Friday, June 14, 2024

War in Europe and a tour of the palace: the week at the morning press conferences

Itchy feet AMLO, known more formally as President López Obrador, was in four states in as many days on a long weekend tour. He presented the morning press conferences from Baja California and Chihuahua on Thursday and Friday before heading to Coahuila for Armed Forces Day on Saturday and then down to a notoriously violent part of Guerrero on Sunday. He awoke to the splendor of Mexico City’s National Palace on Monday.


Security Minister Rosa Icela Rodríguez was in place for the monthly security update. She said federal crimes were down more than 41% in January compared to when the administration started, the lowest they had been in seven years.

She added that January recorded the lowest number of homicides for any month in five years, 14.4% lower in annual terms.

Her deputy, Ricardo Mejía Berdeja, listed some recent high profile catches. Among them were Don Carlos in Jalisco, El Pitufo (The Smurf) in Querétaro, El Johnny in Mexico City, El Tartas (Cakes) in Zacatecas and last but not least, a human trafficker known as the Mujer Maravilla (Wonder Woman).

Later in the conference, a journalist informed the president of the investigation into his son, José Ramón López Beltrán, who is living a not entirely austere lifestyle in Texas.

AMLO took the news lightly. “I have no information … but in the event that the investigation is opened, there’s no problem. We all have to be subject to authority. He who owes nothing, fears nothing,” he said.


The Deputy Health Minister, Hugo López-Gatell, reported on the COVID pandemic.

“Fortunately we have two consecutive weeks of reduction in deaths … 32 states with a drastic reduction of the epidemic, it’s practically finished,” López-Gatell said.

Deputy Health Secretary Hugo López-Gatell painted a rosy picture of the pandemic's course on Tuesday.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell painted a rosy picture of the pandemic’s course on Tuesday. Presidencia de la República

On the press, the president said the lack of uproar about Julian Assange, the jailed investigative journalist, was a sign of the failings of the fourth estate.

“All those journalists, none demand the freedom of Assange from WikiLeaks, who’s imprisoned. None, because strictly speaking they are not journalists, they do not confront oppressive power, they do not confront those who fight against oppression,” AMLO said.

On his living arrangements, he assured viewers that his setup was relatively austere, in presidential terms: “Yes, it is a palace, but I live in an apartment that [former presidents] Calderón and Peña kept for leisure.”

To prove it, he invited journalists to tour the modest abode.


AMLO remembered Francisco I. Madero on Wednesday. The revolutionary and former president was assassinated on February 23, 109 years previously. Mexico’s current president blamed the elites of the day: “They showed joy for those abominable acts,” he said.

After a short warning about dangerous cancer drugs, Elizabeth García Vilchis whizzed through the fake news. She said a concession hadn’t been paid near the Maya Train project, the president’s son was clean and the government’s figures on airport construction costs were correct.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had expressed concern about the killings of journalists. AMLO was swift in response: “I think he doesn’t know, he’s not well informed about this situation because there are no state crimes anymore,” he said.

The president added that Austria were firmly in his bad books for not returning a historical artifact. The president’s wife had a reportedly “very unpleasant” meeting with Austrian authorities about the headdress of Moctezuma, the last Aztec emperor.

As promised, the president finished with a tour of the National Palace, accompanied by journalists.


Russia launched a full scale invasion of Ukraine on Thursday and the president called for a peaceful resolution.

A group of Ukrainian citizens protested outside the Russian embassy in Mexico City on Thursday.
A group of Ukrainian citizens protested outside the Russian Embassy in Mexico City on Thursday.

“In terms of foreign policy we are going to continue to … promote dialogue. No use of force, no invasion. We are not in favor of any war. Mexico is a country that has always spoken out for peace and for the peaceful settlement of disputes,” he said.

He added that the government and the peso were prepared for volatile fuel markets due to the conflict.

A journalist from Sonora mentioned a statement by the head of the Supreme Court, Arturo Zaldívar, who claimed there was a cover-up when a fire killed 49 children at a kindergarten in Hermosillo in 2009.

“I believe him, because he is a righteous person. I consider him a person of integrity,” the president said.

AMLO then pointed directly to the two last presidents, accusing them of complicity in reaction to tragedies.

“What moral authority can a president have who orders that such regrettable events … be hidden? … There’s no way that president Calderón gave the order to burn the nursery, or that president Peña gave the order to disappear the young people [in Ayotzinapa] … But at the same time, if they didn’t order those inhuman acts … then why cover them up?”


The president was on volcanic ground on Friday in Colima city.

Governor Indira Vizcaíno, who interrupted more than 70 years of Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) power in June’s elections, thanked the president for his visit on some 10 occasions.

The diminutive state has been plagued by violence in recent years, including a recent wave of murders amid fighting between cartels.

Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval confirmed the worst: the state was number one for property theft and homicides. He added that 200 million pesos (US $9.8 million) was going to be spent on the Colima prison that recently saw a riot that killed at least eight inmates.

On the situation in Ukraine, the president reiterated his opposition to invasions. But for AMLO, it was personal: “The military invasions that we have suffered. The Spaniards invaded us and imposed a colonial system that dominated us for three centuries … the French invaded us twice … then, the Americans invaded us. First, they promoted the separation of Texas and then they invaded us … and took away half of our territory. Then the French invaded us again,” the Tabascan lamented, shortly before striding away to attend to the nation.

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