Monday, June 24, 2024

Espionage and presidents on trial: the week at the mañaneras

The 65th president of the United States of México has been giving morning news conferences since he took office in 2018. For some, the mañaneras, as they are known, are an essential platform for public information. For others, they are an exercise in propaganda.

Here are the highlights from this week’s conferences.

Monday

The first mañanera of the week was more presentation than conference. Only one journalist was given the opportunity to address the president.

Following the weekly roundups, AMLO, as the president is commonly known, showed the “campaign of manipulation” his administration faced. A clip of an opposition deputy’s voice reverberated: “A disaster … They have to be canceled: the Maya Train, the refinery, the Santa Lucía airport and Sowing Life.”

The deputy on show, Gabriel Ricardo Quadri, took exception, later branding the mañaneras a “narcissistic and cynical instrument of autocratic construction.”

The monthly security report came next.

Top military brass related facts and figures with a sense of ease, in stark contrast to the plague of violence that continues to ravage the country. “99,946 elements have been deployed in 214 regional coordinations,” said one.

The last speaker offered something tangible: homicide rates had fallen 2.9% in annual terms. Fifty percent of killings were concentrated in six states: Guanajuato, Baja California, Jalisco, state of México, Michoacán and Chihuahua.

When the lucky journalist’s chance came, he asked about planes. An old presidential plane had been sold: where did the money go? The president responded by ridiculing commercial space travel and advertising the newer, still for sale presidential plane.

Tuesday

Health officials kicked off Tuesday with their weekly conga, in which a small rise in Covid-19 cases was announced.

AMLO looked ahead to August 1: a referendum will ask whether past heads of state should be investigated for corruption. He summarized the crimes of his predecessors: “Why judge Carlos Salinas? Well, because he gave all the goods of the nation and the people of Mexico to his close friends, it’s that simple.”

Ernesto Zedillo: “Because … he converted the private debts of a few into public debt and we have been paying that debt for 30, 40 years.”

Vicente Fox: “Because he deceived the people … he became president and became a traitor to democracy.”

Felipe Calderón: “He declared war on crime without addressing the causes … massacres were carried out, there were instructions to finish off the wounded.”

Enrique Peña Nieto: “For obvious acts of corruption.”

lopez obrador

Conveniently, a journalist raised a corruption case from the previous administration in which 20 billion pesos had been transferred from state oil company Pemex to its associated union. The union leader’s family lived lavishly thereafter.

But, despite the mire, AMLO’s optimism could not be quashed. He turned a famous Porfirio Díaz quote on its head: “Blessed Mexico, so close to God, and not too far from the United States.”

Wednesday

To the relief of neglected journalists, the whole of Wednesday’s mañanera was dedicated to their questions. However, that didn’t stop the president from addressing their questions as he saw fit.

The head of state announced a new weekly roundup. “We’re going to invite someone from the government to explain the lies of the week. Just like we have the who’s who for [gas and oil] prices on Monday, we are going to have a who’s who on the week’s lies, to combat fake news,” he said.

Later, the president put out a warning. “Power,” he related, “makes intelligent men foolish, and makes foolish men go mad.”

The leader of the world’s 15th largest economy acknowledged that taking responsibility is the antidote.

“We should not get angry, neither you nor us … those in authority have to have patience. The three P’s are required: presence, patience and prudence,” he said.

However, one of those P’s was running thin as he made his exit: “This authority has to go and have his coffee with milk and a cookie … So, see you tomorrow.”

Thursday

It was straight to the floor again on Thursday.

A video had circulated of a transparency agency official hitting two women. The president said he hadn’t seen it, and took the opportunity to rail against the organization in question. “The transparency body … Those are the organizations that should disappear. They cost a lot and they achieve nothing,” he said.

lopez obrador

A matter of great concern to the audience was raised. The government had been accused of spying on columnists who were critical of the government.

“Well, it’s not true … it’s like a choir, everyone agrees to question the government without evidence … False, nothing more than,” was the president’s response.

It was all sour grapes, he said. “The owner of El Financiero received a loan of US $100 million from the development bank, the owner of El Universal also had a loan from the development bank … and what they received in advertising was stratospheric,” he said.

Despite his feisty rhetoric, AMLO said the charge of polarization could not be laid at his door. “Mexico has been polarized for century … A few have a lot, and a lot have little; that’s the polarization that has always existed,” he said.

Friday

“Good morning, afternoon,” began the president, revealing a late start on Friday. The preceding security meeting had run long, he informed.

Lunch might have already been circulating in some journalists’ minds: avocados and seafood were both mentioned early on. Fishermen in Veracruz were still waiting to be compensated for an oil spill a decade earlier, and wanted some fishing restrictions lifted; avocado farmers, tired of criminal incursions, had taken up arms in Michoacán to defend themselves.

International politics were given a rare platform. A journalist said Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega may seek a fourth term after 14 years in power, and that 17 opponents, including five journalists, had been detained.

“We believe that freedoms should be guaranteed and that there should be no repression anywhere, neither in Nicaragua nor in Colombia, nor in any country in the world … nothing by force, everything by reason and law,” the president responded.

“Hopefully in Nicaragua and in Colombia, and in Peru too, everything is resolved peacefully,” he added, alluding to the fragile political situations in the three countries. The Colombian president’s helicopter was shot at later in the day.

In a change to normal proceedings, Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez presented at the close. She gave some good news to kick off the weekend: all adults in Baja California had been fully vaccinated, the first state in the country to achieve the feat.

Mexico News Daily

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