President López Obrador advocated free and universal access to vaccines and declared that the poor must be prioritized in the government response to the coronavirus-induced economic crisis, in an address to the G20 leaders’ summit on Saturday.
López Obrador delivered a five-point speech to his fellow G20 leaders at the virtual event, saying that the dual health and economic crises precipitated by the coronavirus pandemic have caused “suffering and calamities” but also provided “important lessons.”
The first lesson learned, he said, is that “health is a fundamental human right that the state has to guarantee, putting the desire to profit to one side.”
Medical care, vaccines and medications must be free and available to all citizens, López Obrador said, noting that 179 countries supported a resolution to that effect that was put forward by Mexico at the United Nations early in the pandemic.
Secondly, “prevention is better than cure,” the president said.
For that reason it is important to promote a healthy diet, he said, recommending that people avoid foods with excessive salt, sugar, fat and chemicals.
“Those most affected by the pandemic have been patients with hypertension, diabetes and obesity,” López Obrador said. “These chronic diseases … are caused by poor diet and a lack of physical exercise and sports.”
In a sermon-like address to leaders including United States President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the president said the third lesson of the pandemic is that the family should be considered “the main institution of social security.”
López Obrador advocated the avoidance of family breakdown and said that senior citizens should not be “abandoned” in nursing homes. As comfortable as they might be, “they will never be a substitute for the love offered by loved ones,” he said.
Fourthly, there should be more confidence in people’s capacity to be responsible, and freedom must be guaranteed in all circumstances.
As the pandemic continues, governments should “abandon the temptation to impose authoritarian measures” such as unreasonable lockdowns and curfews, he said, adding: “Nothing by force, all by persuasion and reason.”
Finally, governments should focus their economic recovery efforts on the poor, López Obrador said.
“The economic rescue should be done from the bottom up. Help the poor first and don’t focus government actions only on allocating public funds to companies and bankrupt financial institutions,” he said.
The president also said that private debt should not be converted into public debt, adding that governments should avoid debt altogether, especially if it is taken on for the benefit of a small number of people and to the detriment of many.
In a second G20 video address on Sunday, López Obrador proposed the elimination of external debt for poor countries in order to give them greater capacity to respond to the coronavirus-induced economic downturn.
“Our proposal consists of … making a reality the commitment to remove sums of debt and debt-servicing to the poor nations of the world,” he said.
The president also urged G20 leaders to “guarantee that middle-income countries can access credit at interest rates equivalent to the current ones in developed countries.”
It was the first time that López Obrador has participated in the annual G20 summit after choosing not to travel to Japan last year because he had more pressing issues at home and didn’t want to be drawn into a “direct confrontation” between the United States and China with respect to their trade war.
He was the only G20 leader absent at last year’s summit. This year’s event was originally planned to be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, but was moved online due to the pandemic.
Source: El Universal (sp)