President Biden plans to co-host the Second Summit for Democracy from March 29-30 to “defend free and fair elections” around the world. But he should seriously consider not inviting the president of Mexico — or giving him a very minor role in the meeting.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador is rapidly taking Mexico back to its authoritarian past, when one almighty political party ruled the country for seven consecutive decades until 2000. The then-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party controlled virtually all national institutions and could rig elections and steal public funds at will.
There are several reasons why Lopez Obrador should not be sitting at the table at the virtual democracy summit that Biden will host alongside the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, South Korea and Zambia. More than 100 governments from around the world are scheduled to attend the plenary session.
First, Lopez Obrador is dismantling Mexico’s National Electoral Institute, or INE, the independent election agency that has made free elections in Mexico possible since the 1990s. Among other things, the INE counts the votes, and monitors the election process to make sure that the government doesn’t use public funds to favor its candidate and forces officials to abide by electoral rules.