Thursday, June 13, 2024

Health and foreign affairs: the week at the morning press conferences

President López Obrador has insisted that Mexico’s foreign policy should promote non-intervention and respect and has claimed that his country has positive relations with most of the world’s governments.

However, that hasn’t stopped AMLO being an opinionated leader. Those strong opinions on foreign affairs can’t always be repressed and tend to reveal themselves during the marathon public forums he holds each morning.


Elections for the Pemex union were upcoming, and the president announced that five candidates would give a presentation each day until the end of the week.

The head of the consumer protection agency Profeco, Ricardo Sheffield, gave his weekly update on national prices. Limes, he said, were finally getting cheaper but there was still significant pressure on international gas supplies.

In the video updates on national infrastructure projects, the new Felipe Ángeles airport was confirmed to be at 88% complete and 54 days from completion.

The president had a cardiac catheter fitted on Saturday to monitor his heart. “[The doctors]  gave me permission to apply myself thoroughly, to continue working with intensity,” he said. He added that he’d written a political will in case nature calls time on his presidency to “guarantee the continuation of the transformation process.”

The first five Pemex candidates were given the floor. One woman accused her opponents of treachery, while her rival revealed a Bible and promised to act “under the fear of God.”


Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said the omicron variant had spread widely in Mexico, but that it wasn’t necessarily bad news. “It will eventually cause immunity in a large proportion of people, which could eventually contribute to the end of the epidemic, not only in Mexico, but in the world,” he said.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell gave a pandemic update on Tuesday.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell gave a pandemic update on Tuesday. Presidencia de la República

Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez said that while femicide went down 7% in December in annual terms, rape had increased 30%.

A journalist who previously told the president that she feared for her life was killed in Tijuana on Sunday. The president said neoliberal politics was the culprit for the violence. “The regrettable murders of journalists and the murders of citizens … has to do with the model that they imposed for about 40 years called neoliberalism.”

The Tabascan extended his criticism of neoliberalism beyond Mexican borders: “Most countries are in crisis … protests everywhere, even in the great powers. We are living in times of great tension: the international problem of Russia, Ukraine and the intervention of the United States … What’s happening in Argentina, how the International Monetary Fund is trying to squeeze the people of Argentina who are living in a precarious situation,” he said.


The government’s media analyst, Elizabeth García Vilchis, took her usual place on Wednesday. She assured that 20,000 trees hadn’t been felled to build the Maya Train; rather, trees had been relocated. García added that coordination between business and media was behind a disinformation campaign against the energy reform and that a problem with a batch of Mexican made ventilators was a myth.

She also mentioned that her call to the public to denounce fake news had been answered. “Messages from conscious citizens who denounce false news [have arrived] … times are changing and now the government of Mexico governs with the people.”

García Vilchis refuted that 20,000 trees had been felled to build the Maya Train. In fact, she said, they had been relocated.
García refuted that 20,000 trees had been felled to build the Maya Train. In fact, she said, the trees had been relocated. Presidencia de la República

The president renewed his claim to find a Mexican buyer for Banamex, but assured there was no prejudice at play. “… we do not want to close the country, we are not against foreigners, but it is not possible for profits not to be reinvested in Mexico,” he said.

Later in the conference, AMLO referred to his recommendation for the appointment of historian Pedro Salmerón as the Mexican ambassador to Panama, despite claims of sexual harassment. “If there’s a lawsuit, if there is evidence … how are we going to defend him, we wouldn’t. But [we are not going to change it] just for a media campaign, for a media lynching,” he said.


Questioned on the energy reform, which was recently questioned by the U.S. Energy Secretary, the president insisted he was acting in the interests of the people by nationalizing lithium.

“How would the situation be with lithium? … The Economic Competition Commission has just authorized an operation to be carried out where a mine in Bacanora, Sonora, becomes the property of the Chinese government. Imagine that. We don’t want lithium to be handled by foreign powers, not from the United States, not from China, not from Russia. Lithium belongs to Mexicans,” he said.

He added that the mechanism for the protection of journalists was being reviewed after recent murders.

The president declared his continued support for the deputy health minister, who faces criminal action from families of victims of COVID-19. “It is certainly the product of rancor, hatred and politicking, with all due respect. I know that Dr. Hugo López-Gatell is a responsible professional,” he said.

The Tabascan recommended a film for its political commentary. In the 1990 film Havana, Robert Redford questions political ethics while playing cards. “The difference between you politicians and us poker players is that you always want to win and in poker you have to lose, and then win,” AMLO quoted.


Five more candidates to head the Pemex union would present at the end of the conference and the president offered the voters a lesson in democracy.

“They are going to vote on Monday. I recommend that they do not allow themselves to be manipulated and that they vote freely and secretly,” he said.

The head of the National Electoral Institute (INE), Lorenzo Córdova, attended a National Action Party (PAN) conference, to AMLO’s ire.

“Imagine … the president of the INE, [speaking at a] convention of the PAN, a political party, when it should be an impartial authority … they don’t realize it or they don’t care,” he said.

The president revealed that U.S. investigators were involved in a case in Quintana Roo, where there has been a string of murders. “We are not opposed to coordinated work against crime, but we cannot allow our sovereignty to be violated,” the Tabascan insisted, shortly before striding away to attend to the nation.

Mexico News Daily

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