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Anti-AMLO Candidate Plans US Visit to Ask for Election Observers

(Bloomberg) -- Mexican opposition candidate Xochitl Galvez plans to travel to the US to speak at think tanks and ask for international observers to monitor the leadup to June’s presidential elections as she raises concerns about the government trying to give the ruling party an unfair advantage.

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Galvez intends to visit Washington and New York during a week-long trip in early February, according to people familiar with her plans. She will seek to meet with members of Congress, financial institutions and Latin America-focused think tanks, the people said, requesting anonymity because the trip hasn’t been announced publicly.

They cautioned that the plans could still change, given the fluid nature of a campaign.

Most polls ahead of the June 2 election show her trailing Claudia Sheinbaum, the candidate from President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s Morena party, by about 20 points.

Sheinbaum had also been planning a trip to the US around the same time but decided against it in recent days, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Spokespeople for the campaigns of Galvez and Sheinbaum didn’t reply to requests for comment.

Galvez, who stepped down from her position as senator to run in the election, represents a coalition that dominated Mexican politics until Lopez Obrador’s 2018 victory turned Morena into an electoral force. She has made the case that another victory for the party of AMLO, as the president is known, would represent a threat to democratic rule.

Large protests broke out early last year against a new law that cut the budget and workforce of Mexico’s electoral regulator, the INE. In a nation where elections were routinely rigged throughout the 20th century, the law is widely considered a threat to its multiparty system.

Read More: Why Mexico’s Protests Show Anxiety on AMLO, Democracy: QuickTake

Many also saw it as part of the president’s efforts to boost Morena’s chances of victory in the election, claims he has denied. AMLO remains broadly popular but is limited by law to a single, six-year term.

The Biden administration has at times raised concerns about election interference in Latin America, most recently in Guatemala’s August presidential contest.

A senior administration official called Mexico’s democracy vibrant during a Thursday press briefing to preview high-level meetings on migration, adding that the US expects the country’s public authorities to administer the election transparently and with respect for the rule of law.

--With assistance from Maya Averbuch.

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