Friday, June 14, 2024

Betrayal and battery power: the week at the morning press conferences

Lawmakers voted last Sunday on the electricity reform. The proposed constitutional change riled energy company leaders in the United States by promising to give 54% of the power market to the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) and to nationalize future lithium exploration.

However, the president faced an uphill battle to gain the required two-thirds majority, after opposition parties pledged to vote the reform down.


The elephant in the room roamed freely through the report on consumer prices and videos of the government’s projects until, eventually, the president addressed it.

“Yesterday was an act of betrayal to Mexico, committed by a group of legislators who, … instead of defending the public, became outspoken defenders of foreign companies,” he said, after the electricity reform failed to pass in the Chamber of Deputies.

“This isn’t over because we were prepared for betrayal. We knew of the interests that were in question. Very powerful interests,” he added.

The president said that the vote showed the deficits of representative democracy. “If we did a survey, I believe that 80% of Mexicans would be in favor of the electricity industry being in the hands of the nation,” he said.

The tabasqueño quoted French feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir to accuse his opponents of complicity with powerful forces. “The oppressor would not be so strong if he didn’t have accomplices among the oppressed themselves,” he cited.

Later in the conference, the president extended his condolences to one woman who spent much of her life battling authority. Missing persons activist Rosario Ibarra de Piedra, the first woman to run for the presidency, died on Saturday at 95.

Amor y Control (Love and Control), a song by Panamanian salsa artist Rubén Blades closed the conference in tribute to Ibarra.


Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell waits to give the weekly COVID update on Tuesday.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell, right, waits to give the weekly COVID update on Tuesday. Presidencia de la República

After the weekly COVID-19 update, the president claimed that all told, the pandemic had gone well in Mexico. In international terms, “our country was one of the least affected in the American continent and
in the world. This was everyone’s achievement,” he assured.

Mexico’s death rate was the 33rd worst in the world out of more than 200 countries, according to the statistics website Worldometer.

The tabasqueño said the battle over the Maya Train, which had its construction suspended by a judge on environmental grounds, was a class battle. “They feel like they own Mexico … they know the truth … they have the right to privileges, not the people,” he said of the project’s opponents, before recounting a woman’s public snub: “Andrés Manuel, you’re a peasant,” she’d shouted out her car window.

Still nursing his wounds after Sunday’s vote, the president celebrated the Senate’s speedy approval of a law to nationalize lithium. He said the precious metal was powerful enough to topple governments and change the course of history.

“I’m not sure, but there are those who argue that the coup d’état in Bolivia [in 2019] had to do with lithium,” he mentioned as an example. “I can’t say for sure.”


The president highlighted the importance of security on Wednesday. “Security is fundamental so that we can live in peace … without that, nothing is possible. You can advance economically, even socially, but if there is no peace or tranquility, there is no meaning to life,” he said.

Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez said federal crimes in March were at their lowest in seven years and that murders were down 13.5% compared to their historic peak.

Later in the conference, the president referred back to peace and tranquility. “Yesterday was not such a bad day in terms of homicide, there were 56 in the country, but the day before there were 90,” he said.

In the section on media lies, Elizabeth García Vilchis said it was untrue that a National Guard airplane was making trips to Houston, where AMLO’s son lives, and that a photo of timber trading was taken near the Amazon, not near the Maya Train. The 1,525 kilometers of track being laid “protects and strengthens the environment,” she assured.

López Obrador was confident in the harmlessness of the project, and invited two of its opponents, actors Eugenio Derbez and Laisha Wilkins, for a chat at the National Palace. “I’m going to invite them, to see what their doubts are and clarify them. Let’s see if they accept it,” he said.


Thursday's conference featured a presentation on recent national security trends.
Thursday’s conference featured a presentation on recent national security trends. Presidencia de la República

The president confirmed that people could sleep easier. The Colombian drug trafficker known as El Boliqueso (The Cheeseball) had been caught by security forces in Mexico City.

However, AMLO was less impressed with U.S. security forces, confirming that a collaboration with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) had ended more than a year ago, and criticizing its arrest of General Salvador Cienfuegos in 2020. “They made that decision without informing us and they fabricated the crimes,” he said.

The president also addressed criticism he received for calling senators who voted against the electricity reform “traitors,” and defended the label as a fair description. “Things have to be called by their name. Enough of the hypocrisy and agreements in the dark between elites that people don’t know about,” he said.

On appropriate names, the president assured that a new public lithium company wouldn’t be called AMLITIO, a combination of his nickname and the Spanish word for lithium, as some had suggested.


The president headed east to Veracruz city for Friday’s conference. He said he was in the coastal state to remember the U.S. invasion there in 1914 and that he’d join a meeting with U.S. Ambassador Ken Salazar and U.S. and Canadian businesspeople to promote trade.

The body of 18-year-old Debanhi Escobar had been discovered in a motel in Nuevo León 10 days after investigators had searched the property. “We send a hug and our condolences to the relatives of the young woman, to her friends … We believe that, in addition to corruption, what has most damaged Mexico, because they go hand in hand, is impunity,” the president said.

Later in the conference, López Obrador announced that Derbez, Wilkins and other artists who oppose the Maya Train would meet him on Monday. He mentioned that the same artists had posed no objections to the construction of the XCaret tourist park in Quintana Roo.

“Maybe they did not see it, like it just happened overnight …  they drilled through cenotes and underwater rivers,” he said.

The president signed off from another week of conferences by attempting to charm his hosts. “It gives me great pleasure to be here in Veracruz, in my land … My mother was from Tabasco, but my father was from Veracruz … the children of people from Veracruz are from Veracruz,” he asserted.

Mexico News Daily

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