Mexicans from across the country made their way to Mexico City’s central square on Saturday for a rally marking the fifth anniversary of President López Obrador’s emphatic 2018 election victory.
“It’s a badge of pride to be able to say … from the main square of the republic that our movement is stronger than ever,” López Obrador — who won 53% of the vote at the 2018 presidential election — declared at the beginning of an hour-long address in the Zócalo, where over 250,000 people were in attendance, according to Mexico City Mayor Martí Batres.
With his wife, cabinet ministers and Morena party governors seated behind him, AMLO listed numerous government achievements during his 4 1/2 years in office, including the delivery of welfare and social programs, the increase to the minimum wage, post-pandemic economic growth, the saving of public money through “republican austerity,” the construction of infrastructure projects, the “rescue” of state-owned energy companies, the rollout of a new universal health care scheme and the establishment of the National Guard.
“What has been the key to achieving all these results?” López Obrador asked himself after outlining some of his administration’s accomplishments. “… In brief, not allowing corruption.”
In his closing remarks, the president said it was “natural” that the “process of transformation” that he asserts his administration is carrying out had created “a conservative opposition” whose leaders don’t accept a government that “governs for everyone,” rather than a privileged minority.
He also stressed the importance of “always looking to, looking after and walking with the people” of Mexico.
“If we ask ourselves who is our best ally, what do we answer? The people. Who are we here for? The people,” López Obrador said before posing several other questions that prompted the large crowd to roar “the people” in response.
“All of us won five years ago,” two women aged in their 20s told the newspaper El País.
Previous presidents — who López Obrador blames for all manner of persistent problems in Mexico — left the country in a “very bad” state, but AMLO “is doing a great job,” agreed Fernanda Sánchez and María Guadalupe García, who attended the rally together.
They told El País that consolidating AMLO’s so-called “fourth transformation” of Mexico — as the aspirants to the ruling Morena party nomination for the 2024 presidential election intend to do — will be difficult but indicated that it’s possible with the support of “the people” — whom the president frequently claims to have on his side.
Azucena Gallardo Peña, who traveled from Chiapas to join the fifth anniversary celebrations, also expressed her satisfaction with the government led by López Obrador.
“No president focused on senior citizens, the disabled or the poor until him,” she told El País.
Benito Martínez, María Concepción and Natalia Álvarez, all of Tamaulipas, told the same newspaper that “the people” want the “regime” implemented by López Obrador to continue and pledged their support to whomever Morena chooses as its new standard bearer, as all the aspirants to the party’s presidential candidacy are “capable.”
The tamaulipecos and the six Morena presidential hopefuls were among the throngs of supporters, nicknamed AMLOvers, who flocked to the Zócalo for the Saturday afternoon rally. Many endured long distances on buses to get there, with free travel and free food apparently sweetening the deal for some.
Hundreds of attendees reportedly left the event early to ensure they didn’t miss their bus home, or because they were tired after spending hours on their feet.
The president of the National Action Party (PAN) — one of three main opposition parties preparing to field a joint candidate at next year’s presidential election — was among numerous government critics who offered an alternative assessment of the López Obrador presidency.
“López Obrador is right in saying that his government has made history. Never before had 160,000 homicides and more than 100,000 disappearances been recorded,” Marko Cortés tweeted on Sunday.
The former figure refers to the approximate number of murders recorded in Mexico since López Obrador took office on Dec. 1, 2018, while the latter refers to the total number of missing people, regardless of when they disappeared.
PAN Senator Xóchitl Gálvez — who AMLO asserted on Monday had been chosen as the presidential candidate for the Va por México opposition alliance — posted a video to social media on Saturday in which she criticized the government for failing to meet the projected completion date and cost for the construction of the new Pemex refinery on the Tabasco coast.
“Remember that incompetence is also corruption,” she said after asserting that a 200-billion-peso cost overrun (US $11.7 billion) was the cause of funding cuts for things such as treatment for children with cancer and public security.
Back at the Zócalo, the mood was buoyant despite rainfall as López Obrador concluded his 64-minute address.
“The people!” exclaimed the president’s devotees when he posed the question “who are we?”
“… Long live the fourth transformation!” AMLO cried. “Viva México! Viva México! Viva México!”