For Andrés Manuel López Obrador, there is more to his beloved sport béisbol than a bat and a ball. The avid fan, and player, is more concentrated on the ethics of the sport than the score. That, in this writer’s view, is to his advantage: the alternative win-at-all-costs mentality, evangelized by Mexico’s northern neighbor, rather misses the point.
The government has invested heavily to renovate dilapidated stadiums. AMLO has quoted baseball’s favorite son Babe Ruth at his weekly press conferences, and expressed his support for L.A. Dodgers pitcher Julio Urías. Player turned politician Fernando “The Octopus” Remes also gained AMLO’s backing, whom he said “… knows very well that you have to steal the bases, but not the budget.”
Last week the president was injured in a veterans’ game, but that surely won’t deter him for long.
Once formalities were dealt with, i.e. the standing fuel prices and video presentations of infrastructure projects, journalists were given the floor.
On the budget, AMLO offered unlikely praise to Porfirio Díaz, who like many dictators laid train tracks. “My generation traveled by train … Porfirio Díaz linked up almost all the country. The revolution was done by horse and by train,” he said.
The president, who has riled against neoliberal politics on no few occasions, had the International Monetary Fund in his sights. “I don’t believe in their policies. They caused the world’s socio-economic decline, they are responsible for the global [economic] crisis,” he said.
Politics was sidelined later in the conference, in favor of lyrical endeavor. When asked about his plans for the Day of the Dead celebration on November 1, the president offered a poem by Tabascan Carlos Pellicer: “‘Of all the flowers, ladies and gentlemen, it is the purple lily that amazes me the most. The Mexican people have two obsessions: the taste for death and the love of flowers.'” He confirmed he would be taking the holiday off to reflect.
The president said criticisms of his government were welcome, and called for a song: I Always Say What I Think, by Puerto Rican hip-hop group Calle 13.
They had been heading downward for three months, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said, speaking about COVID-19 cases. On Friday, he added, the president would celebrate the vaccination — with at least one shot — of the entire adult population at an event in Campeche city. Mexico City would complete its two-shot vaccination program this week.
Health Minister Jorge Alcocer took to the podium to pay homage to doctors, past and present, for October 23rd’s Day of the Doctor.
What did AMLO make of the Supreme Court’s decision to get rid of pre-trial detention for some financial crimes? Justice, he said, was “still at the service of money, of the powerful … it’s going toward protecting corruption and supporting minorities … I don’t think the court acted well,” he said. “It’s about white collar criminals, [it supposes] posh people can’t go to prison,” he added.
The National Autonomous University (UNAM) was next in line: “They feel offended because I said it became more right wing … they didn’t say anything during the biggest looting in the history of Mexico … it gentrified … social science, political science, sociology, economics, philosophy, law …” the UNAM graduate said.
Young girls were being sold in Guerrero, a journalist posed. “Indigenous peoples have a great reserve of cultural values … There is a very classist and racist tendency to accuse the poor of all evils,” the president responded.
“There are terrible things that the media hides … about prostitution in elite circles,” he added.
The president confirmed he would fly to Mérida, Yucatán, in the evening, and Campeche the following day, to inspect the progress of the Maya Train from a helicopter.
Elizabeth García Vilchis lined up the media lies. The chief police investigator under former president Calderón, Iván Reyes Arzate, had admitted to trafficking in the United States, but few had covered it, García said. Reports on the 2022 budget were riddled with falsehoods, there would be no reduction in funding for NGOs, and writer-historian Enrique Krauze’s tweet about excess mortality in Mexico was intentionally misleading, she added.
The president turned back to his favorite historian later in the conference: “Do you think that I’m surprised that Krauze manipulates a graph, if he dared to tell colossal historical lies? He dared to say that Porfirio Díaz had not ordered the assassination of as many people as other presidents. He forgot the extermination of the Yaquis, 15,000 Yaquis murdered, he forgot the murdered Mayans.”
AMLO extended his thanks to politicians at all levels for passing new fiscal legislation. It means taxes will not rise and paperwork for small business owners will be simplified.
“Another piece of good news,” the Tabascan began. “A newspaper, which is like Reforma, which is called the Financial Times … recognizes that we are in second place, we have a silver medal, the government of Mexico,” he said, referring to the Global Leader Approval Rating Tracker, developed by the data intelligence company Morning Consult.
The source made it all the sweeter for the 67-year-old: “That’s one for the vanity file … our adversaries; those high up, the elites, consider a newspaper like this to be the Bible,” he said.
Mérida, Yucatán, where the conference was held Thursday, is the state with the lowest levels of criminality in the country, AMLO confirmed.
Governor Mauricio Vila Dosal said that video surveillance, better conditions for police and preventative measures for crime had helped the state achieve it.
The electricity reform was the first topic from the floor. A study by the U.S. Department of Energy said the reform would put carbon emissions up 65% and would increase the cost of electricity by 54%, a journalist noted.
“With all respect, they don’t have the information about what’s being done in Mexico … it’s false, it’s false, it doesn’t sound logical, it sounds metallic,” AMLO replied, suggesting that money could be the motive.
In local matters, the president guaranteed that nature would be protected against mega pig farms in the state. It is not clear if it was a pig-by-pig strategy being promoted, given his declaration that called time on the conference: “We need some cochinita pibil [marinated pork] and some panuchos,” he said.
Campeche city was the venue on Friday, home to the Maya ruins at Calakmul. “All of the natural beauty, the art of pre-Hispanic culture, of the Maya world, all of that is Campeche,” the president said.
AMLO then reminded the audience that Pemex would soon move its home to Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, and that the Maya Train was set to serve almost the whole state.
The governors of Quintana Roo and Baja California, Carlos Joaquín and Jaime Bonilla, alongside Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, all spoke to pat one another, and themselves, on the back for the vaccination program. Adults in the country had all been vaccinated with one shot, and with two shots in Mexico City, Sheinbaum confirmed.
Later in the conference, AMLO’s imagination ran back to Calakmul. “[It] is Athens, it is like Egypt. The culture in Calakmul dates back to 300 years before Christ, it dates back 2,300 years … notice how the Mayans in those times were taking care of their art, and they built the new sites, but they protected and covered the ancient ones,” he said.
On retirement, the Tabascan has declared he will rest and dedicate himself to writing from a ranch near the famous Maya ruins in Palenque, Chiapas.
Mexico News Daily