By RICARDO CASTILLO
There are two burning journalistic issues in Mexico that best portray not the real shape of things, but how feverish minds are trying their best to undermine the democratically and legally elected presidency of Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO).
Here are samples of two articles, one written by syndicated columnist Salvador García Soto and the published in the British daily the Financial Times, both scourging López Obrador.
First, let’s examine García Soto’s tirade on the new Bioethics Guide, which prioritizes young lives over those of the elderly.
On Tuesday, April 14, the Mexican Health Secretariat published a document called the “Bioethics Guide to Resource Assignation in Critical Medicine.”
Political fake news manufacturers in the press immediately saw a political division in government because the guide was directly approved by Public Health Secretary Jorge Alcocer Varela and not by anti-Covid-19 czar Hugo López-Gatell, who is running the public relations aspect of the campaign, compiling daily data produced by all hospitals in the nation. The compilation of figures related to the dead, the infected and the potential growth of the pandemic – in accordance with the sentinel gauging system – are his forte, and he now holds a news conference at the National Palace every day for updates on the current coronavirus crisis.
The politics at the Public Health Secretariat – for those who see López-Gatell as the acting secretary and not for what he really is, the head health promotion and disease prevention undersecretary. Given Lopez-Gatell noteworthy gift to lecture and inform publicly, he was assigned that position which places him on a shoulder-to-shoulder basis with AMLO. That should be enough to keep epidemiologist López-Gatell quite busy.
Given thesituation of López-Gatell’s high visibility, the man really running the Health Secretariat as a whole, Alcocer Varela, was deemed by journalism gossipmongers as noninfluential. Nevertheless, Alcocer is running the Health Secretariat all over the nation and managing hundreds of hospitals.
He also ordered the Health Secretariat’s National Center for Technological Excellence in Healthcare (Cenetec) to draft the aforementioned guide, which was written under the supervision of Cenetec Director Asa Cristina Laurell.
The guide outlines the criteria of bioethics doctors in hospitals must follow regarding the assignment of treatment materials in a worst case scenario in which patient demand surpasses equipment availability. Hospitals have not yet gotten to that point, but it could happen.
Some journalists are interpreting this as those who “decide” at a hospital ward “who lives and who dies,” and not as what medics are doing today, risking their lives in the process, trying to save as many patients as is feasible under current conditions, including equipment availability.
In short, Alcocer, a rather humble medical doctor and hospital manager with a long CV of experience and international awards to his name, is running a much larger show than keeping and divulging the numbers of the Covid-19 veritable quagmire.
Just as an example, last week breakouts of measles were detected in a region near Mexico City. Health Secretariat doctors, silently, look after the causes and control of isolated breakouts such as this one.
So it’s an outright lie that there is a political divide between doctors Alcocer and López-Gatell. Nevertheless, some Mexican columnists have alleged divisions either in ill faith or because it sounds like a plausible invention of inexistent conflicts within the much-hated AMLO (by the press) administration.
But with Alcocer making the Bioethics Guide available to doctors, it only goes to prove that it is the health secretary, and not an undersecretary, that is running the Public Health Secretariat, as well as supervising the running of the horrible freak sideshow that the coronavirus pandemic could still turn into.
López Gatell does very well at what he does, but in times of turmoil it is Alcocer that is calling the shots. AMLO’s refuses to shell out payola to unscrupulous journalists who are trying their best to muddy the delicate clear waters while trying to keep the nation as healthy as the Public Health Secretariat is able to do under these trying circumstances.
As for the article in the Financial Times, under the headline “Mexico’s Unfolding Presidential Tragedy” the newspaper’s editorial board published a smear article against AMLO’s policies on Tuesday, April 14.
When asked on Wednesday, April 15, about the article, AMLO answered, “I don’t read the Financial Times.” Maybe this is because AMLO does not read in English.
Nor is AMLO yielding to attacks like the following:
“More and more voices in Mexico’s elite are speaking of a looming tragedy,” the Finanicial Times article said.
“Business leaders have proposed an alternative virus response plan. The odd dissenting voice within Mr, López Obrador’s governing alliance can sometimes be heard. But Mexico has an imperial presidency and an imperious president. Time is perilously short.”
But again, it is the same type of attack, now by a foreign publication sticking its nose in the internal affairs of Mexico, trying to topple Mexico’s duly elected president.
Or,, living in Mexico, it could just be that like some Mexican journalists not getting their pay from the government, or advertising for that matter, the FT’s editorial board is writing this type of critique to soften the man.
That’s the way it was done in Mexico under past administrations.
The question now is: Has the FT joined the pack of angry – and hungry – Mexican journalists unleashing their fury against AMLO?
It’s just a question.