By RICARDO CASTILLO
Covid-19 Vaccines Politicized
Ever since the Mexican government announcement on Friday, Jan. 15, that “the last batch” of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines — 219,375 vaccine units, to be exact, half the expected number of doses, would arrive in the country Tuesday, Jan. 19, the topic became a focus of a raging political debate.
But at the root of that ongoing debate is nothing more than a bunch ofinformation misunderstandings.
The political confusion began after World Health Organization (WHO) Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reprimanded rich nations for hoarding vaccine supplies and not letting poorer nations — many of which cannot afford to pay for it — have access to the medication.
“It is morally wrong,” he said, and offered the United Nation’s mediation to have top contagion poorer nation receive some of the production, either through payment or free-of-charge.
So far so good.
On Monday, Jan. 18, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) announced the country would help the WHO to divert some of the Pfizer vaccine production to nations “with increased difficulty to access.”
“That is why Pfizer slowed its delivery to Mexico, ” AMLO said.
Unintentionally — or, maybe, intentionally — AMLO ignited his throngs of critics to hit the airwaves, complaining about the administration’s “incompetence” to handle the pandemic and protest against vaccine production sharing, putting the welfare of other nations ahead of that of Mexicans.
By Tuesday, Jan. 19, Pfizer had to issue a press release explaining why it had notified Mexico it would start receiving its contracted share of the production three weeks late, perhaps one month from now.
And a nonpolitical explanation had to come from Mexico’s covid-19 czar, Hugo López-Gatell, who explained, on Monday evening, that the temporary halt in production had nothing to do with the WHO complaint of AMLO yielding to a morality plea.
The hard fact of the matter is that Pfizer’s worldwide production facilities are overwhelmed. The company was forced to stop production at its Belgian plant in order to make an expansion that will possibly double up output.
To do that, Pfizer had to turn off the production line machinery.
Vaccine delivery is expected to restart at in late February.
In the meantime, the Mexican Public Health Secretariat (SSA) announced on Tuesday, Jan. 19, that next week Russia will start delivery of its Sputnik 5, along with the slated delivery of the Chinese CanSino and British AstraZeneca versions of the antigen, “to compensate for the gap created by Pfizer.”
Much ado about nothing? You bet, but then, the next six months is a midterm elections period, and in the midst of a hard-hitting pandemic, every two bottles of the vaccine are worth one vote … from a surviving voter, of course.
Richy Rich is Back
One Mexican politician who suddenly popped up in the stomping grounds is former National Action Party (PAN) candidate Ricardo Anaya, who lost the 2018 presidential election hands down to AMLO.
Anaya, disparaged by political opponents as Richy Rich (Richi Ricón in Mexico). declined a federal deputy candidacy from PAN leader and buddy-buddy Marko Cortés, and, instead, announced he will be a hopeful for the 2024 PAN’s president candidacy.
Anaya began his his campaigning by blasting “the disgraceful presidency of López Obrador” and touting himself as the savior when his time comes around in four more years.
On the other hand, Anaya seems to want to imitate the example of López Obrador, who claims to be the only president of Mexico to have visited each of the 2467 municipalities in the nation.
“Instead of being in an office or in Congress, I will visit all of Mexico’s municipalities,” Anaya said.
He said that he will both promote local candidates and promote his nomination, just the way AMLO did.
Copycat? Maybe, but that strategy worked for AMLO.
Anaya aims to visit 1,000 municipalities this year, for starters.
Morena vs the INE
The two top leaders of the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), party president Mario Delgado and Chamber of Deputies Whip Ignacio Mier Velazco, challenges Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE) nine-to-two vote to hush public officials while the electoral period is on, specifically, from April 4 through election day June 6.
Separately, Delgado and Mier issued similar statements:
“In a democratic and legal state, electoral authorities, in this case, the INE, wield the power to carry out freedom of speech, the free debate of ideas, the confrontation of propositions and to be electoral umpires, but not the instruments of restriction to citizens’ freedoms.” Mier said.
“In an example of persecutory eagerness, similar to a medieval inquisition, the INE took up the task of analyzing the varied content of (AMLO’s) morning conferences, pretending to construct a cause-and-effect relationship,” Delgado said.
The INE responded that it never considered cancelling the president’s morning conferences but, yes, during the electoral period, demand that the president stir clear of politics.
Apparently, this is an issue heading for the Federal Electoral Tribunal, which will have to interpret the electoral laws crafted by the Morena-dominated Chamber of Deputies.
Much of the talk today in Mexico is about how the Joe Biden-López Obrador relationship will develop as of Wednesday, Jan. 20, when Biden will be sworn in as POTUS.
Prophets of doom are claiming that the DEA-Salvador Cienfuegos affair — which involved the former Mexican defense secretary being arrested in California on drug running and money laundering charges and later being released to Mexico, where he was exonerated for all charges — will set the course of a future clash.
This, however, may not be the first issue on their bilateral agenda, which is now spearheaded by the more the caravan of 9,000 Hondurans trying to make it first through Guatemala and next through Mexico, to the U.S. border.
It’s déjà vu all over again for Guatemala and Mexico, whose governments who did fine during a similar previous crisis.
All potential answers to this quagmire have been outlined and considered by both Mexico and the United States, but the migrants want to live in America.
The Peso and Yellen’s Speech
On Tuesday, Jan. 19, U.S. Treasury Secretary appointee Janet Yellen outlined her economic program for 2021 for more government expenditures.
In the eye of dollar-peso traders, the Yellen outline implied an increased weakening of the dollar, which was reflected at currency exchange houses immediately.
On Tuesday afternoon, the peso gained ground against the U.S. dollar, quoting at 19.60 pesos per dollar, down 0.36 percent from the 19.67 quote of Monday, Jan. 18.
Yellen said Biden must “play big” after he announced a $1.9 billion budget to push the economy and avert further damage from the pandemic.
That suggests that it’s time to start buying pesos, folks!
…Jan. 20, 2021