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López Obrador ordered to erase ‘Plan C’ statements from official media

Ironically, the directive from Mexico’s federal electoral agency may have fanned the flames of the president’s declaration, which it claims is prohibited by electoral law.

MEXICO CITY (CN) — Federal elections authorities Thursday ordered Mexico’s president to remove statements made this week telling citizens to not vote for opposition parties in general elections as a means to enact his desired electoral reform. 

On March 24, the Supreme Court blocked the so-called “Plan B” to the tanked constitutional reform he originally wanted, so President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced at his morning press conference Monday that he had a backup to the backup plan.

His “Plan C” for the reform was none other than good ole democracy: “Don’t vote for the conservative block so that the transformation can continue. Not one vote for the conservatives!”

But Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE) considered the declarations to be prohibited political speech from a public servant, saying in a statement Thursday that they “infringe upon the principle of equity” in upcoming state elections in Coahuila and México State.

Thus, it ordered the president to remove the references to Plan C from all of his digital media platforms. 

López Obrador maintains a website where he posts video and transcriptions of all of his daily morning press conferences and other public appearances. He also broadcasts the conferences live via his accounts on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, and has accounts on Instagram and Telegram as well. 

The INE's order derived from a complaint filed by members of the opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and Senator Kenia López Rabadán, of the National Action Party. According to the agency's statement, the complaint accused López Obrador of “improper use of public resources and violation of the principle of equity in the contest.”

An INE spokesperson told Courthouse News that the legislators initially wanted “preventative measures” to be taken against López Obrador, but the commission handling the complaint believed the request to be unenforceable. 

The spokesperson also acknowledged the evident futility of trying to put the cat back in the bag — the president’s statements were widely reported in Mexico — but said that the INE was merely responding within its power to the lawmakers’ requests. 

“In the end, the INE just ordered the president to take those pronouncements down from [media transmitting] that conference,” the spokesperson said. 

Neither Senator López nor the PRD office immediately responded to requests for comment. 

Reactions online to López Obrador’s latest course of action to reform Mexico’s electoral system have been unsurprisingly as polarized as nearly every issue in the country’s current political landscape. 

Political analyst and vocal López Obrador opponent Denise Dresser called his Plan C another step in “the democratic backsliding of Mexico” in a tweet posted Wednesday.

Former Civil Service Secretary Max Kaiser said in a tweet on Tuesday: “Plan A, Plan B, Plan C…..etc. all have one objective: Destroy the electoral system, destroy the INE, in order to cling to power,”

López Obrador’s supporters, on the other hand, have rallied around the president’s call. And, in an ironic twist, the INE’s order may have added more fuel to the Plan C fire.

Pro-López Obrador YouTuber Manuel Pedrero sarcastically implored his more than 90,000 Twitter followers not to retweet a clip of the president speaking about Plan C. 

“Please, please, please don’t share this video that says what Plan C is! Don’t share it!” he tweeted Thursday, ending the post with a winky face emoji.

Similar tweets sharing clips of the president and having a good laugh at the inherent inanity of the order to erase his statements from government media abounded on Twitter Thursday afternoon.

As of writing, the statements had not been removed from the transcript of Monday’s press conference on López Obrador’s website. 

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