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López Obrador urges senate for a plebiscite to decide the fate of Mexico’s former presidents

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Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

On Tuesday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged Senate to consider plebiscite as a means to decide the fate of former Presidents of Mexico put on trial.  López Obrador accused them of inciting rampant episodes of violence, practicing inequality, and executing grand corruption plan, including privatizations rife with cronyism, spiraling massive accumulating of wealth.

He said, “Mexico experienced a period characterized by an excessive concentration of wealth, monumental devastation to the treasury, privatization of public goods, general corruption, foul electoral processes, and governing practices that led to uncontrolled growth of violence.”

To back his proposal, the Mexican president read out a document in the Senate that contained a series of grievances narrating public injustice endured over the past three decades before López Obrador took office in December 2018. He suggested the assembly to prosecute five former presidents through a public vote to be held at the same time as midterm elections on 6 June 2021. All of the former Mexican presidents under trial belonged to the long-ruling centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) or the conservative National Action Party (PAN).

López Obrador’s critics highlighted his double standards as he earlier said that he did not like putting past presidents on trial but with elections nearing he was doing exactly the same. He said, “We must not be anchored to the past.” But he has a track record of putting controversial ideas to “the people”. His opponents also accused of using the trail as a means to divert Mexican people from discussing López Obrador’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, his policies towards dwindling economy marred by the pandemic, which caused the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression, and increasing violence in society with gang violence hitting record levels.

“It also allows him to keep the flame of grievance alive and have people express their frustration, anger, and resentment, which is very real,” said Carlos Bravo Regidor, a political analyst in Mexico City.

Besides, Lopez Obrador, who is also called as Amlo, has been encashing on public outrage and emotions. He probably did not pay much heed to revisit Mexican law before making the plebiscite proposal as the country’s law doesn’t allow holding a referendum on the same day as an existing election.

“Amlo does not think like a lawyer,” said Rodolfo Soriano Núñez, a sociologist in Mexico City. “I am not betting my soul on Amlo getting people in jail, but we need to address these issues.”

Many even highlighted Amlo’s past wherein his family was accused of corruption. A 2015 video showed his brother Pío López Obrador accepting cash payments for Amlo’s political party. Amlo called the money in question “contributions” from his brother.

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