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President López Obrador speaks at his Wednesday press conference. President López Obrador speaks at his Wednesday press conference. Presidencia de la República

Raising eyebrows, crops and wages: the week at the morning press conferences

Rapper Eminem, Mexican journalist Elena Poniatowska and U.S. President Joe Biden all gained mentions

Farming was top of mind for President López Obrador last week. He visited Nuevo León, Veracruz, Jalisco, Puebla and Mexico City to promote the production of staple foods to meet national consumption. He also celebrated Teachers’ Day in the capital, where a healthy raise for Mexico’s 1.18 million educators was announced.

Monday

A focus on self-sufficiency, the president said on Monday, meant fuel costs only went up 0.6% in April compared to 2.1% in the United States. On the flip side, he said food prices rose 3.6% last month, much more than on the other side of the Rio Grande.

The president called for ramped up production of corn, flour, beans and fertilizer. “Without corn there is no country. Everyone go and plant corn and beans. Everyone, everyone, everyone to plant. Toward self sufficiency,” he implored.

On violence, López Obrador reiterated that all lives should be protected, including those of criminals. “I said that everyone’s life has to be protected and that the most important thing is life. They said … it was a slip. But no, that’s how I think … the governor of Texas … makes fun of me … for saying hugs, not bullets. It clashes with his mentality,” he said, before lamenting a mass shooting of mainly African Americans in the U.S. on Sunday.

AMLO confirmed that the organizers of June’s Summit of the Americas would visit on Wednesday. The president has said he won’t attend the event in Los Angeles if any Latin American leader doesn’t receive an invitation.

Tuesday

The conference was broadcast from the capital’s city hall on Tuesday, and the president was welcomed by Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum discusses government social programs at Tuesday's press conference.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum discusses government social programs at Tuesday’s press conference. Presidencia de la República

Sheinbaum said homicides were at a historic low in Mexico City, below two per day, and the defense minister confirmed that all categories of crime were down in the capital.

Sheinbaum added that Line 12 of the Metro, which collapsed killing 26 people in May, 2021, should be back running by November.

Later in the conference, the president offered fierce criticism and cautious optimism of U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to relieve some economic sanctions on Cuba. “We celebrate the advancement … although I would like there to be no blockade because it’s a violation of human rights. That’s a medieval policy,” he said.

On his potential successor, the president said all his deputies were highly valued. “I really love Claudia [Sheinbaum]. And Adán [Augusto] … is my countryman. Marcelo [Ebrard] is doing a first class job,” he said.

“You don’t know how much … I love them,” López Obrador continued, before offering his affections to the health minister, the deputy health minister, the head of the Mexican Social Security Institute, the navy minister, the defense minister and the head of the National Guard.

Wednesday

“It’s important to know how our adversaries lie and slander in their desperation, because they would like to go back to the corrupt regime of injustice and privileges … they miss corruption,” the president said to introduce the weekly section on media misinformation.

In the “Who’s who in the lies of the week” section, truth seeker Ana García Vilchis said a law potentially breaking financial privacy rules predated the current administration and assured that images of AMLO ignoring Cubans while on the Caribbean island was fake. She insisted that 500 Cuban doctors coming to Mexico weren’t going to take the jobs of Mexican practitioners.

AMLO speaks as Ana García Vilchis waits to present her section.
AMLO speaks as Ana García Vilchis waits to present her report. Presidencia de la República

García, a fake news expert, added that the budget for museums wasn’t being cut and clarified that U.S. rapper Eminem hadn’t created a protest song about AMLO.

Following criticism from Mexican doctors, the president said bringing Cuban medics to the country was urgent. “One of the most frequent deaths, especially in rural areas, are heart attacks because there are no cardiologists … I had a heart attack and I was saved because I was in the city, half an hour from a hospital. But if it took me half an hour longer I wouldn’t be here,” he said.

Thursday

Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía Berdeja addressed crime in the “Zero impunity” section on Thursday. He said a cartel leader known as “The Vulture” had been caught in México state and that 66 cartel members in crime-ridden Zacatecas had been arrested, including members of a local criminal group that calls themselves “The Talibans.”

In some cases, big fish weren’t just the perpetrators, but the victims. Mejía confirmed arrests had been made for the illegal trade of totoaba, a large fish species found in the Gulf of California, whose swim bladder is considered a delicacy in China.

After almost US $1.25 billion was committed to teachers on Sunday, the president said the government would be reaching back into the coffers to raise wages for soldiers, navy personnel, police officers, doctors and nurses.

The tabasqueño regretted that he wouldn’t make it to a ceremony dedicated to 90-year-old French-born Mexican journalist Elena Poniatowska. He said Poniatowska was Mexico’s greatest female writer, because she had combined “intellectual work with a love for the people.”

Poniatowska is perhaps most famous for her book Massacre in Mexico, which contains testimonies of the 1968 student massacre in Mexico City, where some 300 people were killed by the armed forces.

Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía gives the week's security report on Thursday.
Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía gives the week’s security report on Thursday. Presidencia de la República

Friday

AMLO was in Ciudad Obregón, Sonora, for the conference on Friday. The city is in Cajeme municipality, a center of Yaqui culture, which is where the president said “the most violence is being endured.”

Governor Alfonso Durazo said 96% of murders in the state were due to narcotrafficking and that 98% of femicide cases had been resolved.

An enthusiastic economy minister, in the shape of Tatiana Clouthier, dropped in by video link from London to report that the government was negotiating a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom.

On violence, the president said his government wasn’t directly to blame for high rates of homicide. “Now crimes don’t have anything to do with authority … before … [The state] was the principal violator of human rights. Now it’s not like that, because that relation of complicity doesn’t exist anymore. We’ve avoided an association between authority and organized crime,” he said.

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