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President López Obrador at his Monday press conference. President López Obrador at his Monday press conference. Presidencia de la República

Truck deaths in Texas; thinking like Hitler: the week at the morning news conferences

AMLO addressed tragedy and caused controversy at the mañaneras

President López Obrador, 68 years young, spent the weekend in Guerrero. His attention was turned to the virtual world on Sunday where his 15-year-old son Jesús Ernesto was receiving online abuse and being mocked for his weight. “The problem is with me, not with him. Even in the mafia the family is respected,” AMLO derided.

Monday

Was it time to relieve the attorney general of his duties, a journalist asked López Obrador after the president met with Alejandro Gertz Manero. Gertz has repeatedly been accused of collusion and faces legal action from the president’s former legal counsel. López Obrador said he didn’t raise the topic of damning leaked telephone calls with Gertz and added that he’d requested an acceleration of the investigation into the 43 students who went missing in Iguala, Guerrero, in 2014.

“There is a very good relationship, with regards to the separation of powers. I don’t get involved in matters that correspond to the judiciary, only when it comes to matters that affect the population,” the president insisted.

Later in the conference, the tabasqueño was less restrained in his treatment of jailed former security minister Genaro García Luna, and a certain disfavored U.S. newspaper. He charged that The New York Times previously supported the disgraced minister. “The New York Times [was] talking up García Luna’s wonders … at the time. [Saying] that he was like Batman … such newspapers should offer apologies,” he said.

However, one U.S. citizen was enshrined into the president’s good books. “Today the best Mexican basketball player in history is coming,” he said referring to U.S.-born Juan Toscano-Anderson, who became the first Mexican NBA champion earlier this month. “He has Mexico in his heart, in his blood. He is a son of migrants … we’re very proud of him,” he added.

Tuesday

A sense of sorrow accompanied Tuesday’s conference, as López Obrador addressed the dozens of migrants found dead in a trailer in Texas, many of whom he said were Mexican. “These unfortunate events, which have to do with the poverty and desperation of our Central American brothers, and of Mexicans, happen because there is human trafficking and a lack of controls,” he said, before adding a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House was fixed for July 12.

AMLO plans to discuss immigration issues with U.S. President Joe Biden, he said on Tuesday.
AMLO plans to discuss immigration issues with U.S. President Joe Biden, he said on Tuesday. Presidencia de la República

The president assured immigration would be a central topic of conversation at the meeting. “We’ve been insisting on support for Central America and also on increasing temporary work visas and ordering the migratory flow … there is a reality that they have a hard time accepting, especially because of their dogmas and their anti-immigrant policy,” he said of U.S. politicians.

After all, the president added, the U.S. and Canada are in need of migrants: “They don’t have labor power, there’s no labor force, neither in the United States nor in Canada, for them to grow and produce, and not just consume what is produced in Asia … That is an obvious crisis,” he said, before announcing that his wife, Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller, would accompany him to Washington, D.C., to meet with U.S. First Lady Jill Biden, principally to discuss education.

Wednesday

The president celebrated the first birthday of the “Who’s who in the lies of the week” section, which examines media misinformation. The section, led since its inception by Ana Elizabeth García Vilchis, has dispelled myths, clarified confusion and had its own occasional struggles with truth.

The head of the National Immigration Institute (INM), Francisco Garduño Yáñez, offered some hard facts. He said the driver of the trailer in which dozens of migrants died in Texas had tried to pass as one of the survivors to evade authorities and added the vehicle passed through two migratory checkpoints in the U.S. before it was discovered.

In her festive section, García denied that planes had been arriving at Felipe Ángeles airport from Venezuela full of undocumented migrants and, in light of a scandal, said Pemex was contractually required to provide ice cubes to workers in hot conditions. The fake news expert also pointed to some suspicious activity on Twitter, where one account had abusively retweeted 4.58 times per minute about AMLO’s son.

Thursday

After the murder of two Jesuit priests in Chihuahua on June 20, the president reiterated his respect for Pope Francis, who he called “a true Christian,” but was less impressed by the reaction of others in the church who’d criticized the government’s security strategy. “Those comments that hugs aren’t enough. What do the priests want? For us to solve problems with violence? Are we going to disappear everyone? Are we going to gamble on war?” the president said.

Mexican advertising executive Carlos Alazraki.
Mexican advertising executive Carlos Alazraki.

López Obrador raised another controversy with religious undertones. “Yesterday I said that Mr. Alazraki is Hitlerian,” he said, referring to a Jewish advertising executive who’d suggested malpractice was the best way to defeat the government.

“There may no longer be Hitler, there may no longer be Mussolini, there may no longer be Stalin, there may no longer be Franco, but the fascist, Francoist Nazi ideas, Stalinism, still exist … Mr. Alazraki is a follower of Hitler’s thinking,” the president affirmed.

“The Jewish community in Mexico considered it offensive,” a journalist returned.

“I have very good friends in the Jewish community,” the president rebutted, before showing a video of Alazraki saying that the more propaganda and lies disseminated against the ruling party, the better.

Friday

There was no conference on Friday as the president traveled to his home state Tabasco to open the Dos Bocas refinery, a project that has run up a hefty bill and could end up costing more than double its original US $8 billion estimate. The president has set a goal of making Mexico self-sufficient in fuel by 2023.

Last month, López Obrador indulged his nostalgia talking about his happy childhood in Tabasco. He recounted walking around barefoot and shirtless in the heat, immersing himself in nature and playing baseball. One of his inspirations is the tabasqueño poet Carlos Pellicer who acted as a mentor, and something of a moral guide, early in his career.

Much of Pellicer’s poetry focuses on his home state and his poem “Esto Soy” (What I Am) addresses Tabascan identity:

I was born of Olmecs and Mayans, and Spanish people,

from the mountain and the sea.

….

I am more water than earth

and more fire than heaven.

In my blood sails

the most ancient of Mexico.

 

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