By RICARDO CASTILLO
Alfonso Romo Quits
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) chief of staff for the past two years, entrepreneur Alfonso Romo, turned in his resignation on Wednesday, Dec. 2.
Speaking during his morning press conference on Thursday, Dec. 3, AMLO that Romo “will continue to be my liaison with the business sector.”
“The truth is that he became a public official just because of our friendship,” the president explained.
“We agreed he’d be with me for two years and that term is up.”
For those in the political know in Mexico, Romo’s resignation was foreseeable when at a business convention earlier in the week he declared that the president was managing the economy “not as one that is contracting by 9 percent, but as one that is growing at 9 percent.”
Romo and AMLO had had disagreements on several occasions during the past two years, but he was not fired.
In fact, Romo’s efforts were appreciated by AMLO, who for the last two years viewed him as the buffer in his constant clashes with the entrepreneurial class.
And with the exit of Romo, AMLO said Thursday that the position of presidential chief of staff would cease to exist.
34.4 Million Vaccines Secured
Mexico’s Health Secretariat signed an agreement with Pfizer Laboratories to buy an initial 34.4 million vaccines over the course of the next 12 months.
Expectations, for now, are that the first 250,000 doses will arrive soon, possibly during December.
The first batch will be used to inoculate healthcare personnel working directly with covid-19 patients.
The acquisition was made immediately after Great Britain approved the Pfizer vaccine.
A mass vaccination campaign is due to start in England as early as next week.
Mexican Public Health Secretary Jorge Alcocer Varela made the announcement of the initial purchase via Twitter, while AMLO said the public health officials in charge of controlling the pandemic would offer a full disclosure of the initial plans and long-range logistics on Tuesday, Dec. 8.
Meanwhile, the number of covid infections in Mexico continues to rise, reaching a total of 1,133.613 confirmed cases and 107,565 deaths as of Thursday, Dec. 3.
The government has declared its intent to obtain a total of 200 million vaccines from different suppliers in order to vaccinate almost all of the Mexican population.
AMLO Has “Different Figures”
On Tuesday, Dec. 1, conservative Mexican dailies El Financiero and Reforma surprised readers by publishing the results of two separate public opinion polls registering a 5 percent increase in AMLO’s popularity .
El Financiero, whose columnists tend to badmouth the president on a daily basis, said that the amount of Mexicans who approve of the way AMLO runs the nation increased from 59 to 64 percent, while those who disapprove downsized from 38 percent to 33 percent.
On the other hand Reforma, which AMLO constantly accuses of being “an infamous rag,” had to admit that in its poll, the president’s approval rate increased from 56 percent to 61 percent.
During his annual State of the Nation Address on Tuesday, Dec. 1, AMLO included a reference to these reports, claiming, “I have different figures,” a phrase often used by him to contradict critics.
He said that according to a private poll carried out by the Interior Secretariat. if the vote to recall his mandate were held today, “71 percent” would vote for him to stay.
“We’re happy with this last figure,” he said.
After the 10-member Federalist Alliance of Governors, made up of governors who are at odds with AMLO, demanded he meet with them to discuss their concerns over tax distributions, López Obrador rejected their request on Wednesday, Dec. 2, claiming, “I will not let them use the presidential investiture merely for their electoral objectives.”
AMLO also said the governors want to “gang up” against the fiscal pact between the federal and state governments.
“They want to use us,” AMLO said, referring to himself in the first person plural.
“They want to come here (to the National Palace), and then walk out and make statements just to gain publicity. That’s not going to happen. It’s not serious politics.”
The governors immediately retorted, claiming AMLO is confusing his priorities.
“Let’s first take serious care of the health and economic crisis before thinking about the 2021 midterm elections,” the Federalist Alliance of Governors said.
“We’re not looking to show off; we’re seeking solutions.”
The Federalist Alliance — which includes the governors of the states of Durango, Chihuahua, Jalisco, Tamaulipas, Michoacán, Colima, Coahuila, Guanajuato, Nuevo León and Aguascalientes — reiterated that it was concerned by AMLO’s rejection and need leadership.
“We want to add, not to divide,” its members said.
Nevertheless, it looks like AMLO will continue to deny the governors a joint gathering.
According to a poll sponsored by the daily newspaper El Universal, the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) is favored to maintain the majority at 500 Chamber of Deputies seats, since 32 percent of voters intend to vote for the leftist party in 2021.
The conservative National Action Party (PAN) is in second place according to the poll, with 17 percent, and the once-almighty “steamroller” Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) is in third place, with 16 percent of polled voters.
Way behind, tied at 4 percent each, are the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), the Green Party (PVEM) and the Labor Party (PT).
Three new parties, the Solidary Social Encounter Party (PES), the Progressive Social Networks (RSP) and the Social Force for Mexico (FSM) show only 1 percent of the vote each.
Elections will be held on June 6, 2021.
Meanwhile, intramural politicking is running amok in all the states where there will be an election for governor.
One such case is that of the PAN in Baja California, where the former governor, Ernesto Ruffo Appel, has said that PAN leader Marko Cortés wants “to make a pact” with the PRI for an alliance to launch a jointly backed candidate for governor.
The problem is that gambling tycoon Jorge Hank Rohn, owner of the Caliente casinos brand, has the Baja PRI by the throat while supporting former PAN Governor Kiko Vega.
Regarding this type of coalition, former Senator and current PAN-attached Secretary General Cecilia Romero, said that these sort of alliances made her nauseous, but agreed to allow it.
And in Nuevo León, the biggest prize in the upcoming midterm elections, Federal Deputy Tatiana Clouthier will hold a press conference to announce that she is participating in the contest to elect the Morena candidate for governor.
Friday, Dec. 4, is the deadline for registration.
Clouthier was the leading organizer of AMLO’s candidacy 2018 electoral campaign.
Peso Gains Ground
The Mexican peso has kept a steady gain against the U.S. dollar throughout the week.
Although the central bank Banco de Mexico (Banxico) quoted the “fixed” rate at 20.32 pesos to the dollar on Thursday, Dec. 3, by midday, banks such as BBVA Bancomer and Citibanamex were purchasing dollars for as low as 19.31 pesos and selling then at 20.37 pesos each.
Banorte was buying at 18.70 pesos to the dollar and selling at 20.10 peso per dollar.
…Dec. 4, 2020