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

Who needs the WHO? The week at the morning news conferences

AMLO voiced support for a partying prime minister, but his voice faltered later in the week

President López Obrador talked security in Baja California and Sonora last weekend. Bullets fly with some regularity in the border states, where homicide rates are high. It’s unclear whether hugs have increased under the government’s security strategy.

Monday

Hope had all but disappeared for the miners in Coahuila, trapped since a collapse on August 3, after the president confirmed more bad luck in the rescue effort.

López Obrador rebutted accusations of nepotism in internal elections for Morena, the party he founded. “I think they are scourges of the politics of the old regime that you have to erase. Cronyism, influence, nepotism … it may be legal, but it’s immoral,” he said, adding that his wife Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller turned down the post of first lady.

Another indisputable scourge was raised later in the conference. A journalist asked if former President Peña Nieto would face arrest for charges related to the Ayotzinapa massacre in 2014, after the former attorney general, Jesús Murillo Karam, was put behind bars. Offering no names, the president insisted there was a cover up in the original investigation. “In one way or another they made an agreement to hide the facts, which is known as the fabrication of the so-called ‘historical truth’ … they were compiling together all this falsehood, torturing people and fabricating statements,” he asserted, before adding that Peña Nieto’s fate would rest with the judiciary.

In fact, the president’s sights were set on even more powerful adversaries. “They owe us $75 million,” he said of a United Nations (UN) vaccine initiative, COVAX, that had failed to deliver 10 million shots. “A renovation of those international bodies is overdue,” he added.

Tuesday

Despite the vaccine deficit, López Obrador was feeling sprightly about the country’s finances on Tuesday. “There is good news: the preliminary results have been announced on foreign investment in Mexico and they are historic … in recent times never has so much foreign investment been received as in the first quarter,” he said. However, not all money was welcome: the president reiterated his ire at Mexican political groups being funded by the U.S. government and confirmed there was still no reply from a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden on the matter.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell speaks at the Tuesday press conference.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell lamented the difficulties getting promised vaccines delivered from COVAX. Presidencia de la República

After noting the benefits of global investment, government officials were still irked by global governance and the UN’s failure to fulfill its obligations. The president noted that after Monday’s conference, the World Health Organization (a specialized agency of the UN) had reached out offering to ship a portion of the promised vaccines.

Nonetheless, Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said his patience had worn thin. “So far a little more than 24 million doses have been delivered and we have $76 million outstanding. We have been requesting, requesting and requesting for almost a year to be given the doses that correspond to us … there’s been frustration and great dissatisfaction,” he declared.

“The government of Mexico reserves the right to undertake any action, including legal, if this commitment is not fulfilled,” López-Gatell added.

Wednesday

Elizabeth García Vilchis speaks at Wednesday's press conference.
Speaking on behalf of the presidency, Elizabeth García Vilchis refuted several government-related news stories. Presidencia de la República

The government’s media monitor Elizabeth García Vilchis sorted fact from fiction on Wednesday. She said the tax authority, SAT, wasn’t conducting random investigations and “the efficiency of Cofepris is a fact,” assuring that the health regulator isn’t mired in backlog. García added that the new school curriculum wouldn’t force students to memorize the government’s infrastructure projects and insisted that the arrest of the former attorney general for historic foul play around the Ayotzinapa investigation was not politically motivated.

The president extended his field of vision to foreign shores. “There was a whole political lynching … It’s so important to dance. Why shouldn’t she go dancing?” the president posed in support of Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, whose party antics recently landed her in controversy. Crossing the Atlantic, López Obrador condemned the raid of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Florida home and expressed concern about corruption charges against Argentine political titan and Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

Later in the conference, the tabasqueño lamented the failures of global political bodies. “International bodies, such as the UN, have not wanted to confront the grave problem of inequality and corruption in the world. So that’s why there is migration, that’s why there is violence … governments and the European Parliament, instead of looking for ways to achieve peace between Russia and Ukraine, they are proposing more confrontation,” he said.

Thursday

The president addressed a variety of economic issues on Thursday.
The president addressed a variety of economic issues on Thursday. Presidencia de la República

“Bad air,” the president said, was to blame for his hoarse voice on Thursday.

However, López Obrador found his voice on the USMCA amid claims by the U.S. and Canada that the government’s favoring of public energy companies had violated the agreement, and provided his own complaint. “With what right can you decide how laws should be in another country? It’s as if I demanded that the U.S. Congress meets an obligation … they have been offering for about 20 years to carry out a reform to regularize our migrant countrymen and they have not done it …. But … [we can’t] demand that they amend their laws,” he said.

On the USMCA, the president assured “no possibility exists” that Mexico would leave the treaty as it would be “very difficult for the U.S. economy to function without Mexico,” before adding that he didn’t plan to meet U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his upcoming visit to Mexico.

Later, the president compared another facet of Mexico’s economy, revealing a chart of international public debt. According to the graphic, Mexico owed 46% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to creditors, while Latin American countries on average owed 72%. Canada, the UK and the U.S. owed more than their respective GDPs, while Japan’s debt was 263% of its GDP.

Friday

“We didn’t torture anyone,” Deputy Interior Minister Alejandro Encinas said of the government’s investigation into the Ayotzinapa massacre, before denying that the 43 students were handed over to narcos and their corpses left in a waste dump, as the previous government’s ‘historic truth’ had concluded.

Encinas added that the students were monitored before their disappearance and that state authorities were involved. “With the ‘historic truth’ they tried to close the Ayotzinapa case, but we continued investigating,” he said.

Still sounding hoarse, López Obrador renewed his criticism of the UN. “The UN is becoming a flower holder,” the president said, using a Mexican expression to highlight the organization’s lack of utility. “It has agencies for everything. They earn a lot of money and don’t change anything,” the president added.

“I don’t have COVID, it’s pharyngitis,” the tabasqueño said of his faltering voice, assuaging the fears of Mexicans, shortly before striding away to attend to the nation.

Mexico News Daily

Reader forum

The forum is available to logged-in subscribers only.