News
A messenger from Pope Francis relayed an apology at Monday's presidential press conference. A messenger from Pope Francis relayed an apology at Monday's presidential press conference.

Porfirio put right, the pope contrite, feminist spite: this week at AMLO’s press conferences

An Italian policeman, the Yaqui community and a late newspaper editor all found their way into the mañaneras

Political tributes, President López Obrador has said, are not his cup of tea. “I don’t want my name to be used to name any street, I don’t want statues, I don’t want my name to be used to name a school, a hospital. Absolutely nothing,” he stated at a recent conference.

However, the newspaper El Universal has since published a list of places that already pay homage to AMLO: López Obrador Street in Xochimilco, Mexico City; Avenida López Obrador, México state; a neighborhood in Guerrero, an alley in Acapulco, and streets in both Oaxaca and Veracruz.

Cursed by his own fame, the man from Tepetitán, Tabasco, returned with a spring in his step for another week of conferences.

Monday

“Today we commemorate 200 years of our independence,” announced the president. On September 27, 1821, the Mexican rebel army marched into Mexico City’s main square, symbolizing victory over colonial Spain.

President López Obrador presents Italian policeman Roberto Riccardi with an Aztec Eagle, the highest award possible for a foreigner to receive.
President López Obrador presents Italian police officer Roberto Riccardi with an Aztec Eagle, the highest award possible for a foreigner to receive.

Before details were given for the day’s ceremonies, Culture Minister Alejandra Frausto Guerrero stepped forward to deride looters who had taken “illegally extracted” artifacts from Mexico, and taken them overseas: “From December 2018 to today 5,746 artifacts have been repatriated,” she said, and praised the leadership of AMLO’s wife, Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, in the process.

One thousand five hundred works would be put on show for the Grandeur of Mexico exhibition, it was announced, in Mexico City’s Museum of Anthropology and the Iberoamericano Room of the Education Ministry (SEP).

An Aztec Eagle arrived, the title of the highest award that can be bestowed on a foreigner. Italian police officer Roberto Riccardi was in attendance to receive it for his work recovering Mexican artifacts in his native land. An “immense privilege,” he said, before charming his hosts: “I wish Mexico a brighter future, if possible, than its glorious past.”

The historic occasion gained even more gravitas with a message from Pope Francis. “Both my predecessors and myself have asked for forgiveness for personal and social sins, for all actions or omissions that did not contribute to evangelization,” related a messenger. The pontiff’s contrite tone may be enough to placate AMLO, who previously demanded an apology from Spain and the Vatican for crimes of the conquest. The Spanish royal family appears to be in little hurry.

Tuesday

AMLO was on his travels on Tuesday, meaning no morning conference. He undertook a long-planned trip to Sonora to offer an apology, and reparations, to the historically persecuted indigenous Yaqui community. Violence has plagued inYaqui territory in recent months.

At the ceremony in Vícam, a traditional stronghold, indigenous leaders, an anthropologist and the governor all spoke of the plight of the Yaquis and the necessity of political reconciliation, many in their native tongue. “Love is paid with love,” offered Yaqui leader Jesús Patricio Varela.

“From 1876 to 1911, indigenous communities suffered the most brutal repression recorded in the history of Mexico … For the elites of the time during the Porfirio Díaz dictatorship, indigenous peoples were simply an obstacle to the country’s modernization,” AMLO said.

Thousands of Yaquis were killed, deported or sold into slavery during a decades long battle with the dictatorship. “We wish to offer you an apology for state crimes,” the president said.

However, there was more than rhetoric on the table: 2,900 hectares of land were granted to the community with the aim of restoring a total of 20,000 hectares, and 6 billion pesos’ worth of water infrastructure was en route. Drainage and streets would be improved in towns, a new hospital would be built and housing and education would receive fresh funding.

Wednesday

The president revealed more travel plans: Thursday he would go to Morelos to remember revolutionary hero José María Morelos; on the weekend, a tour of Morelos, Puebla, Veracruz and Hidalgo to see hurricane damage and celebrate the military. On Wednesday AMLO would be back home to the capital.

