The Washington Post

President belittles protesters’ concerns


Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador lashed out Monday at demonstrat­ors who protested cuts to election funding over the weekend, belittling their concerns about threats to democracy and dashing any hopes that he would try to ease rising political tensions.

López Obrador seemed to revel in the conflict, hurling insults at the tens of thousands of people who demonstrat­ed in Mexico City’s main plaza, calling them thieves and allies of drug trafficker­s.

“There was an increase in the number of pick pockets stealing wallets here in the Zocalo, but what do you want, with so many white-collar criminals in one place?” López Obrador asked at his daily morning news briefing.

At the root of the conflict are plans by López Obrador, which were approved last week by Mexico’s Senate, to cut salaries and funding for local election offices, and scale back training for citizens who operate and oversee polling stations. The changes would also reduce sanctions for candidates who fail to report campaign spending.

Demonstrat­ors say the changes threaten democracy and could mark a return to past practices of vote manipulati­on.

López Obrador denies that the changes would be a threat and says the criticism is elitist. “They don’t care about democracy, what they want is to continue with the oligarchy, the rule of the rich,” he said Monday. He argues that the funds should be redirected to helping the poor.

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