Friday, June 21, 2024

Boosters, awards and 3-state roadshow: the week at the morning press conferences

President López Obrador’s detractors have one claim against him that seems to stick: that he has caused political polarization. His defense of the ninis, a slang term for young adults who neither study nor work, and his disdain for the fifís, a slang term for the bourgeois elite, are an example of the class centered perception which comes naturally to the veteran leftist.

He is adept at batting those criticisms away, by directing a simple label at his opponents: “conservative.”

Monday

The president repeated his schema for improving the country on Monday. The formula identified some of the problems facing Mexico, but was lighter on the solutions: “Mexico’s main problem is corruption, that is the main cause of the economic and social inequality. Due to corruption there is poverty, due to corruption there is violence, and corruption makes the country ungovernable. So, ending the corruption and establishing as a way of life and honesty as a form of government is the project,” he said.

The conference was gifted a number of lengthy speeches from the Tabascan. In one, he highlighted the ubiquitous nature of corruption, but his rather confusing history lesson was a little hard to follow.

For example: “In the 17th century, they burned the palace because there was a criminal complaint by the viceroy against the archbishop,” the president said. “The viceroy accused the archbishop of corruption, and of having a monopoly on food. The archbishop started the process to excommunicate the viceroy, and the viceroy ordered his arrest. The people supported the archbishop and burned the palace.”

Tuesday

Zapopan, Jalisco, was the venue for Tuesday’s conference. Governor Enrique Alfaro said the president’s hands-on approach with state governments was reaping benefits: “We are very pleased to have this work dynamic, unlike before, when a president of Mexico came to visit a state. Then, there were protocols and ceremonial acts, today there are working meetings and the possibility to talk to each other directly, to clarify things and understand where we are.”

Alfaro added that crime in Jalisco has recently ducked under the national average.

Hugo López-Gatell, the deputy health minister, confirmed that the third wave of COVID-19 was still going in the right direction, and that booster shots would go to over 60s first, amid the likely spread of the omicron variant.

The president directed a string of video calls to check up on vaccine progress in Chiapas, Sinaloa, Yucatán and Mexico City, leaving no time for questions from journalists. However, poor signal and lousy connections on the calls did little to inspire confidence.

President López Obrador receives his booster shot.
President López Obrador receives his booster shot. Presidencia de la República

Members of the cabinet and everyone else on stage lined up for their booster shots.

“Good morning. Today you will have your booster of your vaccine. Before we start with the application, have you developed a fever in the last 48 hours?” a nurse asked, before reinforcing their protection against COVID-19.

Wednesday

Nayarit hosted the president on Wednesday, which he hailed as the birthplace of revolutionary hero Esteban Baca Calderón.

Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval confirmed both homicide and kidnapping had increased in the state. However, he added that for both crimes the state was in 21st place.

In the who’s who of lies, a weekly feature where Ana García Vilchis names and shames dubious reporting, the government rejected a claim that public hospitals were demanding vaccine certificates as a prerequisite to providing medical attention.

Vilchis said that such a practice was impossible, as the rules didn’t allow it: “The medical services of the [the Mexican Social Security Institute] are not conditional on presenting a COVID vaccine certificate,” she said.

Later in the conference, the president read a tweet by another Calderón — the ex-president Felipe Calderón — which targeted Vilchis: “Get rid of the girl, the one that doesn’t even know how to read, in her lies of the week section.”

AMLO repeated his plan to bring the health system under federal control and added that former corruption czar Santiago Nieto, who left his post after a lavish wedding in Guatemala, should be investigated for corruption.

Thursday

Journalists were no more than spectators at Thursday’s conference. There was no time for questions from the media as architects and engineers were given priority, and handed awards.

“Any human being enjoys architecture and understands it as the art of having the better quality of living space. It may be emblematic, iconic or social, but the architect in the end will make the quality of the space, the space that is for the human,” said the head of the Association of Architects and Engineers, Ricardo Rodríguez.

The president presents architect Gabriel Chávez de la Mora with his award.
The president presents architect Gabriel Chávez de la Mora with his award. Presidencia de la República

Ninety-two-year-old architect Gabriel Chávez de la Mora received an award for his career building modern places of worship, such as the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

The architect made a plea of the president: “Your government shouldn’t cut budgets, on the contrary it should strengthen them … to ensure the protection, restoration, reconstruction or maintenance of so many buildings of our large cultural heritage.”

Pemex engineer Francisco José Garaicochea, who AMLO described as a “nationalist engineer,” won the other prize.

Oil, the president said, was a matter of national identity.

“Remember the history … A patriotic decision was made in 1938 because oil was being exploited by foreign companies. The foreigners left [hoping] … that the Mexican technicians would not be able to manage the company, and that we were going to go back to them,” the president said.

Friday

Chihuahua city was the president’s third destination of the week, the fourth worst state for homicides, Defense Minister Sandoval confirmed.

The head of the National Guard, Luis Rodríguez Bucio, addressed the migrant trailer crash in Chiapas on Thursday. He confirmed that at least 54 people of the 160 people travelling died and 105 were injured. Rodríguez added that the driver had fled and that the truck didn’t pass through any migration checkpoints, which are dotted all over the border state’s highways.

“We express our pain for these unfortunate, sad facts and send a brotherly embrace to the relatives of those who lost their lives in this accident, that’s the main thing. It hurts a lot when these cases occur,” the president said.

He pointed to poverty as the root cause of migration and seemed to defer responsibility over the northern border to his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden. “We proposed that welfare programs should be urgently applied in Central America … I proposed it to President Biden … I said there were around 300,000 people at risk of migrating in Central America and that action had to be taken immediately,” he said.

However, he conceded that Biden had to face down a “rheumatic elephant” to resolve the problem, a term he favors to refer to bureaucratic barriers.

Mexico News Daily

Have something to say? Paid Subscribers get all access to make & read comments.
Mexican flag

10 ways Mexico has changed in 10 years

1
In celebration of 10 years of Mexico News Daily, staff writer Peter Davies looks at 10 ways Mexico has changed between 2014 and 2024.
Tropical Storm Alberto satellite image

Tropical Storm Alberto makes landfall in Tamaulipas, weakens to depression

0
Alberto made landfall in Mexico in Tamaulipas and was quickly downgraded to a depression, but it's still bringing heavy rains to many states.

Why isn’t there cilantro on my tacos? Skyrocketing prices affect food vendors

3
Cilantro prices in Mexico have quadrupled in some areas in the last month.