Saturday, June 15, 2024

Declaring Mexico safe: the week at the morning news conferences

Bullets flew, highways were blocked and convenience stores burned on a busy weekend for cartel members. Meanwhile, President López Obrador was in Nuevo León, attending to the water crisis. Attention is required: in Monterrey water has only been running for 6 hours/day since early June.

Monday
“They want us to do badly. They are very desperate and nervous, making propaganda. They use the weekends to manipulate and to distort things … it’s very sensationalist, creating an atmosphere of uncertainty and fear … it was one of the weekends, incredibly, with the fewest homicides. But due to propaganda, the perception is different,” the president assured, after the press focused on cartel chaos on the weekend.

López Obrador said there had only been a relatively modest 196 murders over the weekend and lamented that the 10 trapped miners in Sabinas, Coahuila, on day 12 below ground, had still not been seen, after a rescue attempt was hampered by further flooding.

To ensure their own safety, a journalist had suggested that Mexicans take up arms: the president saw the funny side, allowing himself a chuckle. “Without doubt our adversaries are exaggerating …. There is nothing to fear, we are working and taking care of the people … we must stop dirty propaganda and slander campaigns,” he insisted, and compared the government’s record to the similarly gory security records of his predecessors.

Tuesday

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell revealed that after five consecutive weeks of waning COVID-19 cases, the whole country was green on the coronavirus stoplight risk map. However, yellow might be a more appropriate color for a map of Mexico at present amid a fearsome drought.

Fortunately, the environment was a priority for the president, who said his most important act as leader was withholding mining concessions. López Obrador alleged political collusion with mining magnates in Coahuila, the state where a mine collapsed earlier this month. “The owner of the main mining plant in that region [Coahuila] has … 10 or 20 luxury planes. He lent them to the governor of Coahuila … those same [mining] chiefdoms have objected to mine workers protecting themselves and unionizing, they’ve threaten them,” he insisted.

However, despite obstructions, adversaries and “vultures,” who the president said were trying to gain a political advantage from the mining disaster, he remained confident that Mexico was headed in the right direction. “We are starting the fourth transformation of public life, which is a moral economy. Giving preference to the poor, creating jobs, seeking self-sufficiency, recovering the role of public institutions, rescuing Pemex, the Federal Electricity Commission, education, healthcare. That’s what we’re doing and that’s what we’ll continue to do,” he said.

Wednesday

Fake news connoisseur Elizabeth García Vilchis sorted the rotten from the ripe on Wednesday. “The media assure they tell the truest of truths,” García chided, before saying that conservatives were up in arms that another teacher, Leticia Ramírez, had taken over as Education Minister. She then accused a journalist of being a “racist, conservative and neoliberal,” due to an incorrect report on airline routes.

Elizabeth García
Elizabeth García described one journalist as ‘racist, conservative and neoliberal’ for a report she called incorrect during her weekly media lies session.

García added there had been a “mega campaign to generate a perception of generalized violence and lack of governance,” on the weekend, and paused to provide a long list of journalists and media organizations which took part in the alleged collusion.

Later in the conference, the president backed Ramírez as education minister. “Level of schooling, of education, is not synonymous with levels of culture … she’s an exceptional woman,” he said in a retort to critics of Ramírez, before giving the new minister a welcoming hug and kiss on stage.

As for the president, he was already looking forward to being replaced, and winding down. “Here in the city you walk faster. The countryside is quieter, more relaxed … when I finish, I’m going to retire,” he said. “I’m going to the countryside, to sea level. Living at sea level is better for hypertensive people than living at altitude,” the 68-year-old leader informed.

Thursday

López Obrador lamented the murder of the mayor’s son in Celaya, Guanajuato, – a notoriously violent city – before Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía delivered his “Zero Impunity” section on crime. Mejía said 42 people had been arrested after violence in Baja California, Sinaloa, Jalisco, Guanajuato and Chihuahua. In Michoacán alone, a further 167 people had been put behind bars, Mejía confirmed.

To denounce a different class of criminal, a little seen minister took center stage. A food program appeared to be rotten at the core: Minister of public administration, Roberto Salcedo Aquino, reported on AMLO-era corruption allegations into an Agriculture Ministry program. Since 2019, Salcedo said, 38 criminal complaints had been made due to irregularities at Mexican Food Security (Segalmex).

However, it wasn’t only theft, but favoritism that the president was keen to combat. He highlighted that almost all finance ministers had studied at the same university and pondered how many judges had been privately educated. Despite his concerns, the president later insisted he would keep his distance from the courts: “that is a decision for the judiciary. There are things that don’t seem right to me, but we have to respect the decision,” López Obrador said, after the Tamaulipas governor escaped arrest on money laundering and criminal association charges, due to his immunity from prosecution.

Friday

The president delivered the conference on Friday from Mexico’s northwestern extremity, Tijuana, Baja California.

It was sorry reading in the state’s security briefing by Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval. He said the border state was second for murders, second for kidnapping and first for vehicle theft.

On the national front Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez provided some respite for the president. Icela said crimes were down 29.3% in July compared to when the administration began and that homicide was down 12.8% since the historic maximum in 2018.

The miners in Sabinas, however, appeared to be in grave trouble. The head of Civil Protection, Laura Velázquez, mentioned a geophysical report of the mine and the use of a drone with laser technology, but could offer no word from the 10 men trapped since August 3.

A separate, historic disaster was occupying the president’s mind. Having seen on Thursday the families of the 43 students gone missing from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, in 2014, he insisted justice would be done. “It’s a very sad thing … painful for parents, but we said from the beginning that we were going to speak with the truth no matter how painful it was. The case is not closed, only the report of the commission was released yesterday. The Attorney General’s Office is going to continue … It will be up to the judges and the Judiciary to deliver justice,” he said, displaying great faith in Mexico’s institutions.

Mexico News Daily

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