Politics

Electoral reform, Biden on the line: the week’s press conferences


President López Obrador was in Veracruz and San Luis Potosí last weekend checking up on new highways. He was back to Mexico City on Sunday to celebrate his son’s 15th birthday.

Monday

A journalist kicked off the questions with the words of a former U.S. president. Speaking at a rally, Donald Trump had said that AMLO’s government folded on migration negotiations, before adding that despite him being a socialist, he liked the tabasqueño.

“I like President Trump, even though he’s a capitalist,” the president responded.

“The truth is that we understood each other and it was good for both nations … We will not allow any party … in the United States, or any candidate, to use Mexico as a piñata,” he insisted.

On claims that his predecessor had ordered the then CEO of Pemex to pay a bribe to a political opponent, the president said he was the wrong man to ask. Later in the conference he celebrated Emmanuel Macron’s election victory in France and said voters there had chosen liberty, equality and fraternity.

However, the president was more concerned with voters at home, and their pocketbooks. He said a new plan for controlling inflation was forthcoming. Inflation hit 7.72% in the first half of April, far above the Bank of México’s 3% target.

Tuesday

“Fortunately conditions are better, now that the pandemic is almost completely over,” the president declared, adding that the Tuesday health updates would now focus more on the government’s health reforms.

Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell presented a table of the 30 worst countries for COVID-19 deaths: Mexico was 28th.

There was an update on educational reforms, which provided a platform for a short rant by the suitably named Marx Arriaga, the Education Ministry’s director of educational materials.

Marx Arriaga, Director of Educational Materials for the Education Ministry, discussed educational reforms at Tuesday's conference.
Marx Arriaga, director of educational materials at the Education Ministry, discussed educational reforms at Tuesday’s conference. Presidencia de la República

“I could point out hundreds of social problems that this meritocratic behaviorist, punitive, patriarchal, racist, competitive, Eurocentric, colonial, inhuman and classist neoliberal [educational] model has generated,” he said.

On billionaire Elon Musk’s likely acquisition of Twitter, the president said he thought it could help liberate the platform. “Hopefully they clean it of the corruption that is there, of manipulation with bots … [hopefully] there will be no censorship so that we can have alternative means of information, and all have the possibility to communicate,” he said.

The president confirmed he would chat with U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday by telephone, but admitted he still didn’t know what they would discuss.

Wednesday

Government media expert Elizabeth García Vilchis presented her regular “who’s who in the lies of the week” section. She said it was a lie that the recently opened Felipe Ángeles airport was empty, and that in fact six flights were departing a day. For the sake of comparison, Mexico City’s main airport — the busiest in Latin America — handled more than 500 departures on Wednesday.

García repeated the claim that the Maya Train project doesn’t damage the environment and added, “There are ecocides that pseudo-environmentalists don’t want to see. They just want to protest against the Maya Train.”

The president said the government’s plan to keep prices in check would cap the cost of 25 basic products “so that the most humble people do not suffer and they are guaranteed the basics at a fair price.” He added that most producers, distributors and stores were on board with the plan.

On environmental matters, the president revealed a chart of international carbon emissions. Mexico was in 42nd place, a mere speck compared to China, which the chart showed emitted three times more carbon than the second worst country, India.

Thursday

Deputy Security Minister Ricardo Mejía Berdeja presented the “Zero Impunity” section on crime. He detailed some of the suspects that had been arrested, including: El Gusano (The Worm), El Chopa (The Black Seabream) and El Grillo (The Cricket), and the Colombian cartel leader El Boliqueso (The Cheeseball), who’d been deported.

Interior Minister Adán Augusto López revealed the details of the electoral reform, which was set for Congress. The constitutional bill would dissolve the National Electoral Institute (INE) replacing it with a directly elected body, cut public funding to political parties, loosen electoral campaigning rules, cut the number of federal and local lawmakers and introduce electronic voting.

“There is no intention to impose a single party. What we want is for there to be an authentic, true democracy in the country and to end electoral fraud,” the president said of the bill.

On Thursday, Interior Minister Adán Augusto López spoke about the proposed electoral reform.
On Thursday, Interior Minister Adán Augusto López spoke about the proposed electoral reform. Presidencia de la República

“It’s not possible that in this world, in these times of technological development, we cannot … create a simple, agile, free, secure, secret mechanism,” he added, on a system for electronic voting.

López Obrador extended the conference to bring out deputies from his Morena party, thanking them for the recent nationalization of lithium and encouraging their support for the electoral bill, which could threaten some of their livelihoods. “Long live the transformation of Mexico. Long live the deputies. Long live Mexico!” he exclaimed.

Friday

The conference was broadcast from Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, where Governor Carlos Joaquín said tourism in the state had come roaring back since the COVID-19 pandemic abated, but complained about troublesome sargassuma seaweed that emits a foul odor when it decomposes — arriving on the beaches.

The Navy Minister confirmed that marines had collected 97 tonnes of sargassum, saving tourists the eyesore and the unwelcome stench.

Later in the conference, López Obrador insisted that he hadn’t revealed his successor in Thursday’s meeting, after Morena deputies chanted, “President! President!” at the Interior Minister.

He repeated the guarantee that the party’s next candidate for the presidency would be decided by a public survey.

“It’s not only … [Interior Minister] Adán, … [Mexico City Mayor] Claudia Sheinbaum is one of the best, well-rounded and honest. I could say the same about [Foreign Minister] Marcelo Ebrard,” the president said, before mocking the opposition’s lack of obvious candidates.

To round off another week of conferences, Joaquín and AMLO headed off for an emotionally conflicted sandwich: “Cheerful shrimp. I think that’s what it’s called,” the governor said.

The president was dubious.

“Happy shrimp,” Joaquín remembered, correcting himself.

Mexico News Daily





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