Mexico holds referendum on whether to investigate ex-presidents

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Mexico holds referendum on whether to investigate ex-presidents


Mexicans began voting in a referendum hosted by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on whether to investigate former presidents for alleged corruption, but experts criticized the vote as a political coup.
Lopez Obrador, widely known as AMLO, has called past administrations deeply corrupt and made tackling the practice his top priority.

But critics have said the Mexican president hopes to use the consultation to energize his base and is unlikely to muster enough votes to be valid. To be binding, 37.4 million people – 40% of the electoral list – must participate.

Polling stations opened at 8:00 a.m. local time (13:00 GMT) on Sunday and were due to close at 6:00 p.m. (23:00 GMT), with the result due in two or three days.

While the “yes” could win up to 90 percent, it will be difficult to achieve even a 30 percent turnout, said Roy Campos, director of polling firm Mitofsky.

“The consultation has become ideological,” Campos told Reuters news agency. “The supporters of the president are those who want to go and vote, and vote yes. “

Critics say the vote is a political coup that will demonstrate President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s ability to mobilize his supporters [File: Edgard Garrido/Reuters]

This was echoed by Jose Antonio Crespo, a political analyst at the Mexican Center for Economic Research and Training, who called the referendum “strictly a political and media exercise” and noted that the outcome of the ballot was beyond doubt.

“The question is not whether the ‘yes’ option will win, we know 90 percent or more will vote yes,” Crespo said.

“The question is, how many people will be going to vote? Many of us don’t want to be used in manipulation. It will be an indicator of how many people still support Lopez Obrador, of his ability to mobilize people. “

According to a recent poll by El Financiero newspaper, 77% of those polled said they would support the proposal to investigate the former leaders, but only 31% of people said they would vote.

Rosario Gomez was among those planning to vote in one of the 57,000 ballot boxes set up by the electoral institute, against more than 160,000 for the legislative and local elections in June.

“It’s time for those thieves to pay!” said the 52-year-old market seller.

Lopez Obrador blamed former leaders Carlos Salinas, Ernesto Zedillo, Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderon and Enrique Pena Nieto, whose administrations spanned from 1988 to 2018, for compounding many of Mexico’s woes, from poverty to poverty. insecurity.

“The people want participatory democracy, not just representative democracy,” he said last week. “You must have confidence in the people, you must have confidence in the people and in their free choice, not to be afraid of the people. “

An advertisement showing an image of former Mexican President Carlos Salinas calls on citizens to participate in the referendum [Christian Palma/AP Photo]

The president originally wanted the referendum to ask voters if they wanted ex-presidents to be prosecuted, but the Supreme Court ordered more flexible wording to protect due process and the presumption of innocence.

The question reads as follows: “Do you agree or not that the relevant actions be taken, in accordance with the constitutional and legal framework, to undertake a process of clarification of political decisions taken in recent years by political actors?” , aimed at guaranteeing justice and the rights of potential victims?

Lopez Obrador’s administration did not detail what this process would involve.

The statute of limitations has expired on some charges the ex-presidents could face, and the referendum could lead to the creation of a truth commission rather than legal action, Campos said.

But former presidents can be tried like any other citizen, and critics argue the referendum is unnecessary. “To wait for the results of a consultation is to turn justice into a political circus,” said Jose Miguel Vivanco, director of Human Rights Watch for the Americas.

Other opponents said in a slogan: “The law must be enforced, not put to a vote. “

Fox, who served as president from 2000 to 2006 and outspoken critic of Lopez Obrador, urged Mexicans to stay at home. “Let’s not indulge in this farce,” he wrote on Twitter.

Mexico is ranked 124th out of 179 in Transparency International’s Global Corruption Perceptions Index.



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