The shock is felt long before it arrives. The subway vomits people loaded with flags and banners, the surrounding streets unload columns of demonstrators, the beating of drums and the out-of-tune screeching of plastic trumpets is heard. The entire Paseo de la Reforma is a human tide that moves slowly but surely towards the Zocalo. You can hardly walk along the Alameda, you advance with the inertia of the masses, but it is difficult to make your way. At mid-morning in the Zocalo there is no room for another soul. It is the result of the political struggle of the Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, with the opposition: a demonstration of hundreds of thousands of people who have come to the center of Mexico City to endorse the four-year term of the leader. For many of his followers this Sunday is a party, an excuse to commemorate a government that, at least rhetorically, has put the poor at the center of discourse. For others, it is just a way for the president to show off his chest, after thousands of people marched against him two weeks ago, in a protest called by the opposition and in defense of the National Electoral Institute (INE), threatened by the electoral reform that Lopez Obrador wants to execute.
The center of the capital is halfway between a parade, a music festival and a mass mass. There is Morena paraphernalia, Lopez Obrador’s party, on every corner. Printing flags, confetti with the colors of the group, music, food, firecrackers, balloons. For a president who defends austerity like a trench, the march is anything but sober. People have come from all over the country, you can see parked buses that have arrived loaded with protesters from Michoacan, Veracruz, Nuevo Leon, Sinaloa… There is a party atmosphere and the already classic chant “it is an honor to be with Obrador.” A drone flies over the crowd at the height of Bellas Artes and dozens of people raise their hands and greet him. The political tension of other demonstrations that have traveled these same streets is not there, nor is it expected.
Maria de la Luz Velazquez (72 years old) has come with her husband, Enrique Rangel (68 years old), from Tizayuca, in Hidalgo. They have gotten up at three in the morning to be able to arrive early for the appointment. “I was a cook in a restaurant, I worked for several years, I had a business, I quit due to economic problems and we have always been marginalized and poor. There is a lot of change between this president and the previous one, right now we are in glory,” she says. “There are four years of achievements for Mexicans from the poor class, the marginalized class, the forgotten class, since before the benefit was for a few, especially businessmen. As a Mexican I have been through everything, I am a humble peasant from Oaxaca. I was a worker, an electrician, a mason’s assistant. Through the chair that life has given me, I have been seeing that one has to improve, move forward, and when elections are coming up, they have to choose the best candidate based on their proposals”, Rangel reasons.
A child holds up a sign: “They hauled me away. They brought me my convictions, my principles ”. He is seven or eight years old. He poses very smiling for a photo that his grandmother takes of him, armed in turn with two or three posters supporting Lopez Obrador. The banner responds to a controversy initiated by the president himself when he called the march: he assured that there would be no hauling, a common practice in which the politician on duty forces public employees to attend demonstrations. He assured that this time it would not happen, and although it has become one of the slogans of the protest and most of the attendees emphasize it, during the last week complaints have been read on social networks complaining of having received pressure in the work to go
Maria Victoria Pena (60 years old) and Fabiola Lopez (37) have come from Nezahualcoyotl, a humble municipality in the State of Mexico. Both are teachers in public schools. “The president has a national project that is bearing fruit, that is making a revolution of consciousness for young people. This day is a holiday, my skin crawls from seeing all the people, ”Pena defends. “What the opposition does not want is a prepared and aware people, and that is what the president has given us many years ago. We have been fighting with him for 24 years now”, adds Lopez.
On a bench in the Alameda, Jose Antonio Palomares, 61, rests from the walk and takes the opportunity to read a book that he has brought with him from Zitacuaro, in Michoacan. He is dressed humble but elegant, in an aged jacket, shirt and a Mexican tie in the colors of the flag. “I got tired and whenever there is time I take the opportunity to read a little. I have come to thank the changes that have taken place and many new things that are coming. For me we are starting, hopefully and this will continue for the benefit of our children, because one is already going abroad. He, with a voice, realizes that he works for the Ministry of Health, but he is tired of not being promoted because of other more privileged colleagues, with connections between the bosses. “I am a veterinarian and they don’t pay me like what I am. Why do you always put other people first? I have been working there for twenty-something years and no more.”
The columns of protesters continue to trickle towards the Zocalo, although not all of them will be able to reach the great capital square. Thousands will stay around, celebrating. A few have already considered it impossible to reach the end of the route, and rest lying on the Alameda as in a picnic. Aitana (20 years old), Victor (18) and Axel (17) are around there. It’s his first gear. She has been accompanying her grandparents, but they joke and declare themselves “peje [un apodo popular de Lopez Obrador] lovers of heart”. “He gives us scholarships, past governments screwed up all that, the president is good,” says Victor.
Almost six hours after the start of the demonstration, shortly before three in the afternoon, Lopez Obrador, who decided to march on foot surrounded by his team, arrives at the Zocalo. He kisses hands, hugs his followers, greets those who come to take a picture with him. He looks more like a footballer than a president. A religious idol surrounded by his parishioners. Accustomed to mass baths, today is just another small victory for him, proof that he can wrestle with the opposition and emerge victorious. In his speech, he reviews the Administration’s triumphs, puffs out his chest, makes promises such as not being re-elected or extending public health coverage throughout the country. And he considers yet another march closed, amid cheers and applause, immune to criticism.
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