Mexico president marks 1st year
with party, protests
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Thousands of Mexicans packed into the capital’s central square Sunday to celebrate President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s first year in office, while thousands more marched down the city’s main avenue to protest violence and other ills in the country.
The mood in the Zocalo was festive, with an orchestra from the president’s home state of Tabasco playing tropical music inspired by Cuban sounds while scantily clad women danced next to them. Revelers donned masks bearing López Obrador’s likeness in what supporters have dubbed AMLOFest, a play on the president’s initials.
Polls say more than half of Mexicans support the way López Obrador is running the country, despite rising homicide rates and a floundering economy that is flirting with recession.
López Obrador has big ambitions to change Mexico. He says, often, that for the good of all the poor must take priority and vows to staunch widespread corruption. He calls his presidency the “Fourth Transformation,” equating it with national milestones like Mexico’s independence from Spanish rule.
In a speech Sunday, the president tallied his achievements so far, such as the rollout of new social programs aimed mostly at helping the young, elderly and indigenous. The World Bank estimates that one of three Mexicans lives in poverty.
“There still hasn’t been economic growth like we want,” he conceded, “but I insist there’s a better distribution of wealth.”
On the Paseo de la Reforma boulevard, meanwhile, protesters dressed in white expressed anger and frustration over increasingly appalling incidents of violence, a stagnant economy and deepening political divisions in the country.
The November slaughter by Mexican drug cartel gunmen of three women who held U.S. citizenship and six of their children focused world attention on the rising violence.
Adrián and Julián LeBarón, who lost family members in the attack in northern Mexico, joined the protesters in the capital.
The protesters shouted cheers of support as the LeBaróns passed the Angel of Independence monument, chanting: “LeBarón, LeBarón,” followed by, “You’re not alone.”
Julián LeBarón told reporters that Mexico’s president needs the help of the people to overcome organized crime.
Pro-democracy rally cut short by police tear gas
HONG KONG (AP) — Thousands of people took to Hong Kong’s streets Sunday in a new wave of pro-democracy protests, but police fired tear gas after some demonstrators hurled bricks and smoke bombs, breaking a rare pause in violence that has persisted during the six-month-long movement.
In the largest of three rallies, a key thoroughfare along the waterfront on the Kowloon side of Victoria Harbour was packed with demonstrators, from hardened masked protesters in all-black outfits to families and the elderly. They chanted “Five demands, not one less” and “Disband the police force” as they marched.
That rally followed two other marches earlier Sunday as protesters sought to keep the pressure on city leader Carrie Lam after the recent win by the pro-democracy camp in district council elections and the gaining of U.S. support for their cause.
“If we don’t walk out, the government will say it’s just a youth issue, but this is a Hong Kong problem that affects all of us,” Lily Chau, 30, said as she pushed her toddler in a stroller at the march in Kowloon. “If we are scared, the government will continue to trample on our rights.”
Police estimated that 16,000 people attended the Kowloon rally.
Malta leader to resign amid protests over reporter’s death
VALLETTA, Malta (AP) — Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told the nation Sunday night that he would resign in January, following pressure from angry citizens for the truth about the 2017 car bombing that killed an anti-corruption journalist.
In a televised message, Muscat said he had informed Malta’s president that he will quit as leader of the governing Labor Party on Jan. 12 and that “in the days after I will resign as prime minister.”
Hours earlier, nearly 20,000 Maltese protested outside a courthouse in the capital, Valletta, demanding that he step down in the largest such turnout of nearly daily protests in recent weeks.
“As prime minister, I promised two years ago that justice would be done in the case of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia,” Muscat said, beginning his speech, adding that “today I am here to tell you that I kept my word.”
But the slain reporter’s family contended Muscat’s departure won’t satisfy those in the nation who are determined that corruption and cronyism between politicians and business figures be rooted out.
“People will be out in the streets again tomorrow,” tweeted one of her sons, Matthew Caruana Galizia, who is also a journalist.
Muscat contended that “justice is being done.”