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Partisan Websites Spin Mexican Campaign Rhetoric


Q: Did the front-runner in the presidential race in Mexico call for an “invasion” of migrants to the U.S.?

A: No. Andrés Manuel López Obrador pledged to “defend migrants … who of necessity have to leave their villages.”

FULL ANSWER

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a presidential candidate in Mexico, did not call for an “invasion” of migrants to the U.S.

But in the controversy surrounding the separation of families apprehended on the Southwest border, some partisan websites have mischaracterized a statement he made at a recent rally in Northern Mexico.

Here’s what López Obrador actually said at a rally in Culiacán on June 19 after laying out three proposals to address the treatment of migrant children at the U.S. border, translated from the original Spanish:

“Soon, very soon, to the triumph of our movement, we will defend migrants from Mexico, Central America, of the entire American continent and all the migrants of the world who of necessity have to leave their villages to go and seek life in the United States; it is a human right that we will defend for all Mexicans and all migrants.”

The candidate was speaking about the conditions under which migrant children were being held, and he called on the current Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, to take action, including sending a team of lawyers and psychologists to the border to assist families.

It’s unclear exactly what López Obrador meant by “human right” in his quote. He was speaking of migrants “who of necessity have to leave their villages,” but he didn’t call for “an invasion” of Mexican citizens, which is how some websites spun his comments.

The distortion of López Obrador’s quote appears to have begun when the right-leaning Daily Caller reported:

“Mexican presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) called for mass immigration to the United States during a speech Tuesday declaring it a ‘human right’ for all North Americans.”

Then partisan websites ratcheted up the slant with headlines like, “MEXICO’S NEXT PRESIDENT Calls for An Invasion Of The US By Mexican Citizens: ‘must leave their towns and find a life in the United States’” and “Mexico’s Next President Tells Country: They ‘must leave their towns and find a life in the United States’…

The Mexican constitution limits presidents to one six-year term, so Peña Nieto is not eligible for reelection. Four candidates are vying for the seat, and López Obrador, a leftist, is leading the pack, according to recent polls. The election is scheduled for July 1.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk false stories shared on the social media network.

Sources

Kiely, Eugene, et al. “More Bogus Border Claims.” FactCheck.org. 21 Jun 2018.

Diaz, Cristian and León, Raymundo. “López Obrador asks Peña Nieto to protect migrant children.” La Jornada. 20 Jun 2018.

López Obrador, Andrés Manuel. “Ask AMLO for Peña to act urgently and immediately on the issue of Mexican children deported from the US.” LopezObrador.org. 19 Jun 2018.

Encyclopaedia Britannica. Mexico: Government and Society — Constitutional Framework. Accessed 27 Jun 2018.

Mexican Election Coverage.” Bloomberg. 27 Jun 2018.

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