AMLO says he has the first “post-neoliberal” government in Mexico. Yet his administration acts exactly like the “neoliberal” governments of Carlos Salinas, Ernesto Zedillo, Calderon, and Peña in terms of its preferential treatment and reaction to the foreign press. The difference: Salinas, Zedillo, Calderon, and Peña operated, lobbied and wooed the foreign correspondents, the Lopez Obradoristas come out to disqualify their work and accuse them of “conspiracy.
Recent articles in newspapers in other countries, such as those of The New York Times, El País from Spain, The Financial Times or The Wall Street Journal, have criticized the handling of the pandemic and denounced the concealment or manipulation of figures to minimize the impact of Covid19 among Mexicans. Those publications not only had a substantial effect on the mood of AMLO’s 4T but deserved immediate reactions in Twitter messages and even video responses from 4T officials. Those same questions have been made by Mexicans, whether in journalistic investigations or by medical or scientific specialists and using Carlos Salinas’s words: “they neither see nor hear them.” When they do, their response is to label them as “conservative,” “opposition,” or “partisan interests.”
It is not wrong that they are so sensitive to what influential newspapers in other countries say. Still, it is terrible that they overreact when they are criticized in the foreign press while minimizing and despising internal criticism.
In this, they are similar to the neoliberal governments that the president so often questions and repeats daily that “we are not equal. Salinas and Zedillo also let nothing from the foreign press go unanswered in their governments, while, particularly Zedillo, was lazy and even rejected by the national media.
But if in the 4T they decide to respond to the questions coming from the outside, at least they should do so with something more than disqualifications, statements, and accusations of “suspected conspiracy” against some of the world’s most-read newspapers. That is precisely what Undersecretary Hugo López-Gatell did on Friday; far from responding punctually to the grave accusations of “hiding figures” and trying to minimize the real size of the pandemic and the deaths from Covid in the country, the official dedicated himself to making political statements, while accepting the underreporting of cases of “atypical pneumonia” that “did not reach the Covid test.”
The most delicate issue was Lopez-Gatell, confirming the ideologization and politicization of the person responsible for the national strategy against Covid. He dared to suggest a “conspiracy” from the foreign press for “the coincidence of the notes with the peak day of contagion” in Mexico. It is quite interesting the fact that in the video, undersecretary Gatell questions and disqualifies the investigations of the foreign correspondents; however, he never denied the accusations.
Perhaps since Mr. López-Gatell is dazzled by so many spotlights and maybe dizzy with fame, he believes that it is the same to respond to the reports of foreign journalists as to return to the reporters who come to his daily conference. Perhaps he thinks the “front row” reporters will applaud him just like they do the president since he is the “star of the moment.”
Seem Dr. Lopez Gatell, loves to deliver his daily monologue of more than an hour, answers questions and reads poetry instead of addressing the questioning, the inconsistencies of his strategy, and the methodology of his measurements.
What Lopez Obrador has to realize, is that the questioning from abroad will continue and will inevitably increase in tone. On Sunday, May 10, the Los Angeles Times published a report by journalist Andres Martinez that begins: “A narcissistic leader who believes the global coronavirus pandemic is a conspiracy against him. Ahead of state who stubbornly refuses to accept any criticism or take any action that other world leaders have taken to protect their populations. The report is titled: “Mexico’s President Is as Inattentive as Trump to Coronavirus Crisis,” and says that “Americans should be very concerned about what is happening as the coronavirus spreads in Mexico, where President Lopez Obrador sometimes behaves like his White House counterpart.
So if in AMLO’s 4T they are going to follow the policy of responding to any negative criticism from the foreign press, while ignoring and snubbing the criticism from home, they should start by defining a competent spokesperson who, first, is not like the president, who does not understand what he is told in English. Still, neither does he ask for it to be translated. Second, if they are going to respond, they should do so with arguments and specific explanations, and not with conspiracy theories like the ones Lopez-Gatell suggest.
José E. Urioste Palomeque
For Times Media Mexico