Mexico’s main opposition party has accused the ruling party of generating hate and violence by characterizing lawmakers who voted against President López Obrador’s proposed electricity reform on Sunday as “traitors to the country.”
A constitutional bill that would have overhauled the electricity market to favor the state-owned Federal Electricity Commission failed to attract the two-thirds support it needed to pass the lower house of Congress.
López Obrador, who founded the ruling Morena party, claimed Monday that opposition lawmakers committed “an act of treason” in not supporting the bill because they defended the interests of unscrupulous foreign companies rather than those of the Mexican people and the nation.
Morena national president Mario Delgado announced a national information campaign to expose the faces and names of the deputies who voted against the electricity reform, whom he described as “traitors to the nation.”
Morena’s leader in the lower house, Ignacio Mier, and Chamber of Deputies president Sergio Gutiérrez Luna, another ruling party deputy, took posters into the Congress on Tuesday that featured photographs of opposition party parliamentary leaders and the phrases “Traitor to the country” and “History will judge you.”
National Action Party (PAN) president Marko Cortés said in a radio interview interview that Morena’s campaign against opposition lawmakers was “absolutely reprehensible.”
He said the PAN – which occupies the second highest number of seats in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate – would blame López Obrador and Morena for any physical attack on its lawmakers.
“The campaign of hate and violence they’re generating is dangerous and irresponsible,” Cortés told Radio Fórmula.
“Although the president lives in a palace, Mexico is not a monarchy. Mexico is and will continue to be a democracy in which there is the right to not agree,” he said.
“More aggression cannot be accepted, especially from those who govern the country and have the responsibility of generating harmony, not discord,” Cortés said.
Alejandro Moreno, a federal deputy and national president of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the second largest opposition party in terms of representation in Congress, warned Delgado and the Morena party more broadly that the attacks on PRI legislators that voted against the electricity bill will not intimidate them.
“You see the country as your playground, we see it as the home of millions of families who want a better Mexico. We will defend it above all else … and that will be the case every time you try to put it at risk,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Our proud vote against [the electricity bill] was born out of the demand of citizens. Your shameful vote was born from the impulse of a single man. Read very well: the threats and attacks won’t be enough to destroy the strength of millions of Mexicans who love Mexico.”
PAN Senator Lily Téllez, who defected from Morena in 2020, took a more direct approach to condemning the ruling party’s “campaign of hate,” using her speaking time in the Senate to take aim at Senator Citlalli Hernández, who threatened to “exhibit” dissident lawmakers in city squares.
“I ask you, Senator Citlalli Hernández, how will you take responsibility for the [potential] aggressive actions against lawmakers that you have … [denounced]? … What actions will you take to stop the campaign of hate that you have started against all the lawmakers who have voted against the wishes of López Obrador?” Téllez questioned.
“You don’t have the right to stigmatize them. How will you take responsibility for the hate you have sown? … Answer and take responsibility,” the senator demanded.
Hernández, who is also Morena’s secretary-general, rejected the accusations and asserted that those who have in fact sown hate are politicians who represent the “classist, racist opposition, which has lowered the level of debate in this country.”
She reiterated her claim that lawmakers who opposed the electricity bill are traitors and claimed that citizens agree with that view because they have expressed it at Morena information meetings.
“The issue is that you don’t leave the bubble,” Hernández told opposition senators. “You live in self-deception, you live with funded bots that only speak on social media. You don’t know what people think – go out and ask them what they think about [opposition lawmakers] having voted against this energy reform. Go out and ask them if they’re traitors to the country,” Hernández said.
López Obrador has good reason to believe he has the support of the majority of Mexicans given that opinion polls regularly show he has an approval rating of over 60% and more than 90% of voters supported him at this month’s recall referendum.
However, there is little doubt that his governance of the country and his rhetoric – including calling opposition lawmakers traitors and his frequent attacks on the media – have exacerbated, if not created, political division.
Carmen Aristegui, a prominent journalist and a victim of the president’s attacks, asserted in February that López Obrador deliberately uses his weekday press conferences to cause division.
“What the president of the republic is doing … with his strength, his power, his mandate, the resources of all of us … is engaging in confrontational discourse that seeks to, and manages to, divide and inflame,” she said