MEXICO CITY — In Mexico, there has been a lot of handwringing over the undemocratic tendencies of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

He rammed through reforms to the electoral commission that Human Rights Watch said would "eliminate many of the safeguards intended to preserve the independence" of the body in charge of elections. López Obrador is still immensely popular in Mexico. Across the country you'll find graffiti and placards that say "Que siga el presidente" (Let the president continue.)

But López Obrador has said he will not seek an unconstitutional second term. And at his press conference on Thursday, he was categorical, saying after his six-year term ends, he will retire.

"I won't accept any public office. I don't want to be anyone's political adviser. I won't act as a party boss. I will not have relationships with politicians. I won't talk about politics," he said. " I will write, which is related to politics. But it will be more than anything, an academic activity."

Although he's flagged his attention to stand down before, this statement was far more categorical. And in the current climate, significant.

His comments are important, because democracy in Latin America is in retreat. Authoritarianism has already taken hold in Venezuela and Nicaragua. And the president of El Salvador has announced he will defy constitutional term limits and run again for president next year.

Mexico is a Latin American powerhouse, so this declaration from one of the most powerful leaders in the region sends a clear message that a core tenant of democracy in Mexico will be respected.

This story originally appeared in NPR's Newscast.

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