By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
After a two-week hiatus inside his private quarters at the National Palace to recover from a bout with covid-19, a somewhat thinner, somewhat paler, but no less opinonated and no less verbose Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) returned to his early morning daily press conferences on Monday, Feb. 8.
And while the Mexican president told reporters that he was “still recovering” from the coronavirus infection, he wore no mask and wasted no time in getting to his usual verbal assaults of those at the top of his political hitlist.
In the course of the two-hour conference, AMLO managed to touch on all the key bases of the “corrupt conservative press,” “the money-hungry, capitalist private corporations” and, of course, the “nay-saying financial analysts” who would dare to question his unbased assurances that Mexico will register a 5 percent growth in 2021.
After a fortnight of the soft-spoken and far more coherant Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero stepping in to spearhead the daily pressers, AMLO’s renewed unbridled rants were jolting at best and disturbing at worst.
A large segment of the president’s Monday press conference was dedicated to attacking those who have criticized his proposed electricity reform bill, now awaiting a rubber-stamp approval in Congress, which would essentially eliminate the use of clean energy generation for the country’s state-run Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) network, prioritizing (also state-owned) carbon-based sources over less polluting options.
Critics of the bill — including the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington and most of the private-sector business organizations in the country — have rightly pointed out that not only would the new regulations lead to potential hazzards for the enviroment and higher light bills for most Mexican consumers, but would blatantly violate the newly minted United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and existing international contracts that Mexico has with numerous investors.
After proudly announcing that he had arranged with the Chinese government to purchase massive doses of the yet-unproved CanSino vaccine, AMLO also took a jab at the United States for “stockpiling” vaccines and leaving poor countries to fend for themselves in their battle against the ongoing pandemic.
He also announced that he will be traveling around the country this week on his usual hand-shaking and vote-courting tours.
Asked repeatedly by reporters if he intended to start wearing a mask now that he has contracted covid-19 (he has famously refused to do so in the past), AMLO immediately responded with an emphatic “no.”
And while those same reporters repeatedly pointed out that the president’s own pointman for managing the pandemic in Mexico, Public Health Undersecretary Hugo López-Gatell, has said that everyone in the country “should wear a mask,” including those who have recovered from the virus or been innoculated against it, AMLO would not budge in his response, simply reiterating that he had no intention to start wearing a face cover, be it for his own protection or to set an example for the rest of the country.
It’s been said a that a smart man learns from his own mistakes and a wise man learns from the mistakes of other, but a fool never learns.
Clearly, AMLO is a case in point.
…Feb. 9, 2021