Saturday, June 22, 2024

US comms and IMF wrongs: the week at the mañaneras

President López Obrador is man of conviction. He has asserted that no other Mexican knows the municipalities of the country as well as he.

He has strong evidence to support the claim: from 2007 to 2009 he visited 2,452 municipalities in the country which, depending on the count, could be the lot.

Never shy of a trip, the 67-year-old AMLO’s weekend had taken him to three states in as many days.

Monday

A change of terrain for the first conference of the week: the desert city of Chihuahua.

Governor Javier Corral confirmed strong progress in the state’s vaccination program, and added that 84% less state money had been used for public relations. But he conceded that homicide was flying high: the third worst in the country.

A journalist put it to the president that 90% of the state’s homicides remained unsolved. “We have to keep advancing, we are achieving it here in Chihuahua little by little,” he replied.

Challenged on the reopening of the U.S. border, the president revealed he would have the U.S. vice president on the phone that day. He said whether the border could be reopened on August 21 would depend on that conversation.

On the media, AMLO said the hardball would continue, while quoting and recalling a national and local musical hero.

“Even though they attack, attack, attack … as my little finger says: ‘no, no, no’ … Juan Gabriel grew up here … a genius, a great songwriter like José Alfredo Jiménez and Armando Manzanero.”

Viewers, journalists and politicians were subsequently treated to the song Déjame Vivir (Let Me Live) by Juan Gabriel and Rocío Dúrcal.

Speakers wait their turn as the president speaks.
Presenters wait their turn as the president speaks.

Tuesday

AMLO’s pandemic point man Hugo López-Gatell was in his Tuesday spot: “Seventy-three million doses applied; 51.4 million adults vaccinated; 57% of the adult population protected.”

Next up was Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard: 3.5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine and up to five million of the AstraZeneca vaccine had been promised by the United States. An in-person meeting was scheduled with U.S. officials for that afternoon.

Ebrard was pressed on the reopening of the U.S. border, but it took the president to concede that August 21 was looking very unlikely. In an aside, AMLO expressed his support for journalist Azucena Uresti who was threatened by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel on Monday: “I utterly condemn these threats. We are going to protect Azucena,” he said.

A journalist pointed out a different kind of conflict: on Friday the health minister had announced Mexico City was red on the stoplight map, but Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum later contradicted him, and said the capital would remain orange.

“It corresponds to the city government … it’s orange and that’s what’s happening,” replied AMLO, before rejecting “authoritarian” measures.

Loose lawmaking was a target for the Tabascan later in the conference. Constitutional changes on presidential immunity and the renewal of the presidential mandate were stuck on the legislative conveyor belt, and AMLO cried foul. “It’s with bad intentions … it’s deliberate … I have to say it like that because a lot of legislators don’t even know about it.”

Wednesday

Ana Elizabeth García Vilchis dealt fake news a firm hand on Wednesday. Contrary to media claims the administration hadn’t financially neglected science centers or Mexico City’s Templo Mayor, and there was no deal between U.S. suppliers and Gas Bienestar. The last one, García declared, was “more phony than a 2,000-peso note.”

Asked about his Monday phone call with Kamala Harris, AMLO explained the border would remain closed largely due to the delta variant of the coronavirus. He added that a joint plan for economic development, security, migration and Central America was in formation, and that President Biden would receive an invite to visit in late September.

AMLO’s book was in the editing stage, he said, and would be on the shelves in 20 days. “It’s going to be called A la mitad del camino (Halfway There) and it has four chapters … the fourth is dedicated to our opponents … you won’t get bored,” he assured.

What did the president make of the International Monetary Fund’s latest recommendations for Mexico? “They don’t dictate the agenda anymore … They haven’t taken responsibility for the recent [financial] crisis in Argentina … In Colombia … they recommended taxes be raised in the middle of a pandemic … the people went out ont0 the streets to protest … we are not going to follow those policies.”

One journalist grappled with the president late in the conference for his treatment of the media. “I don’t question journalists on the street, no, no, no, I really respect them … I’m talking about the big boys, the ones at the top,” the Tabascan affirmed.

Ana Elizabeth García Vilchis presents her weekly press segment, "Who's who in the lies of the week"
Ana Elizabeth García presents her weekly press segment, “Who’s who in the lies of the week.”

Thursday

It was education, education, education on Thursday. In a first announcement, infrastructure for disabled children would receive investment. Deputy Well-being Minister Ariadna Montiel Reyes confirmed the number of children in the category: 852,312.

Education Minister Delfina Gómez declared it was back to school on August 30, and laid out a 10-point plan. The director of National Council for Education Development and the head of the SNTE teachers union both spoke to demonstrate their support.

Wikileaks returned to the table: in a previous conference, AMLO had called for the release of the organization’s leader Julian Assange, who is in prison in the United Kingdom awaiting a court verdict on his extradition to the United States. A journalist said the investigative journalism organization had released reports on the international far right. A group in Mexico called El Yunque, with ties to the Catholic Church, was co-opting young people into paramilitary activities, she said.

“When they’re discovered I think they’ll feel ashamed … It is something prehistoric, it’s a sign of backwardness, which has nothing to do with our times,” replied the president.

Friday

A new project directed to the poorest was announced. The government had decided to clean out the political pantries and give away unused inventory to 70 municipalities in extreme poverty in Guerrero, Oaxaca, Veracruz and Chiapas.

At the Tianguis del Bienestar, or Well-being Market, which will be taken to the communities, clothes, shoes, fabrics, toys and home utensils will be among the goods on offer.

Challenged on the return to classes, the president argued it was essential, and reminded himself of a song. “We have to face adversity, the ways of life are not as I imagine … Why don’t you put on that one?” he said to an assistant, and the Colombian vallenato song Los Caminos de la Vida (the ways of life) was played.

The road beckoned for AMLO: he would visit Jalisco on Friday and Saturday to address security and visit a dam, and travel to Torreón on Sunday to examine a water project.

Before tying up the conference, the president reminded the room of the day’s big issue. “Today is a day, master [poet Carlos] Pellicer would say, like a funeral. Today, August 13, marks the 500th anniversary of the fall of, the taking of, Tenochtitlán,” he said.

Shortly after the conference, he attended the zócalo to give a speech in commemoration of the defeat of the Aztec Empire by invading conquistadors.

Mexico News Daily

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