By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Critics of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) wasted no time after his 45-minute Informe de Gobierno (State of the Nation Address) on Tuesday, Sept. 1, to attack his annual report as “false,” “misleading” and “delusional.”
In the address — the second in the president’s six-year term — AMLO congratulated himself and his leftwing administration for successfully eradicating corruption, maintaining sound economic policies and adopting effective government measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Notwithstanding, AMLO’s opponents immediately pointed out that the president conveniently did not mention the recent government scandals involving controversial videos of his brother, Pio López Obrador, receiving huge bundles of cash from his close ally and confidant David León, and the alleged sale of defective ventilators to the government by the son of AMLO’s energy secretary, Manuel Bartlett Díaz, at 10 times the going rate.
Writing in newspapers and speaking on broadcast media nationwide and abroad, AMLO’s critics also pointed out that the economy is now in shambles — with a real GDP contraction for five consecutive quarters (long before the pandemic took hold in March) and more than 12 millón Mexicans out of work due to covid-19 shutdowns, as well as the fact that, as of Sept. 1 — the day of the Informe — there had been more than 606,000 confirmed cases of covid-19 in Mexico and more than 65,000 Mexicans had died of the disease, making Mexico the country with the fourth-largest number of deaths worldwide, after the United States, Brazil and India.
While AMLO’s own finance secretary, Arturo Herrera, days earlier assessed Mexico’s economic future as “grim,” with little hope of recovery in the next two years (a timeline which many analysts still consider too optimistic), in his address, López Obrador painted a rosy picture of a “solid economy” that could serve as an example for the rest of the world.
As a result of AMLO’s so-called Fourth Transformation Republican Austerity programs, which have stubbornly denied any financial support to private-sector industries during the pandemic, respected analysts both in Mexico and abroad have predicted that up to a quarter of the country’s businesses will go under this year, and more than 10 million Mexicans will join the ranks of the nation’s poor.
Still, in his Informe, AMLO seemed — without bases — to see Mexico’s economic future as positive and strong.
He likewise placed great faith in his three controversial pet projects: the construction of a new Dos Bocas oil refinery in his home state of Tabasco, despite the fact that global oil prices are rock bottom, the country’s reserves are contracting and most nations are instead turning to clean energy substitutes; the expansion of a Tren Maya tourist train, in spite of a collapsed national tourism industry and warnings from his own experts that the train could lead to the disappearance of up to 50 percent of the region’s crucial flora and fauna; and the transformation of a small, obsolete and poorly situated military airfield into the country’s main commercial airport, even though civil engineers have said that it will not be able to receive larger jets and could damage the nearby archeological site of Teotihuacán.
AMLO maintained an upbeat attitude throughout the Informe, hitting only on topics that showed his government and its accomplishments in a positive light, while glazing over the dire health and economic concerns that have most Mexicans worried about their future and that of the country.
In his daily press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 2, AMLO once against raged against his critics, saying that they were corrupt and paid off by undefined political interests that are trying to derail his administration.
In his informe, López Obrador maintained that Mexico is “an example for the world” in terms of its medical and economic management of the global covid-19 crisis.
The rest of the world seems unconvinced, and so do most Mexicans.
…Sept. 2, 2020