Thursday, June 20, 2024

Christmas cheer, a referendum rabble: the week at the morning press conferences

Christmas was fast approaching, and the president would spend it at his rural home, where he plans to retire, in Palenque, Chiapas.


Chile was on the top of the president’s mind on Monday. He admitted his “unconcealable” pleasure at left-winger Gabriel Boric’s election victory, which he called “a triumph for democracy.” He said he’d already spoken to the political newcomer.

France was next. Its ambassador to Mexico, Jean-Yves Le Drian, was to receive the Aztec Eagle, the highest award for a foreigner. The ambassador spoke on behalf of the 40,000 French citizens living in Mexico.

“These entrepreneurs, these students, these artists, they’re proud to participate in the construction of tomorrow’s Mexico with you and your fellow citizens. In aeronautics, in transport, in the automotive sector, in the health sector, but also in the cultural sector,” he said.

The president said the countries shared the values of liberty, equality and fraternity, and mentioned the French engineering firm Alstom’s involvement in building the Maya Train. He thanked France for its help returning artifacts to Mexico.

A referendum on whether AMLO should serve the second half of his term was delayed indefinitely by the National Electoral Institute (INE). The Tabascan said the head of the INE wasn’t fit for the job as he’d worked as a journalist for Carmen Aristegui, who herself recently entered the president’s bad books.

He renewed his insistence that migrants could solve labor shortages in the United States and Canada, and invited France’s President Macron to visit Mexico.


In the weekly COVID-19 update, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said 23 people had been infected with the new omicron variant, but none of them suffered severe symptoms.

On economic matters, the president had one eye on China’s growth and urged the United States to catch up for the good of the world. “A hegemony of any country does not suit us, because if there are imbalances you are going to want to solve those disparities with the use of force, with war. We want there to be balance so that there is peace,” he said.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell gives his weekly pandemic update.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell gives his weekly pandemic update.

The Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said the 11 U.S. gun manufacturers who are the object of a legal complaint by the Mexican government knew that the weapons they sold were destined for drug traffickers in Mexico, and did nothing to stop it. “We are going to win our complaint,” he said with confidence.

Monday, the president figured, wasn’t a bad day: there were a relatively low 68 homicides and November was the least violent month since he took office. The Tabascan’s critics, who fear he’ll find power all too comfortable, were offered an assurance: “The mistake that some left wing rulers in Latin America made has consisted in wanting to get reelected,” he said.


The president confirmed that the acquisition of Deer Park, an oil refinery in Texas, had been authorized in the U.S.

Fake news detector Ana García Vilchis said workers at the energy regulator weren’t corrupt, the Economy Ministry hadn’t contracted a food company for a restaurant and public hospitals were not short on drugs.

Later in the conference, Ebrard said up to 2,000 migrants — about a third of them Mexicans — were being returned to the country each day from the U.S. under its “Remain in Mexico” policy. The government, he added, asked the U.S to hear asylum claims it would otherwise ignore.

“About 10% of that flow is people who want to apply for asylum. So, what is being discussed is for them to be given an appointment in court so that they can present their case,” even after they are returned to Mexico, he said.

However, the foreign minister said he couldn’t say when the Remain in Mexico policy would end.

The president was in a festive mood. He’d already received a gift and insisted he wasn’t any scrooge. “They brought me a doll. They say I don’t love Santa. A journalist said I am so anti-foreigner that I don’t like Santa … the truth is I respect Santa, but I have a lot of affection for the wise men.”


Seasonal sentimentality kicked off the conference: “We convey our greetings to all Mexicans, to all the families of our country … so that this Christmas is one of happiness, of harmony, of reconciliation, of love with our loved ones. Also with our friends … One has to know how to forgive and to forgive oneself. Not to hate,” the president said.

Deputy Human Rights Minister Alejandro Encinas threatened the Christmas cheer with an update on missing people. He said there were about 52,000 unidentified bodies in mass graves and forensic laboratories, and added that state governments needed to commit more money to find more, and help identify them.

Deputy Human Rights Minister Alejandro Encinas gave an update on the country's 'forensic crisis' of unidentified bodies.
Deputy Human Rights Minister Alejandro Encinas gave an update on the country’s ‘forensic crisis’ of unidentified bodies.

The Supreme Court decreed that the referendum on whether the president should continue his term could not be delayed. The president expressed his satisfaction with the decision. “That was a very good decision, because it’s democracy … I believe that opposing the revocation of the mandate — the holding of a consultation — to obstruct asking citizens about the behavior of a leader is to act in an undemocratic manner,” he said.

“Well, see you. Happy New Year. Merry Christmas,” the president added, before striding away to attend to the nation.


The president was in his Chiapas home on Friday, leaving early risers to their own devices.

Instead, a Christmas song: part of a festive tune by norteño band Los Tigres del Norte (the tigers of the north).

“… The Christmas of the poor is more beautiful than any,
because God accompanies us under the light of the moon,
because even though there’s no more on the table than a piece of bread,
we know that he was born to fill us with peace,
we know that he always come down when Christmas arrives.

“Christmas, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas,

“For whites, for blacks, for the old, for the young,
for the poor, for the rich,
for all men of good heart who inhabit the world.
That’s why even though I’m poor,
I feel lucky when Christmas Eve arrives,
because I have God by my side,
and though the house is small, the doors become big,
so that everyone who wants to come, can come,
when Christmas arrives.”

Happy Christmas!

Mexico News Daily

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