June 19, 2020 / 5:20 PM / 18 days ago

Mexican anti-discrimination agency chief resigns after censure by president

FILE PHOTO: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, accompanied by his wife, Beatriz Gutierrez Muller, attend the anniversary of his first year in office at the Zocalo Square in Mexico City, Mexico, December 1, 2019. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The head of the Mexican government’s anti-discrimination agency quit after criticism by President Andres Lopez Manuel Obrador, who on Friday said he would likely appoint an indigenous person in her place.

Lopez Obrador chastised National Council for Preventing Discrimination chief Monica Maccise because it organized a “classism and racism in Mexico” event on Wednesday and invited a comedian the president and his wife consider racist.

“I think that this event should not have been convened and those who do not share the transformation policy that is being carried out (by the government), in complete freedom can decide not to work for this government,” Lopez Obrador said in his morning press conference on Friday.

The leftist president said he was also planning to fold the agency into the Interior Ministry.

The death in the United States of African American George Floyd under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis has sparked a fresh debate about racism in Mexico, where the issue often goes hand-in-hand with classism.

Lopez Obrador on Wednesday questioned why an invitation to the event had been extended to comedian Chumel Torres, who became famous for his current affairs commentary on YouTube and has a television program on the U.S. channel HBO.

“They are people characterized by despising others, truly racists ... now it turns out that for a forum against discrimination you are invited,” Lopez Obrador said. “It’s like inviting a torturer to a human rights forum.”

The president’s wife Beatriz Gutierrez had previously taken offence to Torres making a joke about her son by calling him “chocoflan”, referring to the dessert which is half black in colour and the other half a lighter hue.

The comedian apologised for his comments but after Maccise’s resignation Torres said free speech in Mexico is under threat for those who disagree with Lopez Obrador.

Reporting by Raul Cortes Fernandez; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Grant McCool

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