Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans took to the streets alongside President Andres Manuel López Obrador, in a march on Sunday. The president himself led the march in Mexico City, in a demonstration dubbed the “peoples’ march” which marked four years in office for the left-leaning president, The protest march was a response to a large-scale rally that opposed a proposal by Obrador some two weeks ago. Before assuming the presidency, Obrador has been known to have led some of Mexico’s biggest protests. 

According to Associated Press, the march was accompanied by a festive atmosphere with mariachi music and singing being played by those attending. Participants were said to have been bussed from the provinces across the country in trips organized by the president’s Morena Party, along with unions and many social groups. 

In a statement after the march, Obrador repeated the words “Effective suffrage, effective democracy, and no to re-election,” which were a part of his slogans that supposedly championed the poor and challenged the oligarchy. 

The opposition insisted that participants were forced to participate in the march, however, the president said he had not put a “penny” of the federal budget into the demonstration. Demonstrators who were questioned supported the president's words as they said they participated voluntarily. Many of those who attended were transported by local governments and politicians who wanted to gain favor with the ruling party. 

Gaby Contreras, a former mayor of the Morena party, brought a group from Teoloyucan and was the only one of her group who was authorized to speak. She said they were participating in the demonstration to show their support for the president.

A simple bricklayer, Pedro Sánchez, came with his wife from the Tehuantepec isthmus in southern Mexico and said his municipality organized their trip to the capital.  América Verdugo, a lawyer, and supporter of the president flew in from Sonora to participate as well.

“It's called ‘organization’ and believe it or not, it’s what we’ve been doing since 2006,” said Nelly Muñoz, an administrator from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. In 2006 Obrador was said to have come within 0.56% of the vote of winning the presidency and denounced his loss as fraudulent. Many supported him, as they launched a mass demonstration. 

President of Mexico Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador President of Mexico Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks as part of the daily briefing at Palacio Nacional on December 16, 2021 in Mexico City, Mexico. Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images