The governor of Colima has slammed the federal government for its response to the coronavirus pandemic and predicted that the Mexican economy will collapse.
In an interview with the newspaper El Universal, Institutional Revolutionary Party Governor José Ignacio Peralta Sánchez charged that the federal government’s response to the pandemic was “poorly designed” and that it has been marked by “erratic decisions.”
He also accused the government of failing to build a consensus with governors and mayors about how to manage the pandemic and noted that its forecasts about when the outbreak would peak have failed.
The “poor decisions” of the government’s coronavirus czar, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell, in managing the pandemic have cost the lives of more than 53,000 people in Mexico, the governor said. (More than 56,000 people have now died due to Covid-19).
Peralta, an economist and academic before becoming governor in 2016, acknowledged that some sectors of the population have not followed the government’s coronavirus advice but apportioned part of the blame to federal authorities, asserting that they failed to educate people properly about how to stop the spread of the virus.
He said that President López Obrador has set a bad example for citizens by (mostly) not using a face mask – the president has been seen wearing one on just a few occasions – claiming that his decision to not cover up “confuses the public a lot.”
The governor added that López-Gatell has had to perform a “political juggling” act to justify why a nationwide mandatory mask policy has not been implemented. (The deputy minister has sent mixed messages about the value of masks, questioning their efficacy earlier in the pandemic before gradually warming to them and promoting their use).
Peralta also took aim at the president for calling on people at the start of the pandemic to continue going out to restaurants when state governors were urging citizens to stay at home. “The differences began from there,” he said.
Mexico’s limited coronavirus testing regime is “another great national tragedy,” the governor charged.
“We don’t have a bigger register of infections and deaths because the application of tests is limited. If there was a mass [testing] application policy, we would have a lot more identified infections and more Covid deaths,” Peralta said, noting that some suspected coronavirus deaths have been attributed to atypical pneumonia.
“We know that an enormous source of infections … are asymptomatic cases but the testing policy in Mexico is not directed to identifying them.”
Asked about the pandemic’s impact on government coffers and the economy, Peralta described the situation as “delicate,” noting that GDP is predicted to fall by as much as 11% this year.
He said the government’s tax revenue will fall due to the slump and as a result state and municipal government’s will be allocated fewer resources.
“What nobody wants to acknowledge is that the problem is just starting. The economy will collapse, … the scenarios going forward are worse than the ones we are going through at the moment. We have to anticipate that in order to prepare,” Peralta said.
The governor said that the performance of the economy next year will depend heavily on the availability of a coronavirus vaccine.
“Above all,” he added, it will depend on whether there are enough vaccines to carry out a massive immunization program.
“These are questions that are very difficult to answer at the moment; if [the response] is not favorable, the health problem will continue affecting the economy,” with government revenue inevitably falling and unemployment going up,” Peralta said.
An ongoing economic crisis will lead to a “process of destruction of people’s well-being,” he added.
Indeed, the coronavirus-induced economic slump could push an additional 10.7 million people into poverty, the federal government’s social development agency said in May.
Data published in July showed that the economy shrank a record 18.9% between April and June compared to the same period last year as coronavirus restrictions forced the closure of countless nonessential businesses.
All the while, Covid-19 cases and deaths have continued to mount: the accumulated case tally passed 520,000 on Sunday – the seventh highest total in the world – despite a low testing rate, and Mexico’s death toll is approaching 57,000, a figure only exceeded by fatalities in the United States and Brazil.
Source: El Universal (sp)