Monday, June 17, 2024

Earthquake, breakfast with Lula, Ukraine on the mind: the week at the morning press conferences

President López Obrador, an avid talker, is being forced to watch his words. There is an electoral silence in place due to a referendum on whether his six-year term should continue, limiting what he can say in the conferences. The vote takes place on April 10.

In a previous electoral silence, the president controversially insisted on continuing the morning news conferences, agreeing not to promote himself or the government. He maintained that his freedom of speech should not be curtailed.

Monday

A journalist questioned the president on his weekend comments about retiring. AMLO said that he still had the mettle for the job.

“They interpreted that I was already tired, that I could no longer do it … since I became president, [I’ve worked] 16 hours a day,” he said.

President López Obrador highlights his 65% approval rating at Monday's press conference.
President López Obrador highlights his 65% approval rating at Monday’s press conference. Presidencia de la República

He then spared few details about a mass killing in Michoacán, where up to 17 people were forced to leave a wake and shot dead.

“No bodies have been found … there are shell casings, I think some remains, but no bodies … I wish with all my soul that it is not as they are reporting … in some bags there are human body parts.”

Later in the conference, the president confirmed that a plane had arrived in Bucharest, Romania, to rescue Mexicans fleeing from the conflict in Ukraine.

Tuesday

In the pandemic update, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell confirmed that case numbers were down for the fifth consecutive week.

On the massacre in Michoacán, the Deputy Security Minister, Ricardo Mejía Berdeja, said it was likely due to a feud between two members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel: El Pelón (Baldy) and El Toro (The Bull).

Deputy Security Minister, Ricardo Mejía Berdeja explains what was known about the criminals allegedly involved in the massacre in Michoacán.
Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía Berdeja explains what was known about the criminals allegedly involved in the massacre in Michoacán. Presidencia de la República

On Europe, the president said there would be no economic sanctions on Russia and that Twitter was wrong to censor on matters related to the conflict.

“I wish Twitter would clarify this matter, because it is very serious … Since yesterday there are allegations that whoever has a favorable opinion of Russia is removed or a label is put on their account. That is censorship,” he said.

Brazil’s former president, Lula da Silva, was in town. Da Silva left office in 2010 with an 83% approval rating and was later imprisoned for more than a year on corruption charges.

“We’re going to have breakfast … he was the victim of an authoritarian, repressive act … unjustly kept in jail,” AMLO said.

However, the Tabascan added that the government had no qualms with Brazil’s right-wing President Bolsonaro.

Wednesday

Elizabeth García Vilchis revealed the fake news stories that had caught her attention. She said a video of Putin criticizing AMLO was fake and the Russian flag wasn’t being beamed onto buildings in Mexico City (it was the colors of the Dominican Republic’s flag).

“Let’s say no to war, yes to peace, yes to the free movement of content and to the right of reply. No to violence, yes to dialogue,” she added.

On refugees, the president said Mexico was an open house.

“All those who ask us for refuge in our country … will be received, protected and welcomed,” López Obrador said.

He added that he was pleased with U.S. President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday. Biden said the U.S. needed to fix its immigration system, catch human traffickers and review asylum cases faster.

AMLO called again for an economic region “like the European Union of the Americas.” He offered the words of historic German statesman Otto Von Bismarck to support the idea: “A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman of the next generation.”

Elizabeth García Vilchis presents her weekly conference session, "Who's who in the lies of the week."
Elizabeth García Vilchis presents her weekly conference session, “Who’s who in the lies of the week.” Presidencia de la República

Thursday

There was an economic update on Thursday. The cabinet technical minister, Carlos Torres Rosas, said more jobs were created in February than any other month in history and that debt had risen 24% under AMLO, relatively low compared to recent former presidents.

On his breakfast with Lula, the president said they shared common ground on their vision for the Americas.

“Yesterday I talked with Lula about that, how to think not only about the Bolivarian dream of the integration of Latin America and the Caribbean, but of the integration of all the Americas,” López Obrador said.

Bolívar, more elaborately known as Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Ponte Palacios y Blanco, was a Venezuelan military and political leader who led many countries to independence from the Spanish Empire in the 19th century.

A journalist was later forced to abandon a long question when an earthquake siren began to sound.

“Let’s go,” AMLO replied, before the room was evacuated for an earthquake.

Friday

The Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, confirmed that an Air Force plane had returned from the Romania-Ukraine border with 81 relieved passengers: 44 Mexicans, 28 Ukrainians, seven Ecuadorians, one Peruvian, one Australian and a puppy. The president wanted no family to be left behind, Ebrard explained, and that pets were included.

“We strongly condemn the invasion of Ukraine. There’s nothing more to say,” Ebrard added but said there would be no sanctions on Russia unless the U.N. introduced them.

On taxation, the president showed a list of companies that were excused from payment in the two previous administrations. Some of Mexico’s biggest companies featured, including media house Televisa, cement company Cemex and Banamex.

The international companies included car makers General Motors and Volkswagen and the global bank HSBC.

Power, AMLO added, should be distributed widely and consulted the dictionary to clarify his point: “What is an oligarchy? … ‘A system of government in which power is in the hands of a few people who belong to a privileged social class’. Well, that’s not democracy and it’s not what we want for Mexico … That’s how it was before, wasn’t it? Didn’t they amend the Constitution and the laws to benefit a privileged social class and abandon the people?”

“Well, I have to go, goodbye,” the Tabascan declared, shortly before striding away to attend to the nation.

Mexico News Daily

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