A day after thousands of people flocked to Mexico City’s central square to demand his resignation, President López Obrador sent a blunt message to his detractors on Sunday: be patient and express your dissatisfaction at the ballot box.
AMLO, as the president is best known, stressed that his administration will always respect its opponents and that there will be no repression of protesters “because we’re not the same” as past governments.
Speaking at an event in Hermosillo, Sonora, López Obrador said “the only thing” the government wants is for protesters to be patient, noting that they will have the opportunity to express their discontent at the 2021 federal midterm elections, at which the entire lower house of Congress will be renewed, and at a vote in early 2022 at which the public will be asked if they want the president to complete his six-year term.
“The elections are coming up, we can resolve our differences [at that time]. They [our detractors] want to conserve the corrupt regime, the regime of injustices and privileges, I don’t have the slightest doubt about that. We want to change and transform [the country]. These fundamental differences that we have can be resolved democratically,” López Obrador said.
“There are going to be elections in the entire country in June next year and then I’m going to subject myself to a revocation of mandate [vote]. In the first quarter of 2022, the people of Mexico will be asked, ‘Do you want the president to continue or to resign?’ I’m a democrat and in democracy the people are in charge. The people install [their representatives] and the people remove [them],” he said.
“I accept these rules so the only thing I ask of the conservatives, who are annoyed because there is no longer corruption, … is to be patient. These two dates are coming up, … if the people so decide, we’ll have to withdraw. [But] while the people support us, we’re going to continue governing the country.”
Even though recent polls indicate that his approval rating has dropped below 60%, López Obrador claimed that surveys show that he and his government have the support of 70% of the population, adding that he didn’t believe that level of support would decline because “we’re going to continue working for the benefit of the people.”
The president’s plea for patience came after the National Anti-AMLO Front (Frenaaa) – which two weeks ago set up a protest camp in the zócalo, the capital’s main square – held its largest ever demonstration on Saturday.
Thousands of people marched from the Monument to the Revolution to the zócalo, where they joined the sit-in protesters whose tents spread across approximately half of the large square.
Gathered opposite the National Palace – the seat of executive power and López Obrador’s home – the protesters called for the president’s resignation, shouting “López out!” with their fists raised.
They enumerated a range of reasons why the president must leave office, among which were the high Covid-19 death toll (79,088 as of Sunday), the shortage of medications for children with cancer and the ongoing violence against women.
Protesters are also angry about the economic response to the pandemic and what one man described as the government’s implementation of “21st-century socialism.”
The protest march was organized on September 29 just hours after López Obrador said that he would resign if 100,000 people attended a protest against him and opinion polls showed that he had lost support.
Frenaaa claimed on social media that 160,000 people participated in Saturday’s protest but that number appeared to be a significant overestimation.
The Mexico City government said that only about 8,000 people took part while federal authorities placed the figure at about 18,000.