May 6, 2019 / 3:53 AM / 6 months ago

Thousands march in protest against Mexico's president

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Several thousand people marched through Mexico City on Sunday to demand the resignation of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in the first major protest against the leftist leader in the capital since he took office five months ago.

Demonstrators take part in a march against the government of Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico City, Mexico May 5, 2019. REUTERS/Luis Cortes

Largely dressed in white, protesters marched down the capital’s main thoroughfare, with many chanting: “AMLO, out!” using the president’s nickname, based on his initials.

Some covered their mouths with masking tape on which they had written: “AMLO resign.” Others waved signs bearing slogans including “Mexico isn’t yours” and “You’re not Robin Hood.”

Lopez Obrador took office in December after defeating the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which had held power for most of the past nine decades.

A former Mexico City mayor who had run twice before for the presidency, Lopez Obrador won the election by a landslide in July pledging to stamp out corruption, reduce violence, tackle inequality and boost the economy.

A number of early opinion polls gave the veteran politician approval ratings of about 80 percent.

Some of his early decisions sowed doubts, however, among supporters and opponents alike, including canceling a partially built, new $13 billion Mexico City airport.

He has also struggled to curb the rampant violence among warring drug cartels. Skepticism is widespread over his plans to dig state oil firm Pemex out of crippling debt.

“Security problems more than anything ... and more and more, there are bigger problems for the youth,” said Enrique Araujo, a retired Pemex employee at the march, listing his concerns. “In two or three years, this country is going to collapse.”

Various institutions have cut their forecasts for Mexican economic growth in 2019, and preliminary figures from the national statistics office showed the economy contracted during the first quarter.

At least 6,000 people participated in the demonstration, authorities said.

Many expressed discontent with Lopez Obrador’s rhetoric against his detractors, such as “fifi” for the people he describes as the conservative elite.

“I feel like he’s generating a big divide in our beautiful country with these derogatory terms that he uses,” said Monica Elizondo, a homemaker. “We’re all Mexicans, and we all deserve to be heard.”

Lopez Obrador has said that at the halfway mark of his six-year term, he will ask Mexicans to vote on whether they want him to keep governing or to resign.

Reporting by Josue Gonzalez; Writing by Daina Beth Solomon and Noe Torres; Editing by Peter Cooney

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