Monday, June 24, 2024

Empty pockets, gifts all round: the week at the morning news conferences

The United States is set to host its Summit of the Americas on June 6. By the start of last week President López Obrador still hadn’t confirmed whether he would attend, displeased at the absence of invites for Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.


The president kicked off the week with a sporting roundup. He congratulated Sergio “Checo” Pérez for his Formula 1 triumph in Monaco on Sunday and Atlas for defeating Pachuca in the first leg of the Mexican soccer league final. “Also, a hug for Pachuca supporters,” he added, offering consolation to the losers.

On the Summit of the Americas, López Obrador said he was still waiting for an official response to whether all nations are invited, while conceding that U.S. President Joe Biden was preoccupied with the recent mass murder of schoolchildren in Texas.

“I know that he’s under great pressure, but when it comes to deciding between political impact and principles, one must always lean toward principles,” the president said.

At the end of the conference, López Obrador strode off stage, headed for another engagement. He later hosted indigenous people from Jalisco and Nayarit at the National Palace to discuss land and agriculture.


Health Minister Jorge Alcocer reminded viewers and journalists that Tuesday was World No Tobacco Day and announced that the World Health Organization (WHO) would award AMLO with a “special prize” for combating tobacco consumption.

A World Health Organization representative presents President López Obrador with a recognition of his work to combat tobacco comsumption.
A World Health Organization representative presents President López Obrador with a recognition of his work to combat tobacco use. Presidencia de la República

The WHO’s representative in Mexico, Miguel Malo Serrano, attested to the dangers of tobacco which he said “don’t just kill people, but also damage mother nature,” pointing to the use of water and trees by the tobacco industry and companies’ carbon dioxide output. Shortly after, Malo presented the president with a certificate.

López Obrador revealed a vape pen he’d brought to the conference. “It’s worth 300 pesos, it’s consumed in a week … most mothers and fathers don’t know about the damage it causes. It’s a matter of information,” he said, before signing a decree restricting the sale of vape pens and electronic cigarettes for nicotine consumption.

Returning to the topic of damage, the president insisted his flagship Maya Train project was entirely benign after a federal judge partially suspended its construction. “We’re going to comply legally and they won’t be able to stop us. Private interests are not going to impose themselves, they won’t be above the public interest. The interest of the people … This is a political issue of those who don’t want the project to be carried out. They’re pseudo-environmentalists, financed by large companies,” he assured.


The president brought attention to Hurricane Agatha at the start of the conference, which hit Oaxaca on Tuesday.

“Today Oaxaca is in mourning,” Governor Alejandro Murat said through video link, and confirmed the hurricane had killed at least 11 people and left 33 missing. Murat added that a cyclone was likely to arrive later in the week.

Ana Elizabeth García Vilchis took center stage for her fake news roundup. Dispatching untruths with ease, she rejected claims that Pemex property was in disarray and corrected reports the president wanted to stop people smoking in some public places, a motion she clarified instead originated in Congress.

García rejected that gas would hit 40 pesos per liter and confirmed that AMLO and his friend, Argentine President Alberto Fernández, were not planning a rebel meeting in Los Angeles to coincide with the Summit of the Americas.

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

The president dismissed more news as false: the head of the the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Alejandro Moreno Cárdenas, said AMLO previously sent a senator to threaten PRI lawmakers into voting for the failed electricity reform. “It’s not true, I’m not going to discuss it. I never did that. It’s a matter of principles, ideals and morals,” he insisted.

On principles, the tabasqueño said that despite accruing wealth from book sales, money still didn’t matter to him. To evidence his disinterest in dollars and pesos he turned out his trouser pockets to show viewers and journalists they were empty.


In the “Zero Impunity” section Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía Berdeja confirmed the arrest of a suspected violent criminal in Sonora, alias “The Nun.” Mejía added that an unusually named alleged serial rapist, Greek Román ‘N,’ had been arrested in Veracruz.

Celebrations opened the questions from the floor: it was one journalist’s special day. The reporter, who has previously addressed López Obrador as “the first president of the transformation of Mexico,” requested a signed copy of his book. With a scribble, AMLO granted the journalist’s birthday wish.

The president lined up the questions: “Let’s go. One, two, the lady at the back there. Three, four, five and six and seven.”

One of the chosen journalists raised a corruption accusation against former president Vicente Fox.

“We don’t have enemies. Former President Peña Nieto is not my enemy, nor [Felipe] Calderón nor Fox nor [Ernesto] Zedillo nor [Carlos] Salinas. We are adversaries, but I do not consider them my enemies,” the López Obrador responded.

Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía Berdeja awaits his turn to present on Thursday.
Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía Berdeja awaits his turn to present on Thursday. Presidencia de la República

The president’s charitable outlook apparently extended beyond retired politicians. “An elderly lady, a mother, deserves all respect,” he said of the mother of jailed former cartel leader Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, whom he greeted warmly while campaigning in 2020.


Veteran politician Porfirio Muñoz Ledo and former Sinaloa governor Francisco Labastida had both accused the president of being linked to cartels. The tabasqueño was appalled by the suggestion. “It’s really very low, very vulgar all of this … Muñoz Ledo knows me very well and dares to maintain that the government has links with drug trafficking; it’s an unfounded, reckless judgment,” he said.

“If they have evidence, let them present it. Stop slandering … but don’t think I’m worried either, firstly because I’m at peace with my conscience and secondly because it’s false. I do not establish relations of complicity with anyone, that is why I can take on the mafia of power,” the president added.

On the international stage, López Obrador was also ready to battle vested interests. He said that Colombian left wing candidate Gustavo Petro was facing a “dirty war” which he described as “undignified and cowardly.” The Colombian election is set for June 19.

The president added that Petro had joined him and former U.S. President Barack Obama in a club of politicians who’d weathered slander campaigns in their own countries.

Mexico News Daily

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