The former mayor of Mexico City has burst back on to the political scene after a three-year self-imposed exile in France.
Marcelo Ebrard will head the campaign team of his former boss and three-time presidential aspirant Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO, in eight states in northern and western Mexico.
López Obrador announced the ex-mayor’s appointment to the Morena party team at an event in a Mexico City hotel yesterday, where Ebrard was mobbed by enthusiastic supporters.
“Marcelo! Marcelo! Welcome Marcelo!” they shouted as he entered the reception room. Before taking to the stage, he stopped to shake hands and pose for photos with the adoring masses.
“I’m very happy to be in Mexico City,” Ebrard told attendees.
“I’ve always defended all of my actions in government, I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of, that’s why I’m here . . .” he declared.
López Obrador said the main task for Ebrard and four other electoral coordinators will be to defend citizens’ rights to a free and fair vote in the July 1 election.
Ebrard will lead the Morena campaign in the nation’s number one electoral district, which encompasses the states of Jalisco, Nayarit, Sinaloa, Sonora, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Chihuahua and Durango.
Residents of the region are considered among the least likely in the country to vote for López Obrador.
“We’ve strengthened the campaign team to organize booth by booth and avoid electoral fraud,” the Morena leader wrote on Twitter shortly after yesterday’s event.
Ebrard was in office in the capital from 2006 to 2012 but he left Mexico in 2015, the same year the federal government opened an investigation into irregularities in the construction of line 12 of the Mexico City Metro.
The so-called Golden Line was built during Ebrard’s administration but was partially closed just months after it opened in 2014 due to infrastructure defects. It also overran its budget by 7 billion pesos, or 60% of its initial projected cost.
In a television interview last night, Ebrard said that there isn’t and never has been any case against him in relation to the subway line.
“I’m clean, if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be here,” he said. He also denied that the Metro investigation was the reason he left the country.
The ex-mayor added that he was “very happy” to join López Obrador’s team.
Ebrard also assured the crowd yesterday that he wasn’t seeking a seat in Congress in order to obtain legal immunity known as the fuero, although in the subsequent Televisa interview he said he would “love to have political representation and a public position.”
However, he added that he hadn’t asked for any position nor had López Obrador offered or suggested any role to him after the election should he win.
Prior to serving as mayor for the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), Ebrard held the positions of secretary of public security and secretary of social development during López Obrador’s term as Mexico City mayor from 2000 to 2005.
He also made an attempt to become the PRD candidate in the 2012 presidential election but ultimately lost out to López Obrador.
Two political communications experts told Forbes that the inclusion of Ebrard to the Morena team will translate into more votes for López Obrador and add valuable political experience to his campaign.