07 May 2009

Are rules about flu illegitimate?


Most campaigns called off large rallies due to the flu outbreak, but not AMLO, who is receiving IFE scrutiny for this gathering in Tabasco ...

The News

Andrés Manuel López Obrador hit the campaign trail on Wednesday, holding rallies that appeared to violate recommendations issued by the Health Secretariat regarding large public gatherings.

The Web site of López Obrador's "legitimate government" reported that 2,000 followers attended an event in Tamulté de las Sabanas, Tabasco, where the left-wing firebrand politicized the flu issue, pressed the flesh and opted not to wear a mask.

"The usurper government has abandoned the people and for that simple reason, these epidemics affect the Mexican population," López Obrador said. President Felipe Calderón, he added, "Alarmed people through the media and spread fear among Mexicans."

By convening campaign events this week in Tabasco and Chiapas and blaming the federal government for the impact of flu outbreak, López Obrador is once again courting controversy with electoral officials, political rivals and even members of his own Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD.

The Health Secretariat has established rules for campaigns: no large gatherings and only small events, to be held between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. But López Obrador brushed off suggestions from reporters that he was being reckless during a health crisis, telling them, "I only came to pass out pamphlets."

The rules may not technically apply, as López Obrador is not actually running in the July 5 midterm elections that will renew the 500-seat Chamber of Deputies and see municipal and gubernatorial changes. Instead, he plans to hold rallies and broadcast advertisements across the country - except in Mexico City and Tabasco, from which he hails - for candidates from the Labor Party/Convergence party coalition known as Let's Save Mexico.

In the capital and Tabasco, he plans to campaign on behalf of the PRD.

César Yáñez, a spokesman for López Obrador, told The News earlier this week that the current campaign was launched to ensure that the coalition parties win at least 2 percent support, enough to maintain registration with the Federal Electoral Institute, or IFE, and ensure subsidies of more than 1 billion pesos over the next three years.

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