Thousands of Mexicans packed into the capital’s central square Sunday to celebrate President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s first year in office, while thousands more marched down the city’s main avenue to protest violence and other ills in the country
Thousands of Mexicans packed into the capital’s central square Sunday to celebrate President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s first year in office, while thousands more marched down the city’s main avenue to protest violence and other ills in the country.
The mood in the Zocalo was festive, with an orchestra from the president’s home state of Tabasco playing tropical music inspired by Cuban sounds while scantily clad women danced next to them. Revelers donned masks bearing López Obrador’s likeness in what supporters have dubbed AMLOFest, a play on the president’s initials.
Polls show that more than half of Mexicans support the way López Obrador is running the country, despite rising homicide rates and a floundering economy that’s flirting with recession.
In a speech, the president tallied his achievements so far, such as the rollout of new social programs aimed mostly at helping the young, elderly and indigenous. The World Bank estimates that one of three Mexicans lives in poverty.
“There still hasn’t been economic growth like we want,” he conceded, “but I insist there’s a better distribution of wealth.”
On the Paseo de la Reforma boulevard, meanwhile, protesters dressed in white expressed anger and frustration over increasingly appalling incidents of violence, a stagnant economy and deepening political divisions in the country.
The November slaughter by Mexican drug cartel gunmen of three women who held U.S. citizenship and six of their children focused world attention on the rising violence.
Adrián and Julián LeBarón, who lost family members in the attack in northern Mexico, joined protesters in the capital on Sunday.
The protesters shouted cheers of support as the LeBaróns passed the Angel to Independence monument, chanting: “LeBarón, LeBarón,” followed by, “You’re not alone.”
Julián LeBarón told reporters that the Mexican president needs the help of the people to overcome organized crime.
“We have to work together to find a way to stop the violence,” he said. “If we’re not capable of defending life in our country, we will never be a civilized country much less a free country.”
President Donald Trump said last week that he plans to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations, raising concerns in Mexico that the country’s northern neighbor will launch operations in Mexican territory.
López Obrador thanked Trump on Sunday for respecting Mexico’s sovereignty after shootings such as the attack that killed members of the LeBarón family, and promised to deliver justice while emphasizing that Mexico will not accept “any intervention” by U.S. authorities. The Mexican government said Sunday that it has made several arrests related to the attack on the LeBarón family.