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The president speaks at his conference on Tuesday. The president speaks at his conference on Tuesday. Presidencia de la República

Digging holes and getting stuck: the week at the morning news conferences

A journalist issued a plea for help and the fate of 10 trapped miners was followed at the mañaneras

President López Obrador hit six states last weekend to see his cherished Maya Train project. The courts previously suspended construction on one section of track, but bulldozers recently rolled back in after the project was deemed a matter of national security.

Monday

The first journalistic contribution of the week congratulated the government for its ecological efforts near the Maya Train project. The president boasted of reforestation on an industrial scale and celebrated 632 flights at Cancún airport on Saturday alone, before conceding that the tourist mecca’s astounding half-century had taken its environmental toll.

The ruling Morena party’s internal elections were held on the weekend, to elect party officials across 300 districts, which the president called a great democratic exercise: “2.5 million citizens … the participation for an internal election was massive,” he said.

The elections were littered with reports of violence, vote-buying and acarreo, where voters are transported to the polls and told how to vote. However, López Obrador didn’t let a few bad apples spoil his mood. “There were such practices, but in very few booths … I saw that they were repeating and repeating … about fraud and irregularities, but no, it’s nothing compared to what they did,” the president said, passing responsibility over to the opposition.

Shifty elections started in one place, the tabasqueño assured: “They are high flying specialists in fraud,” he said of the National Electoral Institute (INE), an institution slated for reform, which AMLO believes corruptly denied him the presidency in 2006.

Tuesday

“We as Mexicans are at the vanguard, setting an example … inflation in Mexico is lower than in the U.S. and Europe and the peso is strong … our economy is growing. It’s not like that in other countries,” the president assured of the country’s economic credentials on Tuesday.

Scheduled conference speakers wait their turns on Tuesday.
Scheduled conference speakers wait their turns on Tuesday. Presidencia de la República

The press conferences are rarely short on surprises. That propensity was reaffirmed when a journalist held up a sign to the president reading “Please help me. Journalist of the people.” Once she was invited to speak, the journalist accused another reporter, who wasn’t at the conference, of sexual harassment.

The president put the security minister, Rosa Icela Rodríguez, on the case.

Later in the conference, it was back to business: energy, to be precise. The president said he would send a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden outlining Mexico’s right to protect its energy resources after legal proceedings were opened over violations of the USMCA trade agreement. “They must not treat us as a colony … To put it simply, Mexico is not for sale. Mexico belongs to Mexicans,” the president insisted, refusing to divulge the content of his letter. 

Wednesday

Seeker and finder of truth Elizabeth García Vilchis opened the conference on Wednesday with her “Who’s who in the lies of the week” section. “Fear not. Neither rupture, nor departure, nor violation,” she said of the North American USMCA treaty and Mexico’s place in it, adding that the “dignity of Mexico” was at stake and calling a media campaign against the government’s stance an “avalanche.”

García warned of fake social media accounts of the president and public officials, created “to spread hateful messages,” and denied that a journalist who confronted the president at a conference last month had been censured or persecuted.

“No one has persecuted the journalist Reyna Haydee Ramírez,” the president reassured. Ramírez caused a commotion in July when she displayed her scorn for the president and engaged in a verbal spat with another reporter. “When she came [to the conference] she already knew she was going to Spain. I think she already had her tickets,” López Obrador affirmed of the recently relocated Ramírez.

Persecution, the president said later in the conference, was inconceivable in the case of another Spain-based émigré, the former president, Enrique Peña Nieto, who faces money laundering investigations. “Revenge isn’t my strength … [but] we can’t prevent the Attorney General’s office from taking action,” he said, serenely.

Elizabeth García Vilchis presents "Who's who in the lies of the week," on Wednesday.
Elizabeth García Vilchis presents “Who’s who in the lies of the week,” on Wednesday. Presidencia de la República

Thursday

“We haven’t slept, we’re working day and night,” Civil Protection coordinator Laura Velázquez reported from Sabinas, Coahuila, where 10 miners were stuck underground after a mine collapsed.

Asked about U.S. politician Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan — an island of dubious political status, hotly disputed by China — the president revealed his fears for the globe. “First it was the pandemic, then Russia’s war with Ukraine and now these tensions in Taiwan. We all have problems, all of us, due to the lack of economic growth, there is more and more poverty and global inflation,” he bemoaned.

However, in a pragmatic vein, the tabasqueño had some solutions, as well as a few suggestions. “What do we have to do? Promote productive activities, create jobs, serve the poor and seek the cooperation of nations … for development. No to provocations, no to war … Is it not too much to ask the United States, Russia, and China to accept this proposal? … No government in the world … should act irresponsibly,” the president admonished, before praying for the miners’ safe rescue. 

Civil Protection coordinator Laura Velázquez joined the conference remotely to share an update on the effort to rescue a group of miners trapped in Coahuila.
Civil Protection coordinator Laura Velázquez joined the conference remotely to share an update on the effort to rescue a group of miners trapped in Coahuila. Presidencia de la República

Friday 

Velázquez said the 10 miners were still stuck in Sabinas but that a team of 383 were working to extract 5,111 cubic meters of water per day to set them free. “We mustn’t lose hope,” the president said of their rescue.

However, for the Mexican economy, López Obrador said faith alone wouldn’t be enough. “Our currency is strong, it hasn’t been devalued … it fell due to what’s going on in Taiwan, the visit that Mrs. Pelosi did. Hopefully they won’t keep doing those things. It’s important to achieve peace in the world,” he asserted.

Once again, the president was focused on solutions. Having referred back to polling data showing the Indian prime minister to be the most popular leader in the world — AMLO was the world’s second most highly regarded — he offered another proposal to solve the conflict in Europe: a five-year truce. “I would propose three people [to participate in the truce] … the secretary general of the UN [António Guterres], the president of India, Modi … I understand he has good relations with China, Russia and the United States and the third would be Pope Francisco,” he said, shortly before striding away to attend to the nation.

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