By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Despite the fact that the spread of the novel coronavirus in Mexico has not even begun to peak, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) called on the country’s citizens Thursday, June 11, to “overcome their fears” and venture out of their houses.
Speaking during his daily “press conference” (attended almost exclusively by his personal fan club of pseudo journalists whose “questions” are usually elaborated praises of adulation for their irreproachable paladin rather than legitimate inquiries), AMLO once again managed to shove his size-12 foot into his dysenteried mouth by encouraging those who have, up to now, managed to avoid infection.
“First and foremost, we should not let our guard down or risk our lives in the face of the covid-19 pandemic,” the president said as a prefix to his invitation to the Mexican public to throw caution to the wind and return to the outside world.
“But at the same time, now, we should start cautiously and little-by-little going forward … and begin to go outside.”
AMLO went on to acknowledge that that “we are all afraid, we all have concerns, but as human beings, we must understand this and venture outdoors.”
As of Wednesday, June 10, Mexico had nearly 130,000 confirmed cases of covid-19 (and most cases go unregistered or mislabeled, by some international estimates, the number of cases could be 10 to 20 times higher) and more than confirmed 15,000 deaths, and the numbers continue to rise exponentially.
AMLO has repeatedly set a bad example for his constituents by kissing babies in public and refusing to wear a face mask or even get tested, despite being in direct contact with members of his cabinet that have tested positive for the disease.
Less than a week ago, he assured his followers that “being honest, not permitting corruption and avoiding junk food” is the best prevention against contracting coronavirus. (Who needs a vaccine if giving up a Big Mac can save you from a respirator?)
Mexico’s emergency wards and intensive care units are saturated and its medical personnel is overworked, underpaid and in dire need of basic personal protective equipment (PPE), but AMLO wants people to go out and socialize, thus increasing the incidence and spread of covid-19.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum and most of the nation’s non-Morena governors have tried to mitigate the spread of the virus by encouraging their citizenry to stay indoors as much as possible.
But not AMLO.
He is encouraging people to go out and forget their fears.
AMLO’s “recommendations” to ignore the lockdown – which flies in his government’s own red-light-green-light guidelines for restarting the economy (the entire county is currently designated as red) comes just two days after he made a public spectacle of himself with the presentation of an unauthorized “document” of a so-called BOA group of opposition politicians who had allegedly “dared” to conspire to create a unified front against him and his leftist National Regeneration Movement in order to remove his rubber-stamp congressional majority. (Question: Isn’t working to politically overcome a majority government what an opposition group is supposed to do?)
In the midst of a pandemic that is ravaging the country’s population and plummeting even further an economy already contracted by the president’s inept financial management, AMLO has moved full speed ahead with his plans for an extended Tren Maya tourist train, despite countless warnings from environmentalists that it will destroy over 50 percent of the flora and fauna in the Yucatan.
He refuses to even consider rethinking his dogged persistence to build a refinery in his home state of Tabasco, even though the international price of oil is currently so low that the cost of refining Mexico’s low-grade Maya oil is far higher than the price it can sell for.
He steadfastly insists on constructing a pre-doomed airport next to one of the country’s most important archeological sites surrounded by mountains that will make it impossible for larger commercial jets to use.
And now, he invites his people to “go out” and “overcome their fears” of covid-19.
Unfortunately, AMLO still has a large following among Mexicans (although it is hard to believe the official numbers regarding his ever-dwindling popularity), and, no doubt, many Mexicans will take his advice.
The result will most certainly lead to more infections and more deaths.
AMLO is a great lover of history, constantly comparing himself and his so-called Fourth Transformation government to that of Benito Juárez and revolutionary leaders.
He prefers to point Mexico in the direction of 100 or even 200 years ago, rather than toward the future and modernity.
And with his “astute” advice to forget the lockdown, damn the torpedoes and play covid roulette by going outdoors, AMLO will no doubt push the country’s already-strained medical services beyond their limit and plunge the country still further back into the past.
AMLO is destroying any hope for the brighter and more equitable future he promised the Mexican people during his campaign.