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President López Obrador at his Monday press conference. President López Obrador at his Monday press conference. Presidencia de la República

AMLO basks, Cristina survives: The week at the morning news conferences

It was all smiles and back to school on Monday but disaster nearly struck in Argentina later in the week

Tireless as a pinball, President López Obrador was in six states in three days last weekend to promote the expansion of internet services. Workers from the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) in México state, Chiapas, Nuevo León, Sinaloa, Nayarit and Veracruz all received the benefit of his wisdom.

Monday

“Congratulations to the moms, dads, male teachers, female teachers, education workers, girls, boys and to all students, because today we are returning to classes. A new school year,” the president enthused.

Smiling children were beamed in alongside Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, before similar live links of the governors of Chiapas and Sinaloa were displayed on screen.

Education Minister Delfina Gómez, however, was going in the opposite direction. The former teacher said she was leaving her post on a high and wished well her replacement, another teacher, Leticia Ramírez Amaya.

Later in the conference, the president provided an education on Mexican history. “The invader, the one who dominates, the one who imposes himself by force, denies the culture of the one who is dominated … after the Spanish invasion, 500 years ago … the culture of the pre-Hispanic peoples was completely repudiated. They were, according to the Europeans, savage peoples … the action of colonization, of evangelization, was to rescue us, to civilize us … that concept was used a lot,” he said.

Tuesday

The challenge, the president confessed, was to “lift the public health system and leave it as one of the best … in the world, that’s the challenge,” before adding a short list of defects to resolve, including “a lack of doctors, specialists, taking on the mafias that sell medicines and taking on everything.”

Deputy Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell reports on plans for the delivery of childrens' vaccine.
Deputy Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell reports on plans for the delivery of children’s vaccine. LopezObrador.org

One reason to be cheerful was offered by Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell. The president recently complained about the failure of the World Health Organization (a specialized agency of the UN) to deliver 10 million shots that had already been paid for, but López-Gatell was on hand to soothe his concerns. López-Gatell said the doses were planned for delivery in three shipments over September and were destined for the arms of young children.

Apparently cheered, the president gave a tall tale to close the conference, involving former President Cárdenas, who nationalized petroleum in 1938. The companies, at the time, “didn’t want the oil to be nationalized. [The president] invited the bankers to talk to him, national and foreign bankers. They were all sitting and the general … said to them … ‘I’m going to tell you a story.’ Everyone was silent and the general said ‘once there were some bankers who were real thieves, real thieves, real thieves,’ and that was it,” the tabasqueño recounted.

Wednesday

“Good morning … I’m not hoarse anymore!” the president declared, referring to his recently cleared throat.

AMLO highlights a foreign leader's criticism of former president Felipe Calderón.
AMLO highlights a foreign leader’s criticism of former president Felipe Calderón. LopezObrador.org

Further clarity came from the government’s media expert Elizabeth García Vilchis. García called former president Felipe Calderón a liar for claiming a video of sewage on a beach was in Acapulco, when it reality it was in Spain. She added that a journalist was wrong to say that had been “militarization” in Mexico, before quoting a survey saying 80% of citizens would be in favor of an increased military presence.

García confirmed there was no censorship in Mexico, despite the Supreme Court annulling legislation on broadcasting fairness.

Fully recharged, lithium production was on the president’s mind. López Obrador revealed Sonora Governor Alfonso Durazo had been named head of the public company Lithium Mexico and that the director would be “a young man who is finishing his doctorate, I think in Harvard, on environment and renewable energy … it is also to give the opportunity and responsibility to a young man from Sonora, from Hermosillo,” he assured.

It transpired that the man named as “Taddei” is the son of politically influential Sonora super delegate Jorge Taddei.

Thursday

The president skipped the conference to give his fourth annual report in the afternoon. He provided statistics to support security and economic achievements, but distanced himself from the narrow focus of numbers. “In the new economic, moral and social policy that we have applied since the beginning of our government, the technocratic obsession of measuring everything according to growth indicators that do not necessarily reflect social realities has been discarded. We believe that the fundamental thing is not quantitative but qualitative … The ultimate goal of a state is to create the conditions for people to live happily. Economic growth and increases in productivity and competitiveness do not make sense as goals in themselves, but as means to achieve a higher purpose: the general well-being of the population,” he said.

López Obrador advertised the benefits of the government’s infrastructure and welfare programs and said recent arrests in the investigation into the 2014 Ayotzinapa massacre were proof that impunity had ceased.

“Friends … My respect and love for the people has grown even more. I believe with rationality, mysticism and optimism that the fourth transformation of Mexico will triumph … Thank you to the public servants who accompany me and to all Mexicans for participating in this journey, in pursuit of the happiness of the people and the prosperity of the homeland … Long live Mexico! Long live Mexico! Long live Mexico!” the tabasqueño exclaimed.

President López Obrador gives his fourth annual government report from the National Palace.
President López Obrador gives his fourth annual government report from the National Palace. Presidencia de la República

Friday

“Before anything I want to express my energetic condemnation for the failed assassination of the vice president of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner. It was a lamentable, reproachable thing, but at the same time miraculous, because Cristina is OK,” the president said at the start of the conference, the morning after a faulty firearm saved the Argentine political titan.

“A hug for Cristina, a hug for [President] Alberto [Fernández] and for the people of Argentina,” López Obrador extended.

The president had more warm words for a politician with whom he hasn’t always seen eye to eye. “There is trust. I consider him not only my friend, but friend of Mexico … because of what he says of our sovereignty,” he said of U.S. President Joe Biden after an exchange of letters.

“‘I reiterate my deepest respect for you and for the independence and sovereignty of Mexico. I hope we keep in touch,'” the tabasqueño quoted from Biden’s letter. That affection doesn’t appear to have extended to matters of law: the U.S. and Canada recently initiated a legal challenge accusing Mexico of violating the free trade agreement due to its protective energy policies.

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