US Denies Interference in Mexico's Internal Affairs
The US government explains that its comments on the recently approved electoral reform in Mexico were misinterpreted and assured that it sees the country as an equal partner that makes its own sovereign decisions.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price explained that he never sought to meddle in Mexico's national affairs, but that it is his work to respond to questions from the press about different events around the world. "When we talk about Mexico, we do so as we do when we are asked similar questions about other countries. We talk about the values and principles that are important to democracies. Mexico has a vibrant democracy and we have seen that over the past few days. We made those comments in that spirit," Price said.
"There is more democracy in Mexico than in the US. Instead of meddling in our affairs, they should worry about their problems,” said López Obrador regarding the US State Department’s comments. No further remarks were made following Price's statement.
What Happened With the Electoral Reform?
On Feb. 22, 2023, the Senate approved the reform with 72 votes in favor and 50 against. López Obrador emphasized that although he expects the bill will be challenged in the Supreme Court, it will survive the process since the laws were issued by the book.
According to the new law, the budget of the National Electoral Institute (INE) will be cut, as well as the salaries of its workers, the financing of local electoral offices and the training of polling station officials. Plan B also eliminates INE’s budgetary autonomy, lays off 84.6% of the personnel of the National Electoral Service (SPEN) and reduces sanctions for candidates who do not declare their campaign expenses.
López Obrador and his supporters have criticized INE since 2006 when he narrowly lost the presidency to Felipe Calderón by 0.56 percent of the vote. He denounced the elections as fraudulent but the victory was still granted to Calderón. In addition, during his administration, López Obrador has said INE has cost taxpayers enormous amounts of money, has not managed resources well, pays very high salaries and has not been able to root out in its own ranks.
Before the Senate's vote, Mexicans living in more than 100 cities in seven different countries were called upon to protest against the President's Plan B. The Secretary of the Interior, Martí Batres, said that only 12,000 people protested. However, the opposition claims that there were more than half a million people. The first protest was on Nov. 13, 2022, when thousands gathered in cities across the country and Mexican embassies around the world to defend Mexico’s democratic institution. López Obrador said between 50,000 and 60,000 people joined the protest. Nonetheless, organizers estimate the number to be higher than 200,000; Reuters’ eyewitnesses thought the number to be higher than the government estimate, too.