By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Despite a dramatic 74 percent uptick in violent crimes, a 7.3 percent increase in poverty, a contraction of the national economy every year since he took office, and, lest we forget, a dismal mismanagement of the covid-19 pandemic that has resulted in the deaths of nearly 260,000 Mexicans (and that’s just based on the official numbers, outside estimates put the number at double that amount), Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) sang his own praises during his third annual State of the Nation Address (Informe) on Wednesday, Sept. 1.
In his 39-minute-long address — seven minutes of which were spent reading off the “results” of a survey conducted by his own office as to his “unwaning popularity” — the leftist president aggrandized himself for what he proclaimed his “successes,” including a historical record in remittances from Mexican migrants living abroad (spurred on by fiscal stimuli in the United States and strong economic growth in that country), a “rise” in foreign investment (even though according to government sources it declined by nearly 12 percent last year), and a 44 percent increase in the minimum wage (not taking into account increased inflation or the fact that at least 28 million Mexicans are either unemployed or underemployed).
“I feel like screaming (my successes) from the rooftops and telling liberal technocrats (i.e., conservatives) to learn from my example,” AMLO boasted.
“I could leave the presidency right now without having a bad conscience.”
Regarding foreign investment, AMLO said that in the first semester of 2021, there was a 2.6 percent rise compared to the same period in 2020.
He also pointed to the fact that the Mexican peso has not seriously devalued since he took office, although it has fluctuated significantly from 25 to the U.S. dollar to just under 20 to the dollar.
AMLO likewise noted that Mexico’s stock exchange, or Bolsas de Valores, grew by 28 percent since he took office nearly three years ago, and that inflation, despite a recent uptick, has remained relatively stable.
By the same token, AMLO bragged that Mexico’s Central Bank (Banxico) has reduced interest rates by 3.5 percent, and its foreign reserves, currently as to $205.391 billion, have risen by 18 percent.
It didn’t take long for the president to segue into his favorite topic (besides patting himself on the back), the verbal assault of his opponents, who he collectively called “racist, classist and hypocritical” before then claiming that he “respected” their right to dissent.
After the reading of the allegedly unbiased survey (as stated above, conducted by his own staff) that “proved” his steadfast admiration of the Mexican public, AMLO closed his Informe by thanking the Mexican people for their support.
Topics which AMLO notably did not or barely touched upon during the address included his controversial electricity reform (which has been challenged both by Mexican courts and foreign investors), his plan to incorporate his ever-expanding National Guard into the National Defense Secretariat (Sedena) or his equally controversial Tren Maya tourist train, Dos Bocas oil refinery or over-budget Santa Lucía International Airport projects. He did say that he expected the electricity bill to pass Congress soon.
Meanwhile, while AMLO offered his bombastic auto-exultation inside the National Palace, at least 100 trade union representatives demonstrated across the street in the capital’s main plaza Zócalo.
A few minutes later, members of the National Front for the Defense of Social Security and Solidarity (FNDSSS), who have been demanding the return of their life savings since July, tried to join the protestors but were blocked by police from entering the Zócalo.