Monday, June 17, 2024

AMLO trapped, Anaya under fire: the week at the president’s press conferences

In an attempt to kick back, President López Obrador had spent the weekend in Palenque, Chiapas. Surrounded by jungle, home to some of the country’s finest Mayan architecture, AMLO has always had a strong connection to the historic site that neighbors his home state of Tabasco.

He has even declared that once his term is up, he will play no further role in politics, and will instead lead a quiet life there on a ranch.

Monday

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t a good weekend,” AMLO conceded. Hurricane Grace had turned deadly and taken 11 lives in Veracruz and Tabasco, while at least five had died after a fire on a Pemex offshore platform in Campeche Bay.

Meanwhile, political rival Ricardo Anaya, the National Action Party’s (PAN) former presidential candidate, had announced Monday he was leaving the country to avoid a date with the Attorney General’s Office, having been accused of corruption.

“He accuses me of pursuing him … and that is a lie,” the president said. The legal accusations against him, he added, were made by people from his own party and the former head of Pemex. He read his response: “I have nothing to do with the persecution that Ricardo Anaya supposes, I have nothing to do with it, revenge is not my strength.”

That wasn’t the only political accusation flying on Monday: the three parties of the opposition, PAN, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) had announced they would go to the Organization of American States (OAS), headquartered in Washington, D.C., to complain about the influence of organized crime in the June 6 election. Was AMLO worried?

“No, no, no, not remotely, no, no. I understand them, they are very desperate.”

Tuesday

Several healthcare workers were given their moment on Tuesday when they were handed a Miguel Hidalgo award for extraordinary service during the pandemic.

Sixty-three percent of people over 18 had been vaccinated, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell informed in his update, and for the third consecutive week COVID-19 cases had fallen.

Chiapas Governor Cruz
Chiapas Governor Cruz fills in for the president Friday in Tuxtla Gutiérrez.

AMLO announced that an International Monetary Fund stimulus package of US $12.5 billion would be used to pay off debt. “These resources are not going to be used for any other activity, but for debt repayment,” he confirmed.

After the conference it was off to Córdoba, Veracruz, to celebrate 200 years since the Treaty of Córdoba, which established Mexican independence from Spain. The president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, would also attend. Then, a meeting in Xalapa was planned to discuss the damage by Hurricane Grace before a flyover inspection of Veracruz, Puebla and Hidalgo.

Wednesday

Xalapa was the venue for Wednesday’s conference. State Governor Cuitláhuac García reported that Hurricane Grace entered Veracruz as a Category 3 hurricane Saturday, with wind speeds of 200 kilometers per hour.

Head of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), Manuel Bartlett, explained that service had been affected at 868,996 homes in the states of Veracruz, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo and San Luis Potosí.

“This is a demonstration of the importance of the CFE,” said AMLO. “Where is [private Spanish energy provider] Iberdrola at a time like this?”

The seemingly unavoidable Ricardo Anaya entered the conference once more. “He made agreements with everyone … with [president] Peña … he felt very powerful and betrayed Peña, that’s the truth,” said the president.

It would be a long way home after the conference. The weather conditions were too volatile to fly, so it was to be a road trip. Luckily, AMLO has often touted the benefits of keeping one’s feet on the ground.

Thursday

Free books headed the conference on Thursday. The 21 for 21 project is the biggest of its kind in the history of Latin America, according to Francisco Ignacio Taibo, head of a state-affiliated publisher.
One hundred thousand copies of 21 history, philosophy, poetry titles and novels would be published and distributed free.

For the fake news report, Ana Elizabeth García took her place on the podium a day later than usual. She confirmed that the infamous Ricardo Anaya was not being persecuted, the dissolution of Natural Disaster Fund (Fonden) had not hurt relief efforts and the Dos Bocas refinery in Tabasco had not flooded, all contrary to media reports.

Girls in Guerrero, posed a journalist, were being sold into marriage, many before reaching sexual fertility.

The president hands out awards to healthcare workers.
The president presents an award to a healthcare worker.

“That is why we are looking for a transformation, which is not only material … but in the well-being of the soul, to encourage a new way of thinking to strengthen cultural, moral and spiritual values,” replied the president, before denying that such practices were down to the indigenous governing code, known in political parlance as usos y costumbres.

In other book-related news, the president’s new work, A la mitad del camino (Halfway There), would be released on the weekend.

Friday

The conference was broadcast from a military base in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, on Friday. However, there was a notable absence: the president had been halted on the road near the venue by members of the CNTE teachers union.

In his absence, Governor Rutilio Cruz Escandón took the reins. Despite the apparent disruption, he detailed the the state’s success in tackling crime: the second lowest rates in the country. Escandón added that 15,000 migrants entering Chiapas had been “rescued” by state authorities.

Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez and Defence Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval played for time, before word of the president arrived about an hour into the conference.

Appearing on screen from inside a vehicle, still wearing a seatbelt, AMLO explained the predicament: “… I was about to arrive … but at the entrance to the barracks a group of teachers from the Chiapas CNTE prevented our entry under the condition that we had to attend to them immediately and resolve their demands,” he said.

“I can’t allow this because the president of Mexico cannot be a hostage of anyone. I can’t yield to any vested interest group so I decided to stay here. I’m not going to enter by force,” he added.

Nonetheless, the president insisted that his planned tour of Chiapas was not going to be curtailed. The afternoon would take him to San Cristóbal, and then on to Comitán. On Saturday he would travel to the Guatemalan border at Motozintla, Huixtla and Tapachula, before heading back to Mexico City on Sunday.

He extended a familiar and apt phrase before signing off. “Juárez said: ‘Nothing by force, everything by reason and law.’ An affectionate hug to everyone.”

Mexico News Daily

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