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Mexico's popular president reaches out to his base

Mexico's popular president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador rallied more than 100,000 supporters Saturday in Mexico City, attacking the country's right
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador criticized the opposition at a rally marking the 85th anniversary of Mexico's nationalization of the oil industry
AFP | RODRIGO ARANGUA

Mexico's popular president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador rallied more than 100,000 supporters Saturday in Mexico City, attacking the country's right, its "oligarchs" and the United States, just over a year before elections to choose his successor.

The rally marked the 85th anniversary of the nationalization of the oil industry, a key event in Mexican history.

Denouncing US Republican lawmakers' push to send the US military to battle Mexican drug cartels, Lopez Obrador told the crowd: "Cooperation yes, submission, no!"

"Mexico is an independent and free country and not a colony or a protectorate of the United States," he told his supporters, who gathered in the city's famous Zocalo main square.

President Lopez Obrador remains popular but must step down next year after just one term under the Mexican constitution
AFP | RODRIGO ARANGUA

Lopez Obrador also accused the opposition conservative PAN party of being born out of "criticizing the oil expropriation" that led to the industry's nationalization.

"Whatever they do, the oligarchs will not return to power," he said, defending his administration's accomplishments such as a rise in average salary and strengthening of the peso.

Despite approval ratings above 60 percent, the president must leave power at the end of a single six-year mandate, as provided by the constitution. 

Buoyed by his popularity, his Movement for National Regeneration (Morena) is widely favored to stay in power. 

Still unclear is who will stand for Morena in 2024. Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum and Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard are the favorites.

Lopez Obrador's Movement for National Regeneration is widely favored to stay in power but it is unclear who will be its candidate in 2024
AFP | RODRIGO ARANGUA

Lopez Obrador said he was "convinced" that the party's nominee would "apply the same policies in favor of the people and in favor of the nation."

Saturday's rally comes three weeks after an opposition demonstration against his electoral reform approved by Congress.

The reform threatens the National Electoral Institute (INE), which organizes elections, opposition and some civil society leaders say. They have announced appeals to the Supreme Court.

The United States voiced concern about the impact of the reform on the independence of powers in Mexico. Lopez Obrador has slammed the remarks as meddling. 

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