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Tens of thousands protest against Mexico’s president

Tens of thousands protest against Mexico’s president
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Tens of thousands protest against Mexico’s president in capital city’s main square

Tens of thousands of mostly opposition supporters protested on Sunday against Mexico’s president in the capital’s vast colonial-era main plaza ahead of the June presidential election.

The protesters in Mexico City carried signs reading “We are Mexicans”, referring to what they claim are attempts by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to divide the country.

Mexico is extremely polarised ahead of the June 2 presidential election. Lopez Obrador regularly rails against reporters, the middle class, businessmen and people he calls “individualists” and social climbers.

Opposition presidential candidate Xochitl Galvez attends a rally at Zocalo Square in Mexico City on Sunday. Photo: Reuters

The protest was originally called to defend independent electoral agencies the president wants to reduce or de-fund. But many protesters carried banners supporting opposition candidate Xochitl Galvez. Former Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum of the president’s Morena party appears to be leading the race going into the June 2 vote.

Mexican presidents are limited to a single six-year term.

Mexico City resident Joel Guerra, 59, carried a sign that read “Reclaim Mexico”.

“The president says that only his supporters are ‘the good people’ of Mexico, and the rest of us don’t have rights,” Guerra said. “We are people, too.”

Guerra was particularly concerned by a new law that Lopez Obrador has passed that seizes unclaimed personal pension accounts to hand out to other retirees.

“Unfortunately, the people governing us right now have completely divided the country,” said businesswoman Alana Leal. “There are two groups of Mexicans, and that’s not fair. It’s not fair to create so much hate, because at the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat, and we are all working for the country’s progress.”

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Photo: AP

Lopez Obrador frequently attacks anyone who disagrees with him as “racist, classist, conservative”. He also favours state-owned companies and government handout programmes and derides the accumulation of personal wealth.

The march came before the candidates are to hold their third and final debate late on Sunday. Sheinbaum has pledged to try to reconcile Mexicans if she wins, but Leal doubted she would.

“I think it will be very difficult to achieve a reconciliation between the two groups,” she said, adding “that is very regrettable.”

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