By RICARDO CASTILLO
That old proverb “don’t do good things that look bad” couldn’t be more timely for Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) regarding his outing on the March 28 weekend. AMLO went to Baja California to visit two main cities. Tijuana and Mexicali, and then moved on to the state of Sinaloa, spending time in the capital city of Culiacán and the Badiraguato municipality.
It could be that AMLO’s visitation to TJ, Mexicali and Culiacán were warranted. But what the hell was he doing in out-of-the-political-way Badiraguato?
AMLO “officially” went to Badiraguato to supervise the construction of a road tat will lead into another nearby township, which was clearly not a sizeable public work for a president to pay heed to. But, then, while AMLO was inspecting the construction site, a there white SUV transporting none other than Doña María Consuelo Loera, mother of convicted-and sentenced-to-life-in-a U.S.-prison drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
AMLO rushed to the side of Doña Consuelo´s vehicle with a welcoming right hand extended and told the 92-year-old woman: “I´ll greet you, . Don’t get out of the car. I have received your letter,” all while shaking hands with her.
This constituted two good things that looked bad, starting with the handshake. For weeks now, Mexicans have been preached from the National Palace that a simple handshake can mean the spread of the coronavirus, now so widespread globally. Don’t smooch, we’ve been told. Don’t shake hands. Don’t even rub elbows.
And there he was, AMLO, shaking hands in front of the media cameras.
But that’s not the half of it.
The political significance of AMLO shaking hands with the mother of the nation’s foremost “Bad Hombre” (to quote U.S. President Donald Trump) really was a major political faux pas. All of Mexico’s political trumpets have since been blaring over what the act meant. It touched every dissonant key in the nation.
On the morning of Monday, Mach 31, AMLO explained both aspects of the controversial handshake.
“Mothers have a special sublime love for their sons,” he told reporters in his daily news briefing.
“She told me (in a letter) that she has not seen him (meaning “El Chapo”) in five years and that she doesn’t want to die without seeing him. She asked me to arrange the formalities so that the U.S. government would allow her to travel to see her son, and I will carry out the paperwork.”
AMLO warned, however, that it is up to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico to decide if she will be granted permission for humanitarian reasons.
Th president also noted that he was in Badiraguato to supervise a road construction at a township called La Tuna.
“I was told that she was there and wanted to say hello to me,” he said.
“I got out of my vehicle and went to greet her. She’s a 92-year-old lady, and as I have said before, the most deadly enemy is corruption, and not a senior citizen who deserves all my respect, regardless of who her son is.”
He continued: “Sometimes I have to shake hands with people because that’s a demand of my job, even to white-collar criminals who have not even lost their respectability. Then, why can’t I shake hands with an old señora? How can I leave her with her hand extended?”
Right after the handshake, AMLO knew he was in trouble, particularly coming from “my political adversaries,” who he claims now don’t want him to visit places far from the National Palace on weekends as he usually does. “They want me to isolate myself given the growing Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
In AMLO’s language, such an isolation would imply a political vacuum, which his opponents “would be eager to fill” if he gave them the chance.
“There are no vacuums in politics,” he said. “The vacuums are inevitably filled up, and that’s what they (his opponents) want, to have a vacuum so that they can grab the nation’s leadership.”
AMLO went on to say that “they do this in an irresponsible manner because of their wrath given the changes we are carrying out.”
“Given the fact that they were devoted to stealing, to sacking, and we said enough is enough, they are mad because they were stealing,” he said.
Most definitely in the conservative press – particularly financial dailies – there is an upsurge of attacks on the president now that are particularly meaningful given the fact that AMLO carried out the wrong handshake, in the wrong town, and, to boot, with the wrong lady.
That’s why the proverb “don’t do good things that look bad” means more now during the president’s shift in office.