So the coronavirus is in full swing and the president’s administration is encouraging people to stay home. The state government of Yucatán has gone even further, telling people they could face up to three years in prison for violating quarantine rules if they are sick with Covid-19, are showing symptoms, or have been in contact with an infected person.
It’s hard to see how they’d actually enforce that, at least without the risk of gross human rights violations.
Pair that with AMLO refusing to get tested for Covid-19 even though he’s very obviously been exposed (and if he has been in infected, spread it to countless people), and we have a very strange situation here indeed.
Then there’s the interaction with El Chapo’s mother: a warm greeting, a comment that he’d received her letter.
I’m sorry, what? What exactly is going on here?
According to López Obrador, he has a “responsibility to listen to the concerns of all Mexicans,” and El Chapo’s mother is no exception. Come on. Behaving as if the mother of one of Mexico’s most notorious drug kingpins is a poor, disadvantaged, bullied character is just beyond ridiculous.
Along with my “conservative/neoliberal adversaries,” I’d also like to know how it came to be that she found an audience with him. The fact that they have a relationship, especially for a president who claims every day that he’s fighting corruption tooth and nail, bothers me. A lot.
Anyone who’s regularly read my column knows that I’ve been a fan of AMLO for a long time. That said, I’m not so blind in my devotion and admiration that I’ll avert my gaze if it’s clear he’s going off the deep end. This is the leader of the country, after all.
It’s been very popular since the election to compare AMLO to Trump, two populist leaders with fiercely loyal followings (it’s worth noting, however, that only one of them clearly won the popular vote). I always felt annoyed and grumbled when someone did it, but lately the similarities have been coming into horrifying focus.
The difference, I think (I hope), is that while Trump can do no wrong in the eyes of his supporters — his version of “they’re trying to undermine me!” no matter how ridiculous, is always believed by his base. Not all AMLO enthusiasts in Mexico simply “fall in line” behind his claims.
Is the opposition trying to undermine him? Almost certainly, but what’s new? That’s just politics. The leader of a country (be it this one or my own) behaving like a victim brings out the worst kind of contemptuous feelings in me.
Another similarity between them is the dismissal of the seriousness of the pandemic right up until the moment they couldn’t deny its seriousness any longer. Both insisted for quite a long time — AMLO up until last week even — that things weren’t that bad. As some governors in the U.S. follow Trump’s dismissive attitude, the United States has predictably been one of the hardest hit.
I pray that Mexico doesn’t follow that exact pattern, but with AMLO’s increasingly bizarre comments, accusations, and refusals to follow the safety guidelines put forth by his own government, my hope is dwindling.
His argument of “conservatives and neoliberals want me self-isolating so they can steal power” is ludicrous. Why, it’s almost as ridiculous as “the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases (Dr. Anthony Fauci) is trying to undermine the Trump presidency.”
It’s not as if AMLO has to be physically present everywhere at the same time in order to rule. It’s as if he didn’t believe that phones or the internet existed. Couldn’t they just stick a tablet with a video of him on top of a robot or something? I saw it on a sit-com once. Seriously, solutions to “being somewhere” these days aren’t hard.
Luckily for us, there are some grown-ups in the room both down here and in the so-called “deep state” up there. Let’s hope they can see us through.
Sarah DeVries writes from her home in Xalapa, Veracruz.