Mexico’s president defends prosecution referendum, says it was not a “failure”

The 'Yes' vote swept 97.7% of the votes, against 1.5% for 'No' and 0.7% void votes, but voter participation was only 7.1% of the electorate, far from the 40% necessary for the result to be binding.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, defended this Monday, August 2, the popular consultation he called on prosecuting the country’s former presidents, marked by a low turnout, saying it was not a “failure” as he blamed the electoral body for not having the “enthusiasm” to organize it.

“Those who do not authentically process democracy as a way of life and government, and the media are going to say ‘failure’. When is democracy going to fail? Never”, exclaimed the President in his morning press conference from Puerto Vallarta, in the state of Jalisco.

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The ‘Yes’ vote won 97.7% of the votes, against 1.5% for a ‘No’ and 0.7% of void votes, but the participation was only 7.1% of eligible voters, far from the 40% necessary for the plebiscite result to be binding.

According to the National Electoral Institute (INE) final tally, only 6.6 million of the 93 million eligible Mexican voters actually participated – the vote of 37 million people was required for ratification of the measure.

“It was really very important and exemplary what was experienced today, ” said the President.

Although it was the first popular consultation at the federal level in the history of Mexico, López Obrador said that never before had so many people voted in such an exercise, since the informal consultation he called in 2018 on canceling the works of the capital airport had the participation of only one million people.

“That is why now it is a triumph that 6.6 million citizens participated yesterday, regardless of what they decided to vote, even with all the confusion of the question,” he expressed.

He also recalled that next March, there will be a consultation on the revocation of his mandate, and he is convinced that many more people will vote.

Initially, the consultation called by López Obrador proposed to prosecute former presidents Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994), Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000), Vicente Fox (2000-2006), Felipe Calderón (2006-2012), and Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018) for corruption, electoral frauds and the war against drug trafficking, among other supposed evils.

But the Supreme Court modified the question to preserve the presumption of innocence and removed all the specific names, thus leaving a very open-ended statement asking Mexicans whether they want to “undertake a process of clarification of the political decisions made in past years.”

The statement divided Mexicans between those who believed that the consultation could end the country’s historic impunity and those who considered it absurd to vote to enforce the law.

The president took the opportunity to again lash out against the electoral authority, which the ruling party accuses of not having put enough effort into the consultation organization. “They had no enthusiasm for this consultation. They have had no enthusiasm for democracy; they pretend to be democrats,” he decried.

Even though López Obrador called for the referendum, he himself did not vote, allegedly because his forte “is not revenge”; furthermore, he never clarified the eventual consequences of the consultation.

In this regard, he maintained this Monday that the low turnout does not prevent “the possibility of lawsuits” since the authorities have “the right to act when it comes to judicial matters as long as there is evidence.”

On the other hand, his party, the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), announced a Truth Commission to investigate past administrations.

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