Monday, May 20, 2024

Corn class battles, airport opens: the week at the morning press conferences

President López Obrador toured Oaxaca last weekend, a state for which he has a particular soft spot. The fiercely independent area is divided into 570 small municipalities, 418 of which are governed under the indigenous legal  code known as usos y costumbres. Land ownership there is widely distributed.


It was a big day for AMLO on Monday: the morning conference aired from Felipe Ángeles International Airport (AIFA), built to serve Mexico City, which was set for its inauguration. The president said he only took a cool 38 to 40 minutes to get to the airport amid concerns about its transport connections.

Defense Minister Luis Cresencio confirmed a modest opening for the AIFA, with 2,022 passengers on its first day. They’re hoping for an acceleration: the airport’s director, Isidoro Pastor, wants 5 million to pass through the terminal in 2023.

The president, subject to an electoral silence due to an upcoming referendum on his performance, is not allowed to campaign, promote or propagandize. Inaugurating public projects, such as airports, is against the rules, but the president spoke anyway.

“This project was completed despite the resistance of groups with vested interests … those who’d like us to do badly, and see the country do badly,” he said.

However, silence was maintained when the president was asked about a scandalous dispute between his former legal advisor, the former interior minister and the attorney general. On that topic, he kept quiet.

“Mission accomplished,” the president declared, celebrating the AIFA’s completion, shortly before striding away to attend to the nation.


More good news from Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell: the whole republic had gone green on the coronavirus stoplight map.

On World Water Day, the Environment Minister, María Luisa Albores, added more green to another map: she announced Lake Texcoco, the original site of the canceled, semi-constructed airport, as a natural protected area. It was planned and initiated by AMLO’s predecessors and later discarded through a 2018 referendum.

President López Obrador, Environment Minister María Luisa Albores and other public officials visited Texcoco in December of last year, during the planning process of the natural protected area.
President López Obrador, Environment Minister María Luisa Albores and other public officials visited Texcoco in December of last year, during the planning process of the natural protected area. Twitter @alfredodelmazo

Later in the conference, while defending his press conference at the airport’s opening, the president got a bit tongue tied.

“There is political confrontation and there is passion and [people] get angry, because they show what they really are … For example, to illustrate, yesterday we inaugurated the … we did not inaugurate it. The airport was delivered … I did not participate, except as a witness,” the president reassured viewers.

The media had mocked the catering available at the airport on Monday, after a woman was photographed serving tlayudas, a traditional dish found in Oaxaca.

“How little they know about Mexico? … I mean, what do they want? … What’s the name of those sandwiches in the United States?” the president asked.

“Hamburgers,” came the reply.


“The rooster fell asleep on us,” the president quipped, arriving a little behind schedule on Thursday.

Prepped with a pack of “media lies” to refute, federal media expert Elizabeth García Vilchis took the floor. She began with a list of the AIFA’s marvelous features, which weren’t recognized by critics, who she said “refuse to see reality and construct their own post-truth.”

She went through the back catalogues to explain that the AIFA wasn’t over budget, the control tower wasn’t on a tilt, the president didn’t fake a train journey toward the airport and new runways had indeed been built. And in other news, García said the Harley Davidson motorcycle in a photo next to AMLO’s son didn’t belong to him.

The theme of transport continued to the Maya Train: a group of artists had joined a social media campaign protesting the environmental impact of the project.

“When did these artists, pseudo-environmentalists, speak out about the destruction that was going to take place on Lake Texcoco? … Did they say anything during the neoliberal period about governments handing over 60% of the national territory for mining?” the president retorted.

It was back to tlayuda-shaped battle lines later in the conference.

Elizabeth García Vilchis refuted a number of claims in her weekly segment.
Elizabeth García Vilchis refuted a number of claims in her weekly segment. Presidencia de la República

“[Our adversaries] … give off airs of superiority. They believe themselves to be blue-blooded … They don’t know what tlayudas are … it wasn’t even a tlayuda the lady was selling,” the president insisted.

A call from the room confirmed his wisdom: “They were doraditas,” someone said, referring to a similar corn-based snack.

At the close, the tabasqueño displayed his colors. “We’re going for a tlayuda,” he announced.


An update on homicides was first up at Thursday’s conference. Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía Berdeja offered some assurance to hoteliers in Quintana Roo: 10 men and one woman from the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) were detained in Cancún in relation to 13 murders and 28 more people had been arrested in Tulum for organized crime. Another 29 people had also been arrested for the 2019 massacre of a Mormon family in Sonora.

Mejía added that investigations into recent murders of journalists and of the killing of the mayor of narco battleground Aguililla, Michoacán, were at an advanced stage.

Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía Berdeja announced dozens of organized crime-related arrests around the country on Thursday.
Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía Berdeja announced dozens of organized crime-related arrests around the country on Thursday. Presidencia de la República

However, the head of Civil Protection, Laura Velázquez, revealed that pacifying the country was not only a struggle against mankind, but also against Mother Nature. She confirmed the dry weather was back with 33 active forest fires being combated by 1,513 firefighters .

Amid the ecological disaster, the president later reiterated that his Maya Train project would do no damage.

“I’m from a town, I grew up in the countryside. I know what trees are, I love trees. I learned to protect the flora and fauna. We’re not destroyers,” he said.


The president was in Cuernavaca, Morelos, for the last conference of the week. “Our solidarity with the governor of the state of Morelos … this state with such a history of social struggle, the land of General Emiliano Zapata Salazar,” he said, referring to the diminutive revolutionary hero.

Governor Cuauhtémoc Blanco said the firm hand of the law would be applied to corrupt former state officials.

“We don’t forgive or forget,” he warned.

With debates on AMLO’s electricity reform starting in the Chamber of Deputies, U.S. Ambassador Ken Salazar said that active contracts with energy companies should be respected.

“I respect the U.S. ambassador to Mexico very much, I respect his opinion, but we have a position that we are going to defend and the legislators are the ones who are going to decide,” the president responded.

On matters of national sovereignty, the U.S. had more complaints. A military official had claimed Mexico had the most Russian spies of any country in the world.

“We’re not going to Moscow to spy on anyone, we’re not going to Beijing to spy on what they’re doing in China. We’re not going to Washington, not even Los Angeles, we’re not getting into that,” AMLO insisted.

Mexico News Daily

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