April 23, Reuters

MEXICO CITY - Mexico's top electoral body ordered broadcasters to stop running a controversial TV ad on Monday that compares a firebrand leftist leading a siege of Congress to dictators Hitler and Pinochet.

The TV ad, funded by a Mexican businessman angry at a blockade of Congress by opposition lawmakers trying to derail an oil reform plan, says the antics of protest leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador are endangering democracy.

"The complaints committee decided unanimously to order the withdrawal of the spot from today," a spokesman for the Federal Electoral Institute told Reuters.

Leftists seized Congress podiums on April 10 to block a government proposal to lower barriers to private investment in the oil sector, controlled by the state since 1938. The action has left Congress paralyzed.

"Who shuts congresses? In 1933, Adolf Hitler in Germany. In 1939, Benito Mussolini in Italy. In 1973, Augusto Pinochet of Chile," the ad says, over grainy footage of the Nazi leader, his fascist ally in Italy and Chile's late military dictator.

The 30-second spot was a flashback to conservative ads run in the 2006 election campaign calling the former rights activist and then presidential hopeful a danger to Mexico.

"Our democracy is in danger. Our peace is at risk. Mexico does not deserve this," the voice-over said.

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photo: Former presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speeches to supporters during a meeting as Mexico celebrate the 70th anniversary of the expropriation of Mexico's oil industry at Mexico City's Zocalo in this March 18, 2008 file photo (REUTERS/Henry Romero)