AMLO’S message – More of the same populism

This is the stenographic version of Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s message issued by the ‘Office of the President’

Friends, Mexicans, citizens:

I submit this quarterly report amid uncertainty over the coronavirus’ ravages on the health, economy, and well-being of our people.
First of all, I express my recognition and solidarity to all Mexicans who, with much sacrifice, have joined the prevention measures recommended by the Ministry of Health.

In particular, I express my condolences to the families of those who have fallen ill or lost their loved ones in this contingency.
It is essential to express to them, with absolute adherence to the truth, what we have been doing and will continue to do to face this transitory crisis and to restore social, productive, and political normality to the country’s public life as soon as possible.

I anticipate that, despite the sorrows, we will come out ahead, because our strengths as a nation outweigh our weaknesses or shortcomings.
Let us not forget that the culture of our people, which is not as intangible as is usually thought, has always saved us and allowed us to recover from earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, epidemics, tyrannies, corrupt governments and from corruption, which has been the most tragic and disastrous of Mexico’s plagues and calamities.

The Emergency Program for Welfare and Employment that I will present to you is part of the postulates of the National Development Plan that we have been applying since the beginning of the government. We will maintain unchanged and deepen the actions aimed at the poorest and most vulnerable population of the country.

That is why the first thing we did was to bring forward by four months the payment of the pension for eight million older adults through banks and the personal delivery of 42 billion pesos. We did the same with the allowances for poor children with disabilities.
We are giving 10.5 million scholarships to students at all school levels and at the Benito Juárez Universities, where 15,151 students are studying, and 870 teachers are working.

On the other hand, we have given 356,000 credits from the Tandas para el Bienestar program to small family businesses. In the remaining part of the year, 450,000 more will be added, with an investment of 3.4 billion pesos.
Currently, 230,000 planters have permanent jobs and are busy cultivating their plots. Seven hundred and forty thousand young people work as apprentices and receive a minimum wage. Since the beginning of the government, we have provided support for 47,500 fishers.

The Guarantee Price was established for corn, rice, wheat, beans, and milk, benefiting 107,000 producers.
The Production for Welfare program, formerly Procampo, was extended to indigenous communities and sugarcane and coffee producers, with an investment of 11 billion pesos. Currently, two million 145 thousand community members, ejidatarios (farmers), and small landowners receive this support.

This year, poor producers in the states of Puebla, Tlaxcala, Morelos and the State of Mexico will join those of Guerrero as beneficiaries of free fertilizers.

To date, the budget for the maintenance of 23,000 schools, delivered directly to the societies of mothers and fathers, amounts to four billion pesos.
We continue to build concrete roads with the participation of the communities of Oaxaca, we have finished 25 and are working on 84 more.
We are advancing in the construction of rural roads and the maintenance, construction, and modernization of highways in the 32 states of the country with a global investment of 28 billion pesos.

Construction continues on the Toluca-Mexico City Train, and Line 3 from Zapopan to Guadalajara has been completed. The construction program of dams and irrigation channels has not been stopped.
The reconstruction program in towns affected by the 2017 earthquakes continues to operate, and we have improved urban spaces in 324 neighborhoods in 14 municipalities, both on the border and in the country’s tourist centers.

Infonavit has granted 619,000 credits, restructured 186,000, and removed debts from 53,000 workers who had paid 90 percent of their loans, who are now being given their deeds. The housing rehabilitation or construction program has benefited 17,800 families in marginalized areas.
The Internet for All program has already connected 22,000 communities, and this year a total of 75,000 locations will be connected through this medium. In 2022 we will fulfill the commitment and goal of covering the entire national territory.

Similarly, we have already begun the construction of 2,700 branches of the “Banco de Bienestar” to bring this service closer to the people, to provide cards, and to stop handling cash for social programs.

Although little, not as we would like, we have made progress in reducing the incidence of crime. In the January-March quarter of this year, homicides declined by 0.3 percent, kidnappings by 25.8 percent, vehicle theft by 11.1 percent, and general robbery in all its forms by 6.6 percent, compared to the same period last year.

I recall that the strategy to guarantee peace is based on addressing the root causes of violence; that is, no poverty, no family disintegration, no loss of cultural, moral, and spiritual values.

