCIDE Social, an NGO specializing in democracy, development and human rights, said what is important is not the number of participants in the march, but “why they have participated”.
She said many Mexicans feel compelled to participate because they receive cash transfers from the government, which is its main way of supporting those in need. Others want to be in the party’s good graces ahead of local, state and presidential elections in 2024. The main contenders to replace López Obrador as Morena’s presidential candidate in 2024 appeared in the march.
But there was no shortage of fans of the Mexican president, who retains a high approval rating.
Alberto Cervantes, who traveled from Los Angeles to join the march, got a tattoo of the president’s face and “AMLO 4T” on his arm. AMLO is the popular acronym for López Obrador’s name, and 4T refers to the “4th Transformation”, which López Obrador says is leading in Mexico.
Mexico’s opposition had called for a mass march because it feared López Obrador was planning to use his reform proposals to undermine the independence of the electoral institute and make it more beholden to his party.
López Obrador repeatedly criticized the march and a few days later said he would organize his own march.
“You can’t make a change overnight and Andrés Manuel is not infallible,” Pedroche said. “But we’ve worked hard and what we don’t want is for that to reverse.”