Thursday, June 20, 2024

New Year and breakfast with Slim: the week at the morning press conferences

There was no extended break for President López Obrador at the end of the year, who has made the morning news conferences a demonstration of his personal resolve. The 68-year-old rarely sits during the long morning meetings and is famed for his expansive responses, which often include history lessons and personal anecdotes.


The president reported a tranquil Christmas over the weekend. “There was peace, there were no serious regrettable events … Christmas Eve and Christmas passed well,” he said.

Later in the conference, he reached for a fishy idiom when criticizing elites for their undemocratic attitudes: “I know you cod, even if you come in disguise,” he said, which means that he can see straight through them.

On the omicron coronavirus variant, the president offered clear assurances. “The information is that infections have not increased and, most importantly, there has been no increase in deaths … If we notice anything strange … we will inform. We have never hidden anything, ever,” he said.

“I’ve got to go,” the president declared, and with reason. He had esteemed company joining him for breakfast: Latin America’s richest man, Mexican telecoms magnate Carlos Slim.


Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell confirmed COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations were still going down.

The head of Pemex, Octavio Romero Oropeza, dropped in to detail the state company’s 10-point plan for energy self-sufficiency, and revealed that gas prices were finally falling. “It’s a real support for the poorest families in the country,” he said.

On elections for the Pemex union, the president stuck to moral guidance, rather than legal. “First, freedom is not requested, it is conquered. Second, fiefdoms only last as long as the people want. Third, what [Miguel] Hidalgo said and [Benito] Juárez repeated a lot: the people who want to be free will be,” he said.

The journalist Joaquín López-Dóriga had criticized the president’s choice of opulent tableware for his breakfast with Carlos Slim. AMLO assured viewers he didn’t choose the tableware and said the Carlos Slim had offered to pay tax on the recent sale of a company. “My respects for the attitude of Carlos Slim and other businessmen, many of whom have behaved very well,” he said.

Speakers wait their turn at Tuesday's press conference.
Speakers wait their turn at Tuesday’s press conference. Presidencia de la República

However, the Tabascan wasn’t getting soft on the rich. “How can I not celebrate the fact that it’s different now? The gentleman at [convenience store] Oxxo paid 10 billion pesos [in tax]. The gentlemen at [supermarket] Walmart 12 billion, and now 28 billion … all this is to strengthen public finances.”


Elizabeth García Vilchis was in festive mood for an end of year “Who’s who in the lies of the week” feature. “We have seen the discontent of the opposition to the fourth transformation, generating disinformation campaigns due to the loss of privileges. Every day they invent something new, but they are such absurd and hilarious things,” she said.

García Vilchis offered some of her highlights: the allegedly wonky control tower at the new Felipe Ángeles airport, the president’s supposedly simulated train journey and the purported price rises linked to the energy reform. She added the most repulsive piece of misreporting was on the death of a worker at a protest in the Dos Bocas refinery in Tabasco.

A journalist had tweeted he was under threat, and named a surprising culprit: “‘If they kill me, you all already know who is responsible. I request that [Jalisco Governor Enrique] Alfaro face proceedings. We’ll meet in international courts, not in those controlled by the mafia,” Ricardo Ravelo wrote.

“This doesn’t mean the governor is guilty … we can’t make summary judgements,” the president responded.

However, when it came to the energy form, he was quicker to pass judgement, and expected high levels of political literacy from young scholars. “The legislators who vote against the electricity reform will have to explain it to their children, because at school they will be singled out. [The other children will say:] ‘Your dad voted for the owner of Oxxo to pay less for electricity than a household.'”


Three wishes for the new year commenced the conference. “One wish is that the pandemic ends. That there is no longer any suffering … and that people don’t keep getting sick … My second wish is that the cultural strength of Mexico keeps getting stronger. It’s what has always saved us from disasters. We can’t forget where we come from and that we are the heirs of great civilizations and that is what gives us strength and identity … And for the third, I hope that there will be fewer poor people,” the president said.

The incoming governor of the Bank of México, Victoria Rodríguez Ceja, was in attendance, in her last days as deputy minister at the Finance Ministry. “I’m honored that Mr. President has considered, nominated and appointed me to this very high office,” she said.

The president said Rodríguez’s first task would be to tackle high inflation. He made a speedy exit shortly after, destined for his residence in Palenque, Chiapas, for the New Year’s celebrations. “A hug for everyone,” he said, before leaving his fellow Tabascan friend, Interior Minister Adán Augusto López, in charge during his absence.


There was no conference on Friday as the president had broken off to usher in the New Year. Perhaps like much of the world, he’ll do so to the eternal lines of Scottish poet, Robert Burns.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Happy New Year!

Mexico News Daily

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