Mexico's president claims country has 'more democracy' than the US, in rebuke of State Department
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador challenges US State Department remarks of Mexico City pro-democracy demonstrations
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday rebuked the U.S. State Department’s comments regarding electoral demonstrations happening south of the border, arguing "there is more democracy in Mexico than could exist in the United States."
"If they want to have a debate on this issue, let's do it," López Obrador told reporters. "I have evidence to prove there is more liberty and democracy in our country."
At a news conference, Lopez Obrador added that the U.S. State Department "always meddles in things that are not its business," reflecting a "bad habit" from Washington that runs "quite contrary" to President Biden’s messaging, according to Reuters.
Last week, Mexico’s Senate approved López Obrador’s plan to cut salaries and funding for local election offices, and scale back training for citizens who operate and oversee polling stations. The changes would also reduce sanctions for candidates who fail to report campaign spending.
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López Obrador denies accusations from opposition that reforms are a threat to democracy, calling the criticism elitist. He argues that funds would be better spent on the poor. Tens of thousands of people demonstrated over the weekend in Mexico City’s main plaza, calling the cuts a threat to democracy.
Asked about the pro-democracy demonstrations happening in Mexico, some of the largest in years, State Department spokesman Ned Price answered carefully Monday.
"We are very closely following the latest developments with Mexico’s electoral reforms. We of course respect Mexico’s sovereignty," Price told reporters at a daily press briefing. "Mexico is an equal partner, and we believe a well-resourced, independent electoral system and respect for judicial independence support healthy democracy around the world and, of course, in Mexico as well.
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"Independent institutions free of political influence constitute a cornerstone of democracy, again, around the world," he added. "Nonpartisan, well-resourced electoral institutions in particular ensure that all voices are heard in fundamental democratic processes."
Later Monday, Price also released a written statement on the "protests against the electoral overhaul in Mexico."
"Healthy democracies benefit from strong institutions and a plurality of voices," the statement said. "The United States supports independent, well-resourced electoral institutions that strengthen democratic processes and the rule of law."
"Around the world, we have witnessed challenges to democracy that have tested and are testing the strength of independent electoral and judicial institutions," he added.
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"Today, in Mexico, we see a great debate on electoral reforms on the independence of electoral and judicial institutions that illustrates Mexico’s vibrant democracy. We respect Mexico’s sovereignty. We believe that a well-resourced, independent electoral system and respect for judicial independence support healthy democracy."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.