Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Digging trenches and reciting poetry: the week at the morning news conferences

President López Obrador spent last weekend in Oaxaca and Veracruz, checking up on the damage from Hurricane Agatha, stopping for selfies and examining progress on Coatzacoalcos port.


Food prices were beginning to stabilize, the head of the consumer protection agency Profeco said, following seven months of an inflation rate over 7%.

It wasn’t only prices that concerned the president, but the supply of basic services. “If the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) didn’t exist, as the conservatives want, and private companies … foreign companies, dominated, then would [Spanish energy company] Repsol be interested in restoring [electricity] service to the communities in the Oaxaca Sierra?” AMLO asked, referring to towns that lost power due to Hurricane Agatha.

The president added that the same supply risks applied to internet access, after the government’s acquisition of the company Altán Redes to expand service. “It’s a matter for the state because if we leave it in the hands of private companies … they will seek to … provide internet where the customers are: in the big cities,” he said.

However, not everyone shared the president’s vision for state-provided infrastructure. AMLO showed a video of former presidential candidate Ricardo Anaya, who is in the United States, despite facing corruption charges in Mexico. Anaya is heard saying that López Obrador has “old ideas and doesn’t understand the world,” with respect to his energy policies.

“If we hadn’t started with this change of policy, they would have finished the CFE and Pemex and the country would be in ruin … we’re not going to continue with neoliberal policies,” the president insisted.


Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell speaks at Tuesday's conference.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell speaks at Tuesday’s conference. Presidencia de la República

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell announced children aged 5-11 were next in line for COVID-19 vaccines. He added there were five cases of monkeypox in Mexico, but said the disease was unlikely to spread.

A new hurdle faced the president’s policy plans: opposition parties had announced a “constitutional pause” and pledged that they wouldn’t support any proposed adjustments to the Constitution for the rest of his term. “If they’re not going to legislate … then stop charging [your salaries] … what were they elected for?” the president said, addressing opposition lawmakers.

Challenged on the treatment of the press, López Obrador said that journalists had scarcely had it so good. “We always respect journalists … a journalist who would be good to interview is Carlos Loret de Mola. He’s famous and he’s paid very well. He has an apartment in the most luxurious building in Mexico,” he said, mocking his least favorite reporter with whom he has an ongoing feud.

The president added that criticisms on press freedoms by the European Parliament and the U.S. secretary of state were false, before assuring that the work of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Financial Times, El País, Reforma and El Universal should be taken with a pinch of salt.


Setting the record straight in her capacity as government media monitor, Elizabeth García Vilchis said the National Institute of Health for Well-Being (Insabi) wasn’t hoarding medications and doctors weren’t being forced to pay back a bonus for their work in the COVID-19 pandemic. García also quoted the Latin America head of English bank Barclays, attesting that fuel subsidies had helped to cool inflation and declaring AMLO a man of good faith.

On his energy plans, the president said that next year there would be no need to buy any foreign fuel due to advances with domestic refineries.

A journalist raised complaints of poor treatment of Guatemalan tourists crossing the border, whose vehicles had been impounded, but the president assured Mexican hospitality was alive and well.

Elizabeth García Vilchis presents her Wednesday conference section.
Elizabeth García Vilchis presents her Wednesday conference section. Presidencia de la República

“I can tell you that our Guatemalan and Central American brothers are welcome. We have a very good relationship with the people of Guatemala,” he said, presumably not referring to the thousands of Central Americans detained without trial in migrant detention centers.

To close Wednesday’s conference, López Obrador reached for the poetry drawer and recited, not for the first time, La Calumnia (“The Smear”) by Rubén Dario. The poem says that a diamond, even if muddied, will irrevocably remain a diamond.


Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía clarified that there would be “no crime without punishment” to open his “Zero Impunity” section on law and order. He said 22 people had been arrested in Colima: a massive heist at Manzanillo port earlier this month saw gold, silver, zinc and televisions all go missing.

Mejía added that five people had been arrested for the lynching of a former political consultant in Puebla, before detailing the large shipments of cocaine recently seized by security forces from traffickers.

“It’s an issue for the Attorney General’s Office,” the president responded when asked about audio recordings which allegedly show the leader of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Alejandro “Alito” Moreno, saying that journalists should be spared of death by gunfire, and instead be starved.

“We’re not going to get involved in partisan issues anymore … revenge isn’t my strength,” the president assured.

However, he was more convinced of the fate — if not the name — of another political adversary: the president of the National Electoral Institute (INE). “As is the case with the electoral reform … he’s going to go. What’s his name? … Lorenzo Córdova,” AMLO said, referring to the INE’s leader and his plan to reform the institute, despite the constitutional pause pledged by opposition parties.

Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía shares information about arrests related to the case of a recent heist in Manzanillo, Colima.
Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía shares information about arrests related to the case of a recent heist in Manzanillo, Colima. Presidencia de la República


The president repeated his claim that the war in Ukraine had resulted from failed diplomacy and added that he’d prepared Mexico well for fluctuations in global energy prices by doubling production at domestic oil refineries.

For his upcoming meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden next month, the tabasqueño already had a few topics in mind. He said economic support for Central American countries to help combat the migration crisis was on the agenda, as well as temporary U.S. visas for migrants.

Despite the war, high inflation and incessant violence in Mexico, the president said he was still feeling fit and ready. “Look how much we’ve achieved … I’m even stronger than I was before. I’m in shape, I’m batting over 300,” he said, referring to the baseball batting average considered a mark of high achievement.

“Love and peace” the president declared, to round off another week of mañaneras.

Mexico News Daily

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