On a whistlestop tour of the Maya Train project, President López Obrador touched base on the weekend through his home state Tabasco, as well as Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo. The 1,500-kilometer rail project promises to link up the southeast and draw tourists inland but is under threat due to legal wrangling.
Grassroots politics were addressed on Monday: government fertilizers were destined for 700,000 agricultural producers in five more states than in the previous year. Farmers in Chiapas, Oaxaca, Durango, Nayarit and Zacatecas will now also benefit from a program that provides free fertilizers to small scale farmers, Agriculture Minister Víctor Villalobos Arámbula told reporters. Previous recipients had been farmers in Guerrero, Tlaxcala, Puebla and Morelos.
Violence was next on the agenda, but it didn’t concern the usual suspects, since 26 people had been injured in a massive fight at a football match in Querétaro city on the weekend. “We must continue to moralize the country and address the origins of violence,” the president said.
He also warned of a threat posed by another group: feminists preparing for International Women’s Day marches in Mexico City on Tuesday.
“We have information that they are preparing with sledgehammers, blowtorches and Molotov cocktails,” AMLO said. “They would like to vandalize the [National] Palace and the [Metropolitan] Cathedral, to present an image of Mexico in flames, because they do not agree with the transformation we are carrying out.”
He then confirmed his support for federal Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero, who had been caught on tape the week before allegedly discussing a backroom deal with Supreme Court members to improperly intervene in a case heard by the court that related to the 2015 death of his brother.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell promoted gender equality and announced six consecutive weeks of reduction in the fourth wave of the pandemic.
On International Women’s Day, the president had a long list of women to thank: Leona Vicario, who aided insurgents during the independence struggle; the wife of Benito Juárez, Margarita Maza de Juárez; the Adelitas, women who fought in the Revolution; and one other revolutionary, Carmen Serdán.
Feminism in Mexico, he added, was alive and well: the government has the highest-ever number of women ministers, the legislature is 50% female and four of 11 Supreme Court judges are women. He said economic equality was a priority, with “millions of women in poverty,” and argued for a culture that “does not maintain authoritarian, sexist attitudes … There should be no hate crimes and no femicides,” he said.
However, later in the conference, the president had some stiff words for protesting feminists he said were aligned with the conservative movement: “Where do these feminists come from? … When has conservatism defended the rights of women? When?”
Meanwhile, a businessman had criticized the president for being an agitator. “I’m an agitator of consciences,” AMLO conceded.
Feminist marches on Tuesday had been generally peaceful, AMLO said, but “there were some, let’s say, incidents.”
Later in the conference, he confirmed that, as he had predicted the day before, hammers, sledgehammers and blowtorches were seized, about 60 of them.
The administration’s “lies in the media” czarina Elizabeth García Vilchis revealed the good, the bad and the ugly in the fake news of the week. She confirmed that train heists hadn’t increased and rubbished the claim that the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) had had its largest deficit in 31 years.
On a court ruling to suspend construction of the Maya Train, the president said there would be no halting his flagship project. “It will be decided by the court … in due course. It’s not going to stop us,” he said.
More annoying to AMLO were the whereabouts of the headdress of Moctezuma, the last Aztec emperor. “It was illegally stolen,” the president said, implicating Austria as the culprit.
“They feel they own it. They appropriated something that’s ours … I’m not even angry anymore,” he added.
Chapultepec park, Mexico City’s gargantuan green space more than twice the size of New York’s Central Park, topped Thursday’s agenda as it’s getting a healthy makeover.
Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said that the new fourth section of the park would cover 88 acres, and she accused the Enrique Peña Nieto government of trying to turn it into a fancy residential area before mentioning that a new five-kilometer cable car would link up the whole park.
The old presidential residence, Los Pinos, has been opened to the public, but Culture Minister Alejandra Frausto said it has been a tricky job.
“They left it empty. There was nothing, not even a glass to drink water or a pan to heat a tortilla,” she said, referring to the previous presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto. AMLO broke with tradition when he was elected in 2018 by declining to live there, unlike all but one president since 1935.
Frausto added she was told to take advantage of Buen Fin, Mexico’s discount shopping holiday, to buy kitchenware, then announced that culture ministers from 190 countries would convene for an event in Chapultepec park in 2022.
The president promised gas and electricity prices wouldn’t rise, despite huge global hikes due to the conflict in Ukraine. He also mentioned some financial advice for his friend, Argentina President Alberto Fernández, who was meeting with officials from the International Monetary Fund to discuss his country’s mammoth debt. AMLO recommended accepting a postponement in payments rather than declaring bankruptcy.
Reading from a letter, the Tabascan offered Fernández a pep talk: “I’m sure you’ll be immune to the threatening media strategy because you are aided by reason, you work for the people and you’re a good governor.”
He also congratulated the Argentine president and his wife, who are expecting a child.
The president was in the modern Casablanca on Friday: Tapachula, Chiapas. The border city is the main entry point from Central America where tens of thousands of migrants await their paperwork to advance toward the United States, not knowing if it will ever arrive.
Chiapas Governor Rutilio Escandón assured that the migrant situation was receiving rigorous attention and announced his permanent admiration for the president. “You will always be, with a lot of affection … and with a lot of respect, tattooed in the hearts of the people of Chiapas,” he said.
Later in the conference, the president said that the solution to the migration crisis was to create work in Central America and urged U.S. President Biden to invest in the region. However, he didn’t touch on how to help Haitian migrants, 30,000 of which are currently awaiting resolution in Tapachula.
The tabasqueño added that he would visit El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and Cuba in May, a list that omits Nicaragua, where the leftist dictator Daniel Ortega reigns supreme.
Finally, the European Parliament had approved a resolution criticizing AMLO’s confrontational stance toward the media. “Sheep,” the president cried in response to their censure.
“It’s unfortunate that, like sheep, you join the reactionary and coup-like strategy of the corrupt group that opposes [AMLO’s administration] … Mexico is no longer a land of conquest … Mexico is a pacifistic country … we do not send weapons to any country under any circumstances, as you are doing now,” AMLO read from his letter to the parliament, referring to the European Union’s military support of Ukraine.
Mexico News Daily