Wednesday, December 6, 2023

The presidential photo no longer hangs in government offices

For almost a hundred years, Mexico’s presidents –  in the form of photographic portraits – have silently gazed down upon officials working in government offices.

At least since Abelardo Rodríguez’s two-year term as interim president from 1932 to 1934, the framed photos have been a constant.

Salinas, Zedillo, Fox, Calderón and Peña Nieto, Mexico’s five most recent presidents, all appeared in the portraits, dressed in suits and ties and sporting the presidential sash.

But the nearly century-long tradition has been broken by President López Obrador.

The president’s social communication team confirmed that he has decided against having his official presidential portrait hung in government offices.

His spokesman, Jesús Ramírez Cuevas, said that while López Obrador is respectful of the power invested in him, he is not interested in promoting his personal image.

Although it breaks a longstanding national tradition, López Obrador’s decision perpetuates a personal one.

While mayor of Mexico City between 2000 and 2005, the leftist also opted not to display his likeness in government offices, choosing instead to hang an image of Benito Juárez along with a quote in which the former president advocates honesty and responsibility for public officials.

As president, however, López Obrador has made one exception to his rule, agreeing to a request from the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) to pose for an official portrait to be hung at Sedena offices.

The image, taken in the National Palace, will be positioned above portraits of other military leaders in recognition of López Obrador’s position as supreme commander of the armed forces.

“It’s a good, professional photo,” said Ramírez, adding that it didn’t cost anything because it was taken by the president’s social communication team.

In contrast, the former federal government spent more than 2 million pesos (US $103,500 at today’s exchange rate) for a photographic session for ex-president Enrique Peña Nieto and to have the images printed and framed.

But López Obrador has made cutting government costs a crusade, implementing a range of austerity measures that have included reducing his salary and that of other officials, traveling on commercial flights and largely eschewing personal security.

He is also putting more than 200 government vehicles up for auction and trying to offload the presidential plane.

“We cannot have a rich government and a poor people,” the president often quips.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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