“President AMLO, here are your people!” a cluster of Mexican immigrants shouted. “We love you, AMLO,” one poster declared.
In fact, Mexico’s populist president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, universally known as AMLO, had not, and will not, set foot in Los Angeles this week. He is boycotting the Summit of the Americas, a cause of no small aggravation to the Biden administration leading up to the five-day gathering of Latin American heads of state that wraps up on Friday.
But that didn’t stop a number of AMLO’s supporters, the majority of them Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants, from turning out in downtown L.A. to show their devotion.
“The love for AMLO is international, because of his principles and his humanism,” said Jorge Magallanes, 46, who carried seven-colored signs with different messages expressing his support for López Obrador.
The demonstration, which started at noon at Pershing Square, was organized by AMLO enthusiasts as well as organizations pressing President Biden to place the issue of immigration reform at the center of his administration’s agenda.
Biden flew into Los Angeles on Wednesday to formally open the summit by extolling democracy throughout the hemisphere, while downplaying tensions stemming from the White House’s decision to exclude the leaders of Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua from the event. That diplomatic snub set off a counterwave that led to AMLO and other leaders deciding to boycott the event themselves.
At the march, which gradually made its way to the Convention Center, the flags of the United States, Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela waved, mixed with posters in English and Spanish urging Biden to lower immigration barriers. During his presidential campaign, Biden had pledged to introduce an immigration reform package aimed at the nation’s 12 million immigrants without legal status during his first 100 days in the Oval Office.
But that promise quickly bogged down, falling victim largely to partisan politics, and is stalled in Congress.