After Mexico's second richest man told his employees to vote against the center-left candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known locally as AMLO, workers from one of his mines demanded their right to choose who they're voting for.
Workers from the Buenavista del Cobre mining company and members of the Section 65 of the National Union of Mine, Metal, Iron, Steel and Similar Workers of the Mexican Republic (Sntmmssc) rejected the call of German Larrea Mota Velazco, president of the Grupo Mexico conglomerate that owns the mine, to vote against AMLO.
In a letter, German Larrea warned workers about the “dangers” that would come if a “populist economic model” is imposed in Mexico, without actually mentioning the Mexican front-runner.
But the miners from Cananea, Sonora, which employs about 8,500 workers, felt threatened by Larrea's words, said his remarks show “his high degree of impunity” and demanded respect for their right to vote for whoever candidate they want.
Antonio Navarrete, spokesman for the union's section 65, said that bosses, CEOs, managers or anyone shouldn't interfere in the workers' right to vote, since the free and secret vote is a constitutional right. “We totally disagree with the threatening stance towards the mining guild. In a country where democracy is supposedly practiced, this is not right and we will not allow it,” said Navarrete.
He also said that directors usually tell workers who to vote for by pressure and threatening comments, even promoting proselitist acts among them. “With remarks they lead you to vote for their preferred candidates, but this time we will vote freely because we're fed up. We don't want businesspeople to choose the president anymore,” said Sergio Tolano, secretary general of the same union's section.
Tolano also said Grupo Mexico has achieved great levels of impunity and corruption thanks to their capacity to influence the presidential elections by getting their employees to vote for the candidates that will favor them the most and therefore managing to become the fourth largest miner in the world.
The union demanded the electoral authorities intervene and stop threats coming from Grupo Mexico's president against the thousands of miners, rail workers and wheelrights.
On his part, AMLO, candidate for the National Renewal Movement (Morena), answered Larrea and asked him not to try to deter anybody from voting.
“I tell German Larrea that I have no resentment against him, that I don't hate anyone. I am in favor of love and forgiveness. And that he shouldn't scare anybody and that he shouldn't be scared. We will win and we will grant investment guarantees. No business person will be affected. The only thing we want is to end corruption and influence politics,” said Lopez Obrador during a campaign event in Veracruz.
Lopez Obrador has been widely criticized by the Mexican left because of his most recent conciliatory terms with the business class, including high profile investors, and his weak stance on extractivist and transgenic policies.
In spite of this, or perhaps thanks to it, he is leading all polls by a wide margin. In the most recent poll conducted by Bloomberg, the center-left candidate got 53 percent of the vote intention, two times what the right-wing runner-up Ricardo Anaya has.