On Tuesday, the president traveled to Sonora to offer an official apology for state crimes to the Yaqui people.
On Tuesday, the president traveled to Sonora to offer an official apology for state crimes to the Yaqui people.

Lie detector Ana García Vilchis readied herself. A “hate campaign” directed against Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller — whom García left unnamed — was tantamount to a “digital lynching,” she said. As for disinformation, the price of LP gas had not increased 94% in Iztapalapa, Mexico City, she confirmed.

What, posed a journalist, did AMLO make of the pro-abortion protests that had injured 37 people in the capital, 27 police officers among them?

The president detected conspiratorial forces behind the trouble: “I would say that it is a new phenomenon that has to do with the beginning of our government, so I even distrust its authenticity … I see these movements as very conservative, very conservative,” he said.

He pointed to Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King as heroes of protest movements, and to Mexican revolutionaries Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez, Leona Vicario, Carmen Serdán and Rosario Ibarra de Piedra as feminist heroines to follow.

Thursday

The editor of the left-wing newspaper La Jornada, Josetxo Zaldua, had passed away, and AMLO extended his condolences. He later added Tlaxcala to his weekend destinations.

A journalist pressed AMLO about the government's decision to censor Ayotzinapa documents at Thursday's press conference.
A journalist pressed AMLO about a decision to censor Ayotzinapa documents at Thursday’s press conference.

Why was information being withheld about the Ayotzinapa investigations, in which 43 students disappeared in 2014? A journalist claimed soldiers’ testimonies had been blacked out on investigation documents.

AMLO dove into a tangent about the investigation. “But they’re blacked out. They can’t be read,” the journalist interjected.

“I don’t know those documents, I know others,” AMLO replied, before warning the journalist not to trust everything she reads in the newspaper El Universal.

The journalist showed her mettle as a battle ensued. “As a journalist, I would like to have access to those documents,” she insisted.

On behalf of Deputy Human Rights Minister Alejandro Encinas, AMLO promised the documents.

Do insults like “the false Messiah” or “the madman from Macuspana” get to the president?

No, the man replied, before reading the insults that had once been leveled at independence hero Miguel Hidalgo: “monster, deviant, false hearted, spiteful … villain, hypocrite … firstborn of Satan, cursed thief … poisonous insect.”

The insults now aimed at the president, he said, were a sign of his success: “This always happens when there is a transformation.”

Friday

“We’re really happy to be here in the state of Morelos,” AMLO opened, speaking from the capital Cuernavaca.

A new piece of legislation to protect the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) had been sent to the Chamber of Deputies. As is his custom, the president took aim at neoliberal politics: “They deliberately wanted [CFE plants] to be ruined, to become scrap so that the entire electric power market would be managed by private companies, especially foreign ones,” he said.

The new law proposes that 54% of the country’s electricity would be produced by the CFE, and 46% by private companies. In addition, lithium mining would be a state monopoly.

The president speaks from Morelos during his Friday morning press conference.
The president speaks from Morelos during his Friday morning press conference.

“We will no longer be subject, as we have been until now, to private companies being the ones that set the prices,” appended Interior Minister Adán Augusto López Hernández.

Ayotzinapa returned to the conference, but this time by AMLO’s volition. Alejandro Encinas read a letter sent to the president of Israel to demand the extradition of the former head of the now defunct Criminal Investigation Agency (AIC), who fled there in 2019: Tomás Zerón de de Lucio. He is accused of sabotaging the original state investigation. Interpol issued a red notice for the former civil servant, but Mexico doesn’t share an extradition treaty with Israel.

The president signed off from another week of conferences with a tribute to the state he was visiting. “It is very pleasant to be in Morelos and I thank the people of Morelos for all their support … love is paid with love,” he said, briefly before striding away to attend to the nation.

Mexico News Daily

Reader forum

The forum is available to logged-in subscribers only.