The international non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) has harshly criticized President López Obrador for putting the people of Mexico in “grave danger” with his “reckless disregard” for providing accurate information on the Covid-19 pandemic and failing to lead by example in the practice of social distancing.
The human rights group said in a statement on Thursday that López Obrador is refusing to follow public health advice and failing to provide accurate information about the severity of the disease, which had infected 585 people in Mexico and killed 11 as of Thursday.
HRW noted that AMLO, as the president is widely known, has “directly contradicted” the recommendations of health authorities by encouraging people to go out while officials are asking Mexicans to stay home as much as possible.
“If you can do it and you have the financial means, keep taking your family out to eat, to the restaurants, to the fondas [cheap diners] because that strengthens the family economy and the working class economy,” López Obrador said in a video posted to social media last Sunday.
HRW also criticized the president for continuing to hold rallies and attend events at which he hugs, kisses and shakes hands with supporters despite his own government’s social distancing recommendations.
While López Obrador is now heeding the advice to keep his distance from others, just a week ago he presided over a National Guard graduation ceremony in Mexico City during which he shook hands with more than 100 new guardsmen and guardswomen.
HRW also noted that when the first coronavirus case was detected in Mexico at the end of February, AMLO “blatantly misinformed the Mexican public, saying: ‘according to the information available, it is not terrible or fatal. It is not even as bad as the flu.’”
In addition, the human rights group was critical of the president’s declaration earlier this month that people should continue to hug each other because “nothing will happen.”
José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at HRW, said that López Obrador’s behavior amid the Covid-19 crisis is “a profoundly dangerous example that threatens Mexicans’ health.”
He added that the president has “shown outrageous unwillingness to provide accurate and evidence-based information about the risks of a virus that has already killed thousands of people worldwide.”
López Obrador “needs to take this issue seriously for the sake of the health and lives of the Mexican people,” Vivanco said.
HRW noted that Mexico has some of the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the world, meaning that Covid-19 is an even greater threat to many Mexicans.
In that context, Vivanco said that “leaders should faithfully meet their obligation to ensure people have access to accurate, evidence-based information essential to protecting their health.”
“Failure to do so is not just a violation of the right to health, but will also lead to many preventable deaths.”
Mexico News Daily