By Dave Graham
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Mexico’s president on Thursday blasted social media companies for blocking the accounts of President Donald Trump for his part in chaotic scenes in Washington on Wednesday, again appearing to cleave to his U.S. counterpart in a contentious dispute.
Four people died during the havoc that erupted after pro-Trump protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a bid to force Congress to block the appointment of President-elect Joe Biden, whose Nov. 3 election victory Trump has cast as fraudulent.
Many U.S. allies condemned the events at the Capitol, which Biden said bordered on “sedition.”
However, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was reluctant to comment on what occurred at the Capitol, reiterating a position that his government does not meddle in the affairs of other nations.
Twitter Inc, Facebook Inc and Snap Inc temporarily blocked Trump’s accounts as they scrambled to contain his baseless claims about the presidential election amid the riots.
That decision, said Lopez Obrador, was not acceptable.
“I don’t like censorship,” he told a news conference. “I don’t like anyone to be censored and for them to have their right taken away to send a message on Twitter or on Facebook.”
Lopez Obrador, who waited weeks to congratulate Biden on his election victory, arguing that disputes over the process needed to be resolved first, did not mention Trump by name. But he brought up the social media intervention without prompting.
By then some critics of the Mexican president were complaining on social media that he had not been forceful enough in rejecting the storming of the Capitol.
“We’re not going to intervene in these matters, which are up to the Americans to resolve, to deal with. That’s our policy, that’s what I can say,” Lopez Obrador said earlier in the news briefing when asked to comment on what happened in Congress.
His government was less hesitant to raise concerns about events abroad in 2019 when it called the ousting of Bolivia’s leader Evo Morales a coup and gave him political asylum.
Lopez Obrador this week offered asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on the day a British court rejected a bid by the United States to secure his extradition for alleged offenses committed during the Obama administration, when Biden was vice-president. That offer upset some Biden supporters.
A combative leftist, Lopez Obrador in 2006 led massive protests in Mexico claiming he had been robbed of the presidency. He again cried foul when he was defeated in 2012, and finally won office by a landslide six years later.
A critic of Trump while in opposition, Lopez Obrador as president has regularly paid tribute to the U.S. leader, who is widely disliked in Mexico for his insults against migrants, and threats to inflict economic pain on the country.
Lopez Obrador expressed regret that lives had been lost in Washington on Wednesday and said he had always believed that conflicts should be resolved “via dialogue and peaceful means”.
Facebook said Thursday it was extending the suspension on Trump’s accounts at least until his term ends.
(Reporting by Dave GrahamAdditional reporting by Anthony EspositoEditing by Marguerita Choy and Alistair Bell)