By RICARDO CASTILLO
Haphazard School Kickoff
The school year in Mexico kicked off on Monday, Aug. 24, with all of the failures expected from a nation not accustomed to remote education.
With classes at home, parents from all over the country complained first about the communications system failure as teachers responsible for their groups groped to find alternative education methods.
Normally efficient linkup systems such as Zoom did not deliver a signal in many parts of the nation. Parents and teachers had to communicate through phone calls and WhatsApp to bring order to the “classroom.”
On the northwestern Pacific coast states (Sinaloa, Sonora and Baja California), with different time zones, teachers complained that the content grid broadcast from Mexico City did not adjust to programmed timings.
The worst confusion, however, did not come from the grid, but from parents not boasting a pedagogic education – as teachers do – and realizing that they were forced to learn on the go.
In some undeveloped southeastern states such as Michoacán, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas and Campeche, there is little television and phone availability and Internet service is still scant. The Public Education Secretariat in each of the states, directly now responsible for education, decided to look town-by-town in order to deliver didactic paper notebooks.
And in Mexico City, an “85 percent attendance” was reported since all schools have an electronic page. Now the concern is what happened to the remaining 15 percent, whether they were not linked up because they wield no internet or computer, or if they were simply not attending. The city wants to discover what the source of the problem is.
Nevertheless, public and private television stations are using traditional Sesame Street puppetry to teach minors to follow basic hygiene procedures such as washing their hands. The new character is Ajolisto, a colorful Mexican Axolotl muppet.
Classes lasted from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., with parents choosing their times of teaching, and taking turns for computer availability.
There is no question, Mexico has gone fully electronic, even if somehow the country remains “wireless” in many areas.
AMLO Brawls with the Press, Again
Critical Mexico City newspapers El Universal and Reforma received a strong reprimand from Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) for using the word “catastrophic” when the number of dead due to covid-19 infections loomed over 60,000.
Both papers hinted that the government is “burying” figures, which in their tallies and in the eyes of most outside sources is a lot higher than those officially reported.
AMLO retorted: “We are not equal. The lion thinks we are all hairy. There are undeniable figures and, unfortunately, the number of dead cannot be hidden. This is not just about measuring with tests and contagion. The hardest and most painful number is that of the dead. How can one hide that?”
Nevertheless, there have been numerous reports by public health physicians and other medical personnel claiming that they have been ordered by their superiors to register suspected covid deaths as the result of heart failure, pneumonia or even measles.
AMLO blasted the newspapers for making what he called “poor taste” assumptions and claiming Mexico is worse off than many other in nations in dealing with the pandemic.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Mexico ranks third worldwide in the number of covid.19 deaths.
On Monday, Aug. 24, the government’s official covid czar, Hugo López-Gatell, and his team of epidemiologists reported 60,800 dead and 503,705 cases of positive patients.
On a related issue, the government announced the still-in-clinical-trials, Mexican-made vaccine by AstraZeneca Laboratories could be available as early as Nov. 3.
AstraZeneca said that the cost of the vaccine would be of about 100 pesos per shot, but that in Mexico the government, along with the nonprofit Carlos Slim Foundation, will foot the total vaccination bill.
Texcoco, an Ecology Park
On Tuesday Aug. 25, National Water Commission Director Blanca Jiménez presented blueprints for the proposed Texcoco Lake Ecological Project, located exactly at the same place the now-defunct the New International Mexico Airport (NAIM) was going to be erected.
Speaking at AMLO’s daily press conference, Jiménez said the objective of the project is “to recoup 12,200 hectares with one environmental restoration, with spaces for public use for the benefit of the inhabitants of the Valley of Mexico.”
On showing pictures of the current state of the steel skeleton of the structures, AMLO pointed out the natural flooding of the area due to recent rain downpours.
“Had we not cancelled the project now, the government would be paying for the costs of pumping that water out,” he said.
The project, touted as 15 times larger than Chapultepec Park, “covid-19 pandemic permitting,” should be ready by 2021 for public use, Jiménez said.
AMLO authorized the carrying out of a citizens’ consultation survey between Sept. 1 and 15 to decide whether former Mexican presidents can be brought to trial for past corrupt actions such as the Odebrecht-Pemex case recently described by former Pemex Director Emilio Lozoya Austin.
The president said that the Federal Law for Popular Consultation, upon the petition from the governing president, could be put into effect with a minimum of 1.6 million signatures from registered voters, that is, 2 percent of the total registered ones.
Even before taking office, AMLO used the controversial referendum polling to get approval for his pet projects.
AMLO also said that, if approved, the citizens’ consultation will be carried out by the National Electoral Institute (INE) and that he will vote against bringing former presidents to trial.
“I don’t believe that it should be done, but the people have the final word,” he said. “I will vote for the ‘no’ option.”
August Inflation up
Inflation during the first two weeks of August rose to 3.99 percent and is now 1 percent above the low number objective established by the central Banco de México (Banxico) target.
The rise in prices was due to surging energy costs, as well as to a high consumption fruits and legumes. the government said.
Peso Still Alive and Kicking
The Mexican peso rebounded a bit on Tuesday, Aug. 25, hitting one of its lowest exchange rates in recent history, down to 21.98 per greenback, according to Banxico.
The peso had been holding steady at slightly over 22 pesos for more than a month, but now it has dropped below the 22-peso barrier.
…Aug. 25, 2020