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President López Obrador at his Monday conference. President López Obrador at his Monday conference. Presidencia de la República

Getting to the city of angels: the week at the morning news conferences

Journalist Julian Assange was mentioned and Los Tigres del Norte were played at the mañaneras

President López Obrador spent last weekend with indigenous groups in Sonora. He got reacquainted with the Guarijíos and Mayos on Friday, caught up with the Yaquis on Saturday and dropped in on the Seris on Sunday. 

Monday

Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez addressed crime in her monthly report. She said federal crimes were at their lowest rate in four years and that homicides had fallen in 33 of the country’s 50 worst municipalities, but conceded that extortion had risen in the first four months of the year.

Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval said it was much safer to be in the armed forces than under previous governments and that 97% of the people in service felt “proud, or very proud,” to represent their institutions.

The president said there was still plenty of time for dialogue with U.S. organizers before the Summit of the Americas on June 6. “At least they’ve acted in a respectful manner. There hasn’t been a total, categorical rejection,” he said, referring to his demand that all Latin American leaders be invited.

López Obrador previously said he won’t attend the Los Angeles summit if any leader doesn’t make the list. On Monday he revealed he still hadn’t received an invitation.

Tuesday

A call for doctors featured early on Tuesday. The head of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), Zoé Robledo, invited medical specialists to apply to newly advertised positions. “Attractive salaries,” were available to “specialist doctors who decide to offer their skills … where it is most necessary, in remote areas, in areas of great marginalization and poverty,” Robledo said, adding there were 13,765 posts.

Health Minister Jorge Varela Alcocer on Tuesday.
Health Minister Jorge Varela Alcocer on at the Tuesday press conference. Presidencia de la República

However, the president said not all unemployed doctors would be willing. “There’s a lot of people in the health sector … who wouldn’t mind going to a hospital in the Lacandon  [Jungle, in Chiapas] or to the Tarahumara [Sierra, in Chihuahua] … but there are others that think that the world is the environment where they grew up and that the rest of the country doesn’t exist,” he said.

Health Minister Jorge Varela Alcocer informed that there are 0.7 specialists per 100,000 people in Mexico, which he said should be 1.2 per 100,000.

The president said his predecessors had failed to maintain the health service and were willfully blind to corruption. “They didn’t talk about [corruption] before … I was one of the forerunners that put that topic in debate … if you do an analysis of speeches from 50 years ago to today you won’t find the word corruption, as if it didn’t exist … it’s a plague that we have to end,” he affirmed.

Elizabeth García Vilchis said a photo of Mexican doctors protesting was a "fake."
Elizabeth García Vilchis said a photo of Mexican doctors protesting was a “fake.” Presidencia de la República

Wednesday

The president recalled the good old days of media before handing over to misinformation expert Elizabeth García Vilchis. “In [the newspaper] Reforma there is not one columnist who is not against us. I think it’s a precondition for writing there. Before, in [the newspaper] El Universal there were columnists of all leanings … the editorial section has really reduced in the participation of independent people, writers and intellectuals,” he said.

García informed that a photo of Mexican doctors complaining about the arrival of Cuban specialists was false and introduced a section called “SélvameDelFake” (“Save me from the fake”), a play on words from “#SélvameDelTren,” the name of a campaign against the Maya Train project. García had one of the campaign’s leaders in her sights: she rubbished a claim by actor Eugenio Derbez that a media company had canceled interviews due to his opposition to the Maya Train.

Later in the conference, the president lamented Tuesday’s mass shooting of 21 people at an elementary school in Texas. “I want to take this opportunity to send my condolences, my pain, to convey my solidarity with the families of the young people who lost their lives yesterday … most of them are of Mexican origin, there is no doubt … all that region of Texas belonged to Mexico. Just look at the surnames, they are children and grandchildren of Mexicans,” he said.

Thursday

The president reiterated his asylum offer to imprisoned investigative journalist Julian Assange on Thursday. The U.K. government is set to announce whether Assange will be extradited to the United States.

“We offer asylum and we are in favor of his release because he is being politically persecuted. It’s shameful that a person who discloses valuable information … everything that the elite carried out in secret … is punished for presenting that information … he should be given his freedom,” he said.

“If he wants, his family, lawyers and friends can have asylum in our country,” the president added.

They would likely be among many arriving to Mexico, López Obrador divulged: “There’s a lot of people who want to come back,” he said, referring to Mexican migrants in the United States, and promised that financial advice would be available to returning migrants. That reminded the president of a song about migration: La Jaula del Oro (the golden cage) by norteño band Los Tigres del Norte was played at the conference.

The president takes questions on Thursday.
The president takes questions on Thursday. Presidencia de la República

Friday

The president was in Culiacán, Sinaloa, on Friday. He said he was delighted to be in the “progressive state, dedicated to food production with good people, working people … we celebrate that Sinaloa has a good governor, Dr. Rubén Rocha Moya … a professional who comes from the leftist struggle,” he said.

Rocha said Sinaloa was producing vast quantities of corn, mango, beans and chickpeas. On violence, he said the state where the Sinaloa Cartel remains powerfulhad seen 61 fewer homicides in annual terms in 2022.

“Is it going to be the Summit of the Americas, or the summit of the friends of America?” the president asked, after representatives from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua were apparently not invited.

López Obrador added that he would wait for a formal response from the United States before making a final decision on whether or not to attend.

However, confrontation, the president reiterated, wasn’t his style. “We didn’t want to put a lot of peoples’ lives at risk … I gave the instruction to stop the operation,” he said, referring to a 2019 operation in Culiacán when the son of jailed cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was caught by security forces, but then released due to the threat of retaliation.

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