Health protocols set to take effect next Monday were ignored by the federal government on Thursday in holding a graduation ceremony for new members of the National Guard.
President López Obrador presided over the Mexico City ceremony attended by some 5,400 people including 2,740 new members of the recently formed security force.
In accordance with the government’s Sana Distancia, or Healthy Distance, scheme, which will take effect on March 23, events that bring together more than 5,000 people should be postponed or canceled. Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said earlier this week that events in the capital with more than 1,000 attendees will be suspended.
At today’s ceremony, approximately 1,000 family members of the graduating guardsmen and guardswomen were seated closely together in temporary grandstands and another 400 packed tightly together in other vantage points.
In violation of another social distancing protocol, López Obrador, other officials and high-ranking military officers shook hands with about 120 National Guard graduates when bestowing awards on them.
The president, who has faced criticism for continuing to hug, kiss and shake hands with his supporters amid the coronavirus pandemic, kept his distance from the majority of ceremony attendees but offered an embrace from afar to the National Guard graduates and their families.
“Although it’s from afar, from a healthy distance, I send a warm hug to the families and to you [the new security force members],” López Obrador said.
He urged the National Guard recruits to resist “unseemly proposals” and “not to fall into corruption.” In exchange, “the government will guarantee you good salaries and benefits,” López Obrador said.
Earlier in his address, the president apologized for arriving at the ceremony an hour and 20 minutes late, explaining “we had matters of certain urgency to deal with – that’s why we were held up.”
The federal government is facing growing criticism for its response to the global coronavirus pandemic that will likely intensify further as the number of cases of Covid-19 increases.
There were 118 confirmed cases of the disease in Mexico as of Wednesday and 314 suspected cases. A 41-year-old México state man died on Wednesday night, becoming the first Covid-19 fatality in the country.
Source: La Jornada (sp)