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The president answers reporters' questions on Wednesday. The president answers reporters' questions on Wednesday.

Nintendo in the trash, too much global cash: the week at AMLO’s press conferences

Pope Francis, John Kerry and the (conservative) concept of race were among the topics of the week

Unfortunately for his critics, President Lopez Obrador is difficult politician to pigeon-hole. As mayor of Mexico City he created pension plans and invested in education: so far, so left. However, he also partnered with Latin America’s richest man, Carlos Slim, to gentrify much of the capital’s downtown with private investment.

At the end of his mayoral term, one poll had his approval rating at 84%.

Monday

A compressed conference on Monday. U.S. climate envoy John Kerry was in town and AMLO was destined for his spiritual home Palenque, Chiapas, to show off the tree-planting Sowing Life project. The president has touted it as a solution to Central American poverty and migration.

AMLO said there would be little time for questions, and he was proved right. One journalist may have lost favor among her colleagues for her rather elaborate approach. Corruption was the topic and Sonora, she said, was full of it.

A former governor, Guillermo Padrés, had sent AMLO a letter from jail in 2018. Some months later he was released. Was the Tabascan involved?

“No, because it doesn’t correspond to me, and we are respectful of judicial powers. I don’t establish relationships of complicity,” he replied.

“There is no impunity,” he later affirmed.

Tuesday

The president made a call for any unvaccinated people to get a shot: “Changing opinion is a way of the wise,” he said.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said coronavirus case numbers were lower than they ever were between the first and second waves. He later stated that no one could be prevented from working because they don’t have a vaccination certificate: “In Mexican law there is no justification for this … it is not legal to put conditions on access to work,” he said.

Deputy Health Minister, Hugo Lopez-Gatell reported on the status of the pandemic on Tuesday.
Deputy Health Minister, Hugo Lopez-Gatell reported on the status of the pandemic on Tuesday.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell reported on the status of the pandemic on Tuesday.

The president dug out an article by the director of the newspaper Sin Embargo, Alejandro Páez Varela, which argued that there is indeed anti-AMLO media bias. “[Critical journalists] see a man who does not exist, and they put on their gloves to strike the shadow that their own crooked analysis generates. In my way of seeing things, their contempt for the president clouds their strategies,” he said poetically.

Helpfully, AMLO had the cure for any rancorous critics: “They really should breathe deeply; breathing exercises are great to avoid getting angry, always be calm, calm,” he advised.

A stronger remedy might be in order for ex-president Enrique Peña Nieto, his former foreign minister, Luis Videgaray, and the former leader of the National Action Party, Ricardo Anaya: a journalist said the attorney general was preparing charges against them.

“I don’t have information,” AMLO insisted.

Wednesday

Security officials lined up for the monthly security report. The commander of the National Guard, the navy minister and the defense minister all gave their spiel before - as is customary - Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez offered the juiciest details. Federal crimes were down 23% in annual terms in the first nine months of the year; financial crimes had dropped 20%; homicide was down 3.4%.

The president had another security concern on his mind: the Nintendo; his shorthand for video game consoles and gaming culture. Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía Berdeja recounted a case where teenagers were recruited to work for a cartel through a shooter game. Rodríguez returned with a 10-point plan for parents to guide their teenagers’ playing habits.

Elizabeth García Vilchis was on hand for the media lies of the week, and looked to God for support. Or at least, God’s terrestrial representative: “To the media, I ask that you end the logic of post truth, the disinformation, the defamation, the lies and that perverse fascination with scandal and dirt and that you seek to contribute to human fellowship,” she said, quoting Pope Francis.

In replying to the “fake news” of the week: no one died at the Dos Bocas refinery strikes in Tabasco and no firearms were used; and there would be no sanctions against young people if they fail to register with the tax authority.

Thursday 

Cigarettes, of the electronic variety, were a hot topic on Thursday. AMLO repeated his disagreement with a Supreme Court judgement that called the ban on electronic cigarettes unconstitutional. “We’re going to present a legal initiative to combat this … business can’t be put ahead of the health of the people,” the president affirmed.

AMLO spoke out against electronic cigarettes on Thursday.
AMLO spoke out against electronic cigarettes on Thursday.

He backed the integrity of the attorney general in the case of Emilio Lozoya. The former CEO of Pemex, arrested on corruption charges in 2020, had been photographed in a fancy restaurant in Mexico City. Last year, AMLO had said Lozoya was a collaborating witness, but said Thursday that no plea deal had been struck to keep him out of jail.

AMLO spoke out against electronic cigarettes on Thursday.

Friday

Race, the president said, was a concept that should be discarded on scientific grounds: “It is proven scientifically that there are no races. There are only cultures. If there are no races, how are you going to be racist? It is absurd. It has to do with this conservative thinking of seeking to be superior,” he said.

However, the 67-year-old was in no mood for a fight. He’d picked up an injury while engaged in his favorite pastime. “I hit a run, and I came back to bat for the second time … and I tore something … I kept batting … but then I got to first base and I couldn’t continue … in these cases ice and rest is recommended,” he said.

Inflation, which a journalist said was at 6.12%, wasn’t going to cause damage, AMLO assured.  The president attributed it to two factors: productivity dropped globally, causing prices to rise, and the United States’ mammoth stimulus package that had “heated up the economy” and created more demand than supply could satisfy.

As ever, time was short, and AMLO had a weekend excursion planned. The mountain region of Guerrero beckoned: 19 poor municipalities in the southern state where the Mixe people reside.

“I’ve got to go, that’s the third call. You’re down for Monday. I give you my word,” he said to a waiting journalist.

Mexico News Daily

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