By HUGO LÓPEZ VARGAS
Covid Vaccines on the Way
The Mexican government announced Tuesday, Oct. 13, that it had signed three pre-purchase agreements for covid-19 vaccines, in addition to those expected to come in with the global Covax Authority initiative, starting with possible deliveries as early as December or January.
As a result, Mexico should have access to enough vaccines — including both single-dose and double-dose versions — to vaccinate between 107 million and 116 million Mexicans over the next 12 months, according to Public Health Secretary Jorge Alcocer, who made the announcement during the regular morning press conference of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO).
Mexico signed the agreement with the transnational pharmaceutical firms Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and the Beijing-based CanSino Biologics, for the amounts of 38.7 million doses, 17 million doses and 35 million doses, respectively.
Mexico is also a member of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) multilateral Covax program, in which 18 vaccine projects are being developed.
Under the terms of the Covax Facility, all participating nations are guaranteed access to vaccines for 20 percent of their populations.
Picking on López-Gatell
Noticeably absent from the Tuesday morning press conference to announce the vaccine purchase was Mexico’s covid czar, Hugo López-Gatell.
It seems that López-Gatell got his feelings hurt when he paid a visit to the Mexican Senate last week and Senator Lilly Téllez, from the opposition National Action Party (PAN) denounced the undersecretary of health for his zigzagging strategy and haphazard handling of the covid-19 pandemic in Mexico.
Téllez ungraciously called López-Gatell “Mexico’s small viceroy of empty beds and those who die at home.”
During the Senate hearing, Tellez presented López-Gatell with a walking stick and said, “With your blind loyalty to the president, you have been shooting in the dark.”
Later other legislators from the opposition came forward, further belittling López-Gatell, with at least one alleging that the 83,000 deaths from the disease in Mexico were his fault.
And yet another displayed a placard making reference to a new Mexican law requiring labeling of unhealthy products, in this case targeting López-Gatell as having “excessive ineptitude and pride.”
A timid, soft-spoken López-Gatell defended himself by stating that he had met the expectations of the president, which in turn represents the country.
Calling on the Pope
On Saturday, Oct. 10, Mexican First Lady Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller paid a visit to the Vatican, along with the head of Mexico’s Honorary Consul for the Coordination of Historic and Cultural Memories, and met with Pope Francis.
The purpose of the meeting was to present a letter written by AMLO requesting that the Pope offer an apology to the indigenous peoples of Mexico on behalf of the Catholic Church for Spanish aggressions toward culture.
“I must take advantage to insist that, alongside the Catholic Church, the Spanish monarchy and the state of Mexico, we must offer an apology to the original peoples who faced atrocities and were oppressed from the Spanish Conquest of 1521 through modern times,” wrote AMLO in the letter.
AMLO also “took advantage” of the opportunity to ask the Vatican to allow Mexico to borrow artifacts from the colonial period, including maps of the Tenochtitlán pyramids and the Borgia Codex, which depicts colorful imagery and stories of the gods, as well as rituals from ancient central Mexico.
The loan would coincide with the commemoration of the invasion of Spanish colonizers.
No response yet from the Holy See, but odds are that the Pope was not amused.
Good for the Goose, Not for the Gander
Ever since she assumed the position in December of last year, María Elena Álvarez-Buylla Roces, the head of Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt), has adamantly advocated for the end of government financial trust funds (fideicomisos) because of claims that they are “sources of corruption and a means of funneling resources to other areas.”
As it turns out, she was essentially shooting herself in the foot.
A recent federal fiscal report found that Álvarez-Buylla Roces had herself received 17.228 million pesos from a fideicomiso grant.
Between 2003 and 2015, she had received financing for various of her own research projects, which allowed her to build a reputation with her publications and international conferences, eventually receiving the National Prize for Arts and Sciences from former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
In 2003, while she was studying in Switzerland at the University of Uppsala, her research was also financed by a trust fund.
López Obrador has insisted that the end of the trust fund is due to the discretionary use of the funds and the corruption in the scientific sector.
But this time, the corruption allegations may be hitting a little too close to home.
…Oct. 14, 2020