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At Monday's press conference, President López Obrador reflected on his weekend tour of several neighboring countries. At Monday's press conference, President López Obrador reflected on his weekend tour of several neighboring countries. Presidencia de la República

Uniting the states of America: the week at the morning press conferences

The president marked Mother's Day, revealed a shiny pistol and quoted Gabriel García Márquez

President López Obrador barely had time to catch his breath last weekend in a lightning tour of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Belize and Cuba over just five days.

Monday

The president praised his Central American and Caribbean hosts on Monday, thanking “the peoples and governments for their respectful treatment. I’d call it affectionate and sweet.” He added that Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Belize were set to benefit from extensions of the Sowing Life tree planting program and the Youths Building the Future apprenticeship scheme.

Tariffs, the tabasqueño said, were to be lifted on meat, fish and agricultural produce from Belize. Another import was set to spike: 500 Cuban doctors were to join Mexican hospitals, the president announced.

The president had particularly warm words for Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who had given him a rather shiny present. “He presented me, in order to return it to Mexicans, a pistol, which is a jewel of history,” he said, and explained that revolutionary and former president Francisco I. Madero had once returned the retro weapon to bandit, fugitive, colonel and revolutionary hero Francisco “Pancho” Villa.

“Cuba has an extraordinary president … An honest, hardworking, human man. A very good person, a good public servant and a good human being,” the president said of Díaz-Canel.

He also reiterated his vision for a union of the nations of America, in the mold of the European Union, and insisted that no government should be excluded from June’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.

Tuesday

López Obrador had a message for moms on Tuesday, as Mexico celebrated Mother’s Day.

“First of all, our most sincere and affectionate, heartfelt congratulations to all the mothers … those who are in our country and those who are abroad … those who are suffering due to their children, due to their disappeared [children]. To those who are sick, or worried about their sick relatives. To the humble, poor women from all communities,” he said and announced a musical performance would close the conference, dedicated to mothers.

The president celebrated a deal between the United States and Venezuela for a U.S. company to extract 1 million barrels of oil per day. “Even if [the deal] was done in the dark … it’s good for Venezuela, it’s good for the United States, it’s good for the world,” he said.

At the end of the Tuesday conference, a jarocho band feted Mexican mothers.
At the end of the Tuesday conference, a jarocho band feted Mexican mothers. Presidencia de la República

However, he added that he’d send the foreign minister to the Summit of the Americas if any nations were not invited.

“Where are the non-invited [nations] from? … Are they from another continent? Are they from another galaxy? From some unknown planet?” the president gibed.

A 25-strong jarocho string band in traditional Veracruz dress, accompanied by dancers, played out the conference, ensuring Mexican mothers felt appreciated.

Wednesday

The president’s fake news point person, Elizabeth García Vilchis, said a video of a woman complaining about environmental damage was from 2019 and was about illegal logging, not the Maya Train. García added that airlines were not being forced to fly from the new Felipe Ángeles Airport, which has had a slow start since its March opening.

On migration, López Obrador commended the financial contribution of Mexican migrants in the United States, but lamented that Cuban migrants weren’t able to provide the same support.

“In the case of Cuba, nothing [can be sent], because there is a law that prohibits them [sending home remittances]. Where is the humanism? What do people have to do with governments? Why sacrifice the people? … they should declare those people, that island, as a heritage of humanity, for their arrogance to feel free,” he insisted.

The president noted that former U.S. President Donald Trump, famed for his hostile foreign policy, extended the summit invitation to all American nations.

Thursday

“With your permission, Mr. President. As you have instructed, this is the ‘zero impunity’ section. There is no crime without punishment. Justice always prevails,” Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía Berdeja confidently assured at the start of Thursday’s conference.

For the sake of context, Mexico was behind only the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Colombia and Myanmar on the Global Organized Crime Index 2021, prepared by a Swiss nongovernmental organization. It was ranked 112th for its resilience to organized crime.

Later in the conference, López Obrador said hostility between American nations was unwarranted. “What’s the threat? Is Cuba going to invade the United States, or will Argentina [invade] or Colombia? What good would it do for the United States to invade Colombia or Venezuela, or Mexico?” he said.

Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía Berdeja presents what he referred to as the "zero impunity" section of the conference, on Thursday.
Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía Berdeja presents what he referred to as the “zero impunity” portion of the conference on Thursday. Presidencia de la República
However, the president added that Mexico’s northern neighbor was no stranger to invasions. “How many times have they landed sailors in the countries of America, and have they created countries? … What they are doing with Cuba is genocide, [Colombian author] Gabriel García Márquez said that,” he said, referring to the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.
At least one U.S. citizen, the tabasqueño insisted, was welcome in Mexico. The head of U.S. investment fund BlackRock, Larry Fink, had visited the president on Wednesday. “He’s a smart person, he studied political science … he’s my age, so he is already doddering, just like me,” he jested.

Friday

AMLO was in Nuevo Léon on Friday, accompanied by 34-year-old Governor Samuel García. “This year we have a record in job creation and foreign direct investment. There’s a line of American, Asian, German and Swiss companies,” García enthused.

A range of crimes including murder had increased in the state, Defense Minister Luis Cresencio added. The president said that before the conference he’d met with the parents of Debanhi Escobar, an 18-year-old woman who was found dead in a motel last month in a case that gained nationwide attention.

International affairs returned for the fifth day running. National Action Party (PAN) Senator Lilly Téllez had said López Obrador “doesn’t want to go to the Summit of the Americas because he feels like a dwarf among giants, while feeling huge among tyrants.”

“It’s a point of pride that she calls me that,” the president responded. On the summit, López Obrador stood firm: “If everyone is invited, it will start a new stage of relations in America and it will be owed to President Biden … if it cannot be changed and some countries are excluded … I will definitely not attend,” he said.

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