Political rivals “gang up” on AMLO during first presidential debate

Front-runner López Obrador was attacked for his proposal to grant amnesty to criminals as part of his strategy to pacify the country

Political rivals “gang up” on AMLO during first presidential debate
Andrés Manuel López Obrador leaving the venue of the debate - Henry Romero/REUTERS
English 23/04/2018 11:07 Newsroom Mexico City Ariadna García, Misael Zavala, Alberto Morales, Suzzete Alcántara & Horacio Jiménez Actualizada 10:28
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The first debate between the five candidates running for President of Mexican Republic had one constant: the sustained attack on front-runner Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) by his four political rivals.

The Palace of Mines was the venue in which a new debate format debuted to contrast the ideas and projects of the five presidential candidates – José Antonio Meade, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Ricardo Anaya, Margarita Zavala, and Jaime Rodríguez – organized by the National Electoral Institute (INE). The moderators of this first debate – out of the three scheduled – were journalists Sergio Sarmiento, Azucena Uresti, and Denise Maerker.

Most of the heat López Obrador received was focused on his proposal to grant amnesty to criminals in order to bring peace to the country.

“Amnesty does not mean impunity,” the candidate replied. He even detailed he would consider holding a dialogue between Pope Francis and experts to develop a strategy to tackle corruption, violence, and insecurity.

Moreover, Obrador reaffirmed his proposal of introducing a bill so two-year referendums can be held during his term in office to allow the people to remove him from his position should they be unsatisfied with his performance.

“Proposing to pardon criminals is madness and it would lead to an immense amount of violence in the country,” retaliated Obrador's nearest challenger, Ricardo Anaya, of the “For Mexico to the Front” coalition.

López Obrador stated he reduced crime rates during his term as Mayor of Mexico City but at a certain point he said: “Of course, they're all against me here, ganging up on me.”

Furthermore, Anaya questioned Obrador on his link to "corrupt" political figures Andrés Manuel himself denounced in a book he wrote on the FOBAPROA –  a contingencies fund implemented in 1995 to protect banking institutions – who are now candidates supported by his political party.

While Obrador was the target of most of the attacks, Anaya also came under heavy fire himself as the accusations that he laundered money over a property deal resurfaced.

“There are no charges against me. Here is the resolution of the [electoral] court which proves you used the PGR [Mexico's Office of the Attorney General] illegally and contentiously to damage my reputation,” he shot back to José Antonio Meade, whom Anaya later questioned on his closeness with former Chihuahua Governor César Duarte – accused of embezzlement and currently a fugitive – as he showed a photograph of both, Meade and Duarte, cutting a cake.

The debate ended with the closing remarks of the five candidates, in which Anaya claimed his coalition was the only political force capable of defeating Lopez Obrador on election day.


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