The Mexican electoral tribunal concluded on Wednesday that the adoption of a buck-toothed cartoon representation of the country’s president constituted a “electoral violation” since it offered party candidates an undue advantage.
For “using the caricature of the President of the Republic in its propaganda, which violates the constitutional norms of neutrality and fair contest,” the panel said it was punishing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Morena party.
The cartoon, affectionately referred to as “Amlito” (a small play on the president’s initials, AMLO), has subsequently been recreated on dolls, key chains, baked goods, banners, and, most importantly, a May 2022 tweet by Morena endorsing six party candidates for local gubernatorial elections.
The image of the 69-year-old head of state with tousled grey hair, two noticeable front teeth, and a friendly childish grin making a thumbs-up motion, created by Mexican caricaturist José Hernández, became well-known during López Obrador’s first presidential run ahead of the 2006 elections.
The tribunal’s higher chamber concluded that there was a “constitutional and legal basis” for approving the message, contending that the image of the well-known head of state shouldn’t have been used as advertising for a contest in which he wasn’t a contestant.
The president, whose support rating is at around 60%, was said to have given his party’s candidates an unfair edge by “capitalising on his image,” according to the argument.
The chamber demanded that “political-electoral propaganda campaigns” stick to discussing only the candidates, their plans, and the agendas of their respective parties. Earlier, Morena filed an appeal, alleging that the use of the caricature was not prohibited by law.
Organizer for an opposition party who submitted the case, Jorge Alvarez, tweeted that, “now the (electoral tribunal) has confirmed the action was illegal and sanctioned them, we will continue the fight through legal channels.”
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