Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Gaining power and giving it up: the week at the morning press conferences

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the 65th president of Mexico, felt the airs of the Caribbean sea over the weekend, visiting the Maya Train project in Quintana Roo. The state’s economy depends on the tourist pull of Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. However, its attractiveness to foreign visitors is under threat after a recent uptick in gang related murders, some inside luxury hotels. 


The president narrated the selling points of the Maya Train. He thanked construction workers and said the 1,500-kilometer train project was helping to restore ancient cities, before calling out businessman Claudio X. González, and “supposed environmental defenders” for creating legal obstructions to its progress.

On a tangent, AMLO mentioned a scandal about his 40-year-old son’s supposedly lavish lifestyle. He said his son’s wealth was nothing untoward and had some select words for the journalist who broke the story. “In this government my children have no influence, no contract is given to any suggested person … this Mr. Loret de Mola, is a mercenary … and is still at the service of the power mafia.”

On his own corruptibility, the Tabascan explained that power isn’t his priority.

“I am not interested in money, and I am not so attached to power. Power only makes sense and becomes virtuous when it is put at the service of others. Power is humility and power is being able to let go of it [the power] at the right time,” he said.

The president had some words of inspiration for viewers later in the conference.

“When we feel weak … or lack moral strength or are sad, when enthusiasm is lost, let us think of the heritage of those who have fought in other times for freedom, for justice, for democracy, for sovereignty,” the president proclaimed.


The president opened the conference on Tuesday by paying tribute to the former bishop of Ecatepec, Onésimo Cepeda, who died on Monday. The eccentric, wealthy Cepeda was a friend and one time business partner of Carlos Slim.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said COVID-19 cases were down 31%. He added that Mexico had passed the peak of the fourth wave.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell reported that the fourth wave of the coronavirus is on its way out.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell reported that the fourth wave of the coronavirus is on its way out. Presidencia de la República

Ricardo Aldana won the election to lead the Pemex union, replacing Carlos Romero Deschamps who headed the union for 26 years, and lived lavishly. A journalist asked about the 20 billion pesos (almost US $1 billion) sent from union’s accounts to public servants while Aldana was treasurer.

“There was a very good turnout and a free and secret vote was guaranteed,” the president responded, refusing to be drawn into corruption allegations.

However, not all accusations could be batted away. The president had accepted the resignation of the historian he’d put forward as ambassador to Panama after he was accused of sexual harassment. Pedro Salmerón signaled his willingness to withdraw after the Panamanian government asked Mexico not to send a request for his approval to the position.

AMLO derided the negative press about the historian, who he considered to be “a first-rate historian, one of the best in the country.”

“There is no formal complaint [against him] … No more than a lynching campaign,” the president said, and added he’d try to find another position for Salmerón.


Elizabeth García Vilchis refuted several stories that have appeared in Mexican media outlets over the past week.
Elizabeth García refuted several stories that have appeared in Mexican media outlets over the past week. Presidencia de la República

Truth reviewer Elizabeth García Vilchis stood straight for her segment. She said claims the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt) would restrict scholarships for dissenters and pregnant people was misguided; flying from Felipe Ángeles airport won’t be more expensive and warned against fraudsters claiming to be workers from a state bank.

On economic matters, the president had little time for pessimism despite two consecutive contracted quarters, considered by many to be a technical recession.

“There can’t be any recession if in the month of January more jobs were created than in the last 20 years. What recession?” he said.

However, whether economic growth was his aim came into question.

“It may be that because of COVID we have less growth, but there is more equality. Now [resources] are reaching the poor more than before, we are living in a less unequal country than when neoliberal politics were applied,” he said.


The president was in Pachuca, Hidalgo, on Thursday. He said that 80% of households in the state were receiving at least one form of government welfare.

Governor Omar Fayad Meneses said homicides fell 19% in 2021, but lamented a recent gang related killing of six people. However, he pointed to the arrests of two high profile cartel members as evidence of progress.

Later in the conference, President López Obrador celebrated three of Mexico’s former leaders.

I feel that there are three great presidents who still govern by their example: presidents Juárez, Madero and Cárdenas. President Juárez embodies patriotism, Cárdenas represents love of the people and Madero represents democracy, because even though he enjoyed power, he did not have too much attachment to power,” he said.

The example of Madero, he added, should be followed today.

“One of the mistakes of the last progressive left wing governments in Latin America was to think that they didn’t have enough time … time is short … but, no. No to re-election, that’s the most important lesson: no to re-election.”

Tlaxcala Governor Lorena Cuéllar presented at Friday's presidential press conference, which was hosted in her state.
Tlaxcala Governor Lorena Cuéllar presented at Friday’s presidential press conference, which was hosted in her state. Presidencia de la República


The president held the conference in Tlaxcala on Friday. He announced that a deal would be signed for health collaboration between the government of Tlaxcala and the federal government.

The governor, Lorena Cuéllar, said the state was getting safer after kidnappings fell 75%, femicides dropped 71% and human trafficking decreased 83%.

AMLO gave tribute to billionaire businessman Alberto Baillères González, who had died at 90. He was dubbed “the silver king” for his lucrative mining interests.

“We always chatted, we spent time together. He invited me to eat at his house. We talked about the situation in the country, we didn’t always agree, but through the whole time we maintained a relationship of respect,” he said.

The president also gave off some positive signals to the business community.

“We are talking about the loss of one of the most important businessmen in Mexico… we will always maintain support for Mexican businesses,” he said.

The Tabascan had more kind words to offer, this time for the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar.  A journalist quoted Salazar saying energy reform was necessary.

“I really appreciate Ambassador Ken Salazar’s words. President Biden’s administration has been very respectful … muy bien, Ken [very good, Ken],” AMLO replied.

Mexico News Daily

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