By the time the National Palace opened on Monday, a clear picture of Sunday’s mid-term elections had formed. Voters had selected 15 fresh governors and a new House of Deputies in what was widely seen as a referendum on President López Obrador’s political project.
The early count predicted a check on the administration’s momentum. The loss of the two-thirds majority shared with allies in the Chamber of Deputies would be a significant blow, impeding constitutional reform. The race for governors told a different story, where the ruling party Morena looked set to win at least 10 of the 15 available. However, it was bad news for the party in Mexico City, where it braced for big losses.
As for the mañaneras, the electoral silence had ended. Any content — propagandistic or otherwise — was fit for broadcast once again.
The elections were at the top of the political agenda, so the weekly fuel price updates had to wait their turn.
“The people behaved very well,” said the president in school-masterly fashion, assessing conduct at voting booths. “Those who belong to organized crime, in general [behaved] well. Very few acts of violence in those groups,” he added, giving thanks for moderation among otherwise violent criminals.
The electoral silence had ended, allowing the administration to discuss its national infrastructure projects. Each update was accompanied by a spokesperson through video link to confirm all was going swimmingly. Santa Lucía airport, the Dos Bocas refinery in Tabasco, the Maya Train, the Toluca-Mexico City train, the trans-isthmus corridor project and the Lake Texcoco ecological park were all given an airing.
AMLO, as the president is commonly known, showed little concern that a two-thirds majority in the lower house of Congress was out of reach. With admirable agility, he addressed another topic: bad faith reporting in the media.
Still, nothing could spoil his Monday morning pep. “The result is going to favor the transformation of Mexico … so you can imagine how I feel: happy, happy, happy.”
Defeats in Mexico City were owed to the “dirty war,” he said, which was all the more rampant in the capital. “It’s propaganda day and night against us,” he remarked.
Conjecture made an early appearance on Tuesday. The president announced election results would be explained in depth, and offered his reasoning: “Most of the conventional media are inclined toward the conservative party, it is public knowledge,” he claimed.
Vaccine updates followed. Health Minister Jorge Alcocer announced that soon every one in three Mexicans over 20 would be vaccinated. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard was quick on his heels: “Mexico is sixth place this week in millions of doses administered … sixth place,” he said.
Graphics appeared on screen for the president to lay out the election results. Skimming over the House of Deputies result where the ruling party suffered losses, he focused on the governors’ races. “What’s the name of the coalition? … Let’s go for Mexico? Go for Mexico?” asked the president, taking the opportunity to ridicule his rivals and their right-wing coalition, which failed to install a single governor.
The conference closed as it began. AMLO denounced the Wall Street Journal for branding him a “threat to democracy.”
“What objectivity … what professionalism,” he chided.
The great and the good found their way to the National Palace on Wednesday. The ambassadors of Canada and France and the directors of two international train companies attended the conference to sign a contract for the Maya Train in a live broadcast.
Before long, the elections returned to the fore, specifically to disseminate misinformation. “Remember Goebbels … ‘A lie which is repeated many times can become true,’” the president said, employing one of his favorite quotes.
“They still say … that we did really badly [in the elections] … There were elections for governor in 15 states and the movement that I belong to, the movement of the transformation, triumphed in 11,” he related, confidence in check.
Breaking into a swagger, the president took the chance to taunt a political rival. Calling for a toast, he asked Ricardo Anaya, former leader of the National Action Party, for permission to drink a caguama of beer (a 32-ounce bootle) to celebrate his party’s success. (Anaya later granted permission, observing he was enjoying a beer in Mexico City, where the opposition did well, and would have another in Querétaro, where his own party dominated).
Before closing, the president ran short on expletives and appeared to get stuck in a loop, apparently thrilled by the Tuesday meeting with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris. “[The meeting was] great … very beneficial … good meeting … good meeting … so good … very good meeting … it was very good, a very good meeting … it was very good, a very good meeting … she’s an extraordinary woman,” he said.
First, the president commemorated the 50-year anniversary of El Halconazo, when nearly 120 student protesters were killed by the military in Mexico City.
Then, to the floor. Reacting to an unrelated question, the president set off on a tangent. A meme of a map showing Mexico City, divided by its voting preference, had caught his eye. In the west of the capital the opposing coalition had taken control, while Morena held strong in the east.
The western neighborhoods were labelled “those that pay taxes” and in the east “those that receive welfare.”
“[Here is] the prejudice of a very conservative and racist class,” the president concluded, incorrectly blaming his least favorite newspaper, Reforma, for its publication.
The subject of violence was raised. Can we call Guanajuato a failed state? one journalist asked.
“We are fighting for peace and tranquility in the whole country, but it’s a long, complex process,” reflected the president, without naming any specific strategies. One city in Guanajuato was reported as the most dangerous in the world last year and another came fifth.
The conference was short on Friday as the president had a flight to catch. Due to his particularly talkative mood, only one journalist managed to pose questions.
A success of sorts was announced: the seventh and final body had been retrieved from the collapsed mine in Múzquiz, Coahuila.
The chosen journalist pressed hard on behalf of the miners’ families for details about the mine’s contract holder and whether a national protocol for mining disasters would be implemented.
“You will see everything, everything … we are working constantly,” the president said, turning to blame his “corrupt” predecessors.
Before closing for the weekend, AMLO showed his selective side and excused his friend Alberto Fernández, the president of Argentina, for his controversial observations on Latin American ancestry.
“The Mexicans came from the Indians, the Brazilians came from the jungle, but we Argentinians came on boats, and those boats came from Europe,” Fernández had said.
“He committed an error in expression,” the president concluded generously, shortly before heading for the airport.
Mexico News Daily