Mexican President's SUV Surrounded by Group Demanding Meeting, He Livestreams Encounter

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador posted a live video as his SUV was stopped and surrounded by a radical teachers' group that demanded he meet with them then and there, the Associated Press reported.

"I cannot allow myself to be blackmailed by anybody," López Obrador said during the livestream as he refused the protestors' demands.

The president was halted on the way to his usual daily morning news conference, and a video of the livestream was shown at the press conference as other officials carried on with the briefing in his absence.

The incident occurred in the southern state of Chiapas and the SUV was allowed to proceed after a couple of hours.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Mexican President Speaks During Paralympics Delegation
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's SUV was stopped and surrounded by protestors Friday, and the president livestreamed the encounter. López Obrador speaks during the Paralympic delegation's farewell at Palacio Nacional on Aug. 17, 2021 in Mexico City. Hector Vivas/Getty Images

But López Obrador also stressed that the incident was an example of his policy of non-violence and avoiding the use of force. He noted that he was stopped on a road in front of a military barracks, but would not call out the army to disperse the protesters.

"This is what (Nelson) Mandela did, this is what (Martin) Luther King did, this is what (Mahatma) Gandhi did, non-violence," López Obrador said.

But the brief holding of the president was also an instance of how some of his own policies have backfired on him.

López Obrador has been kinder to radical teachers than any of his predecessors, endorsing their demands for less-stringent teacher evaluations and better conditions. Past administrations had cracked down on the radical teachers' union known as the CNTE, which has been known for blockading roads, railways and entire cities.

By Friday, even López Obrador admitted that the union leadership in some states had gone bad.

"In Chiapas state, and also in Michoacan, the leaderships have become special interests," he said. "I cannot surrender to any special interest group."

López Obrador has also refused to use the presidential jet, preferring to travel with a small unarmed security detail and using commercial flights and ground transport wherever he can.

His instructions to police, soldiers and the National Guard to avoid confrontations whenever possible has also given freer reign to drug cartels, vigilantes and other groups in some areas.

It was one of the few times that López Obrador has been absent from the unprecedented daily morning news conferences he has held almost every weekday since he took office December 1, 2018.

When the president caught COVID-19 in late January, he handed over the news conferences to then-Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero for a couple of weeks before returning.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador
The SUV carrying Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was stopped and surrounded by a teachers’ group Friday, Aug. 27, 2021 in the southern state of Chiapas, preventing him from leading his usual daily morning news conference. In this Aug. 13, 2021 file photo, López Obrador speaks during a military parade introducing the new army commander in Mexico City. Fernando Llano, File/AP Photo