By RICARDO CASTILLO
Mexican President Andrés Manual Lopez Obrador’s (AMLO) uncanny ability to shock people seems to have no limits. His latest stunt to do so was traveling on Delta Airlines tourist class. At the very least, he could have purchased a business class ticket, but he, along with small entourage headed by Foreign Relations (SRE) Secretary Marcelo Ebrard and Economy Secretary Graciela Márquez, among other officials, flew economy. Even Senate Majority Leader Ricardo Monreal was stunned.
“It’s unimaginable, unexpected, how the first president in the history of the nation is going to walk through normal immigration and customs filters and how a Mexican head of state, for the first time in history, is flying on a commercial airline,” said Nonreal.
“But it is very clear to us that this is what the republican austerity imposes.”
The other big shocker of the trip to the power meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington is the list of guests invited by AMLO to join him for dinner with his U.S. counterpart and released by the SRE press office. It contains the names of some of Mexico’s top tycoons, of course, headed by Carlos Slim.
To say the least, AMLO could have hitched a ride with any of these guests, who flew to the United States in their private jets, but, clearly, that was not the case. But AMLO had other plans.
Surely, if AMLO wanted to make an impression on Trump, a man who, when he was, a poor millionaire flew his own 727 – oldie but goodie – and now flies on Air Force 1, he would have flow in on the presidential jet. Maybe Trump will tweet some comment on AMLO’s “cheaper” ride.
Beyond the transport used to get him to Washington, there is yet another stunning feature in the AMLO’s list of guests. It does not include any of the usual “business leaders” who are battering AMLO’s administration, literally on a daily basis, in the conservative Mexican press. That includes the presidents of the Business Coordination Council (CCE) and the Mexican Employers Confederation (Comparex), Carlos Salazar and Gustavo de Hoyos, respectively. Was this a way form AMLO to respond to their constant sneering? Perhaps.
The one name that stands out on the guest list — even if it is perhaps one of the least known — is that of architect and construction industry leader, Marcos Shabot Zonana, who happens to be the president of the Central Jewish Community of Mexico Committee.
This group partially sponsored Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum’s political career. Many envision her as one of the salient candidates of presidential hopefuls in 2024 by the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) political party and AMLO’s favorite in the administration.
In any case, back to the republican austerity trip: Reporters on the plane said AMLO wore a blue sailor suit, white shirt and red tie. In addition, for the first time since the covid-19 pandemic hit Mexico, he was seen wearing a face cover. He ate a baguette for lunch.
The plane took off from Mexico City at 1:40 p.m. local time to Atlanta, where AMLO, like a regular passenger, had to wait for almost two hours for the shuttle to Dulles Airport in Washington, where he arrived at 9:15 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. It was nearly a nine-hour trip. AMLO and his entourage were welcomed by U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau and Mexican Ambassador to the United States Martha Bárcena.
Definitely, there is curiosity galore in Mexico as to what the outcome of this diplomatic powwow will be, since it which will redefine AMLO’s policies on international trade, as well as, hopefully, bring back investor confidence in Mexico.
…July 9, 2020