Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador held a massive rally in Mexico City’s main plaza attended by tens of thousands of people Saturday.
Though it was called to commemorate Mexico’s 1938 expropriation of the oil industry, many of those attending the rally Saturday agreed that it was the de-facto opening salvo to the 2024 elections that will choose the president’s successor.
Perhaps conscious of recent tensions with the United States over U.S. overdose deaths from fentanyl smuggled in from Mexico, López Obrador spent part of his speech praising former U.S. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who didn’t actively oppose the 1938 oil expropriation despite the fact many of the firms were American.
”The best example of the authenticity of his ‘Good Neighbor’ policy was his respect for our nation’s sovereignty,” López Obrador said of Roosevelt.
It may be one of the last rallies that will be headed by López Obrador, who is known for his folksy style and charisma. The process to nominate a presidential candidate for his Morena party will begin later this year. After that, the party’s candidate is likely to take center stage.
But most agree that few of the presidential hopefuls can match the popularity of a president whose approval ratings are routinely above 60%. That is especially true for the Morena party, which was largely built around López Obrador.
Alberto Martínez, 59, said he hoped Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum would be the party’s nominee. “We like her education, her prudence,” Martinez said. But he would settle for anyone Morena choose.
Most polls show Sheinbaum as the front-runner in the race, followed by Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard.
“The important thing is for the ideology of López Obrador to continue,” Martínez said. “This train is already in motion, somebody just to get aboard and drive it.”
Former President Lázaro Cárdenas, one of López Obrador’s heroes, delighted Mexicans when he expropriated the largely foreign-owned, privately operated oil industry on March 18, 1938.