A non-governmental organization has delivered a scathing assessment of President López Obrador and the federal government in a new report, asserting that the former constantly lies to the Mexican people and the latter has achieved few “visible and tangible results” during the more than two years it has been in office.
Signos Vitales (Vital Signs), which describes itself as a nonpartisan civil society body, is highly critical of López Obrador’s propensity to be loose with the truth, especially at his weekday morning press conferences, at which he aims to set the political agenda and delivers blunt rebukes of government critics.
“Truth is one of the most important values in human relationships, and it is also, sadly, one of the most denigrated, groped, and mistreated by the federal government through Mexico’s president,” begins the report, entitled The Value of Truth: A Third of the Way.
(The latter part of the title acknowledges that AMLO, as the president is best known, has completed about a third of his six-year term.)
Signos Vitales (SV) asserts that the president concocts lies, falsehoods and half-truths at his daily mañaneras, as his morning press conferences are known, and presents “nonverifiable data” to back up his claims.
“On average, according to Spin Organization [a political communication firm], the president lies 80 times during each of his morning conferences. In two years, López Obrador is about to duplicate the seemingly unattainable 23,000 lies that The Washington Post accounted for Trump throughout his term,” the report says.
Behind this “professional montage,” according to SV, is “an unquestionable truth: the Mexican government has been unable to give visible and tangible results in various issues that afflict Mexican society.”
The report criticizes the government for its management of the coronavirus pandemic (Mexico’s Covid-19 death toll is the third highest in the world), its failure to resolve medication shortages, its “contempt” of women and the issues they face — such as high levels of gender violence — its lack of action on climate change, its management of the economy (the GDP slumped 8.5% in 2020), its failure to remedy education inequality and its lack of progress on reducing poverty and violence, among a range of other shortcomings.
“… The government lacks policies that truly combat or contain the problems holding back the country’s development,” SV asserts.
The organization — whose executive committee members include former health minister Julio Frenk, María Amparo Casar, president of the organization Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity, and United States-based Mexico expert Duncan Wood — briefly acknowledges “some isolated achievements,” including the increase to the minimum wage and the implementation of the new North American free-trade agreement, the USMCA, but quickly returns to criticizing the president and his government.
López Obrador, “in his ambitious desire to erase any trace of previous governments in the country, has been able to carry out “far-reaching transformations” because the Congress — in which the ruling Morena party has a majority in both houses — has become a “validator for any instruction that comes from the executive,” the report says.
As a result of the Congress acting on the president’s instructions, “key institutions for Mexican democracy have been weakened,” SV says.
“ … This … government is increasingly seen as that of a single man who makes decisions unilaterally without asking anyone for permission,” it adds.
“One of the main indicators that the government moves around the unique vision of the President is the frequency with which it has resorted to issuing decrees [such as one that ordered the military to continue carrying out public security tasks until 2024]. This … makes it possible to implement its government program expeditiously, often illegally, characterized by an intense concentration of powers in the federal executive,” the report says.
“The president has weakened the different institutional counterweights and the capacities they built over the years. The three ways identified [to achieve] this institutional destruction are budget reduction, colonization of the autonomous branches’ governing bodies, and the disappearance or subordination of autonomous institutions to federal government agencies.”
SV also criticizes the government for not improving the situation in Mexico with regard to the right to freedom of speech and the right to information.
“[Press freedom advocacy organization] Article 19 has reported that 17 journalists have been assassinated during the current administration, six of these in 2020,” the report says.
It also notes that the federal government is proposing to incorporate the National Institute for Transparency and Access to Information into the Ministry of Public Administration, a plan criticized by many journalists who say that it would make accessing public information more difficult and pose a threat to their profession.
SV acknowledges that AMLO has put the fight against corruption and impunity at the center of his government’s political agenda but notes that “indicators on the perception of corruption and impunity show the persistence of these evils.”
“… One additional warning sign that has remained for several years is the country’s level of governance. The degree of public insecurity, fractures to the rule of law, levels of impunity, and increasingly tense relationship between the local and federal executives seem to put the Mexican state on the verge of a true governance crisis,” the report says.
“As has been repeated on numerous occasions, insecurity has been considered one of the main concerns of Mexican society during the last 13 years. The significant increase in high-impact crimes committed in the country has maintained its upward trend,” SV says, referring to crimes such as homicides, which reached record levels in 2019 — López Obrador’s first full year in office — and declined by just 0.4% last year despite the pandemic.
“The confrontation between the federal executive and some local [state] executives, which originated due to financial reasons, has been exacerbated by the pandemic’s management and the selective attack on crime.”
In the conclusion to its report, SV — which says that one of its objectives is to “serve as a guiding light that displays the direction that Mexico is taking” — reiterates that the results achieved by the federal government in its first two years in office are “scarce.”
The government’s self-anointed nickname is the “fourth transformation” — a designation that seeks to put the importance of the López Obrador administration on a par with independence from Spain, the Mexican Revolution and 19th-century liberal reforms — but “millions of Mexicans are still waiting to feel improvements in governance, income, energy, environment, security and social needs such as health and education,” the report says.
“… With insufficient and incorrectly designed plans and projects, the country is guided and oriented based on indications that the president may have [come up with] each morning in his press conferences. It seems that President López Obrador governs from communication and not from public action with programs, projects, and accountability,” SV says.
“… It is not acceptable for the government to try to substitute ‘its truth’ for reality, manipulating and spreading false or misleading information, which does not allow society to make adequate and accurate decisions regarding the planning of a better future for each of its members.”
Mexico News Daily