By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
The covid-19 vaccine rollout in Mexico, which began in December of last year, has been chaotic, to say the least, with allegations of empty syringes, vaccine hoarding, preferential administration for government workers and political maneuvering.
Currently, the government is dishing up a hodgepodge of both one-dose and two-dose vaccines (some internationally verified, some not) from a geographic smörgåsbord of countries across three continents, and it’s pretty much potluck what vaccine those lucky few who manage to get on the qualifying lists end up with in their arms.
Meanwhile, Mexican private sector physicians, who have risked their lives on the frontline war with covid for more than a year now, are being denied access to vaccines, while President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) glorified army of 120,000 covid brigadiers (only 20,000 of whom are actual medical personnel, the rest are members of the Army and political supporters of AMLO) prioritize whatever group the president decides to favor at the moment.
But despite the disorder and bedlam that has ensued, the AMLO administration, according to Mexico’s Public Health Secretariat, has managed to administer 13.4 million covid-19 inoculations over the course of the last four months, which, depending on the type of vaccine used, would suggest that it has immunized (at least partially) nearly 10 percent of the nation’s 130 million-strong population (compared to roughly 43 percent of the U.S. population that has been vaccinated).
But while there can be no denying that political favoritism and AMLO’s whimsical prioritizations have impeded an optimum and pragmatic rollout of covid vaccines in Mexico, the entire blame for the current vaccine shortage does not rest entirely on the government’s shoulders.
It turns out that, when it comes to covid-19 vaccines, Mexico is not always getting what it pays for.
Although the government promised to have 51 million covid vaccines available by March, the country has so far only received about 18 million vaccines from suppliers, or roughly 35 percent of that figure.
In other words, the supplier nations are reneging on their deals, even though in many cases Mexico has already forked up payment in advance for the medications.
In the case of Russia, for example, Mexico agreed to purchase 24 million doses of Sputnik V for March, and but 900,000 doses have arrived.
China was supposed to provide Mexico with 10 million doses of the CanSino vaccine by May, but has only delivered 4.5 million doses.
Last week, AMLO decided to send Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard abroad to do a little diplomatic arm-twisting, but in the meantime, the government has had readjust its vaccine goalposts.
In January, the administration was planning to have all elderly Mexicans vaccinated by the end of March. Instead, it is now mid-April and less than 10 million of the country’s 15 million over-60 citizens have gotten even a first dose.
The panorama for the future is even more dismal: India, which produced about 60 percent of the world’s total vaccines and which AMLO hoped would be his ace in the hole for vaccine reserves, is now facing its own covid crisis (with more than a quarter of a million new cases detected on Sunday, April 18, alone), so the Narendra Modi government has started to abandon its vaccine export program in favor of meeting national demand and production slows to a crawl.
In recent months, AMLO has gone out of his way to insult and offend his U.S., Canadian and European trade partners who he is now calling on to help bail him out of Mexico’s covid-19 vaccine mess.
So what is that old saying about biting the hand that feeds you?
EU Envoy Calls AMLO Out on Electricity Reform
Just in case AMLO missed the memo from investors (he didn’t, he just ignored it), the new European Union Ambassador to Mexico Gautier Mignot sent a loud and clear message to López Obrador on Friday, April 16.
“European investors are not happy,” Mignot told El Universal newspaper in an interview published on Sunday, April 18.
“For investors to carry out projects in any country, they need to have legal stability and clarity of what the rules are … There is currently great dissatisfaction among European businessmen who invest in Mexico regarding the reform of the electricity industry.”
Mignot went on to say that European businessmen who invested in Mexico “in good faith,” are now facing a loss in profitability due to arbitrary retroactive rule changes.
In keeping with his role as a diplomat, Mignot called on the Mexican government to open a dialogue with investors to try to find a mutually agreeable resolution.
The alternative is a loss of fresh and existing investment from European companies, which currently boast about $180 billion in capital holdings in Mexico.
Taking INE to Court
After come-hell-or-high-water-I’ll-be-governor-of-Guerrero precandidate Félix Salgado Macedonio got yet another door closed on his dogged pursuit of the gubernatorial candidacy for AMLO’s leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena), the party’s Chamber of Deputies majority leader Ignacio Mier decided on Friday, April 16, to launch a legal challenge against the head of the National Electoral Institute (INE), Lorenzo Córdova (whose life Salgado Macedonio already threatened last week).
Mier said that he would defend Salgado Macedonio’s right to run for office (along with a dozen or so other Morena candidates who also violated campaign registration rules) to the bitter end.
Conveniently, Mier did not, however, make any reference to the fact that Salgado Macedonio blatantly violated established INE electoral policies (grounds for which numerous candidates from other parties have been eliminated), is accused of multiple rapes or is under indictment for embezzling and taking bribes from drug lords.
Clearly, Morena is out to win and control every aspect of Mexican legal and political life, regardless of the law and rules of play.
And with an already-Morena-stacked judicial system, odds are very likely that Morena (read AMLO) will get its way.
Such is the democrat process in Mexico…
…April 19, 2021