This strategy is also based on not allowing corruption or impunity, on persevering work, and the professionalism of the Navy, the Army, the National Guard and the Ministry of Public Security and Citizen Protection.
We have eradicated torture, the victims of violence continue to be supported, and the Mexican State is no longer associated with crime. It is no longer the primary violator of human rights.

The promotion of reading continues, and a billion pesos are being used to convert the Chapultepec Forest, including the former Official Residence of Los Pinos, into the most important artistic and cultural space in the world.
In terms of health, I explain that since before the appearance of the coronavirus, we had already visited 80 IMSS-Bienestar hospitals in marginalized areas of 19 states of the Republic.

We had decided to overcome the ruinous state in which the public health system was left.

In this time, we have finished building 72 health centers and hospitals that were unfinished. The Institute of Health for Welfare, Insabi, was created to guarantee free medical care and medicines to the population without social security.We are working to ensure that there is no shortage of medicines and health personnel, and we are continuing to improve hospital facilities and to give priority to the completion of abandoned works.

We have committed to provide the work base to more than 80 thousand health workers who have been working for a long time as temporary workers during these six years.

All this is backed by the budget approval of an additional 40 billion pesos for the health sector so that when the coronavirus arrived, we were already working on improving the public health system.

Today we have 6,425 intensive care beds with their respective ventilators and the nursing staff of specialized doctors. Anyway, I instructed Admiral Secretary of the Navy, Rafael Ojeda Duran, and General Luis Cresencio Sandoval Gonzalez, Secretary of National Defense, to have the support of these institutions, always characterized by their professionalism and discipline, in the implementation of the Navy and DN-III plans.

I must inform you that both institutions received five billion pesos and work is already underway, soon there will be 1,399 beds, equipment, and specialized medical personnel to provide intensive care to patients of the COVID-19.

Concerning the health actions we have taken to address the epidemic, I would like to highlight the following:
Three months ago, before other governments in the world, we began to inform the population and issue preventive recommendations to avoid hospital overcrowding and more significant loss of human life.

From the very beginning, we decided to leave the management of the entire health strategy to medical specialists and scientists who, by the way, are eminent persons with a social vocation. I reiterate, we politicians are not all-knowing, know-it-alls.

We are much helped, and that is the main thing, by the solidarity of our people and the brotherhood that characterizes our families, which, as I have pointed out on several occasions, the Mexican family is the foremost social security institution in the country. I share with you a fact without triumphalism. Mexico is, after India, the country with the least number of coronavirus infections and the third country with the fewest deaths per number of inhabitants.

We are doing well, but let us not be too confident, let us continue to take care of ourselves at home, as we Mexicans are, in a friendly way, let us continue to take care of our elderly, our sick; unfortunately, there is still time and, according to the specialists, the most challenging part of the epidemic is yet to come.

But I am confident, I think, that we will come out ahead, as it happens when the dedication, honesty, and professionalism of public servants is linked, articulated with the generosity and solidarity of the people.
I would also like to inform you that we have already started with actions to reactivate the economy quickly. We decided not to increase fuel prices, as was done in periods of crisis. Now Pemex sells gasoline at 30 percent less than before the pandemic.

This year we will invest an additional 25 billion pesos for the introduction of drinking water, drainage, pavement and the construction and improvement of 50,000 homes in marginalized areas of 50 municipalities in the country, which will allow us to create 228,000 direct jobs, in addition to the benefits to the inhabitants.

The “Sowing Life” program, which, as we said, provides permanent employment to 230 thousand farmers, will be expanded to 200 thousand more farmers so that they will have work immediately. Similarly, starting next month, 190,000 fishermen will receive direct support.

This year additional support will also be given to the parents’ associations for the maintenance of 31,000 school facilities. We have the resources to hire 45 other doctors and nurses in these nine months.
Likewise, 31,000 people will be recruited to join the Army, the Navy, and the National Guard.

There will be a fund of 35 billion pesos from the Issste to deliver personal loans, ranging from $20,000 to 56,000 pesos per credit, and this will benefit 670,000 workers in the service of the State.

Fovissste and Infonavit will allocate 177 billion pesos to provide housing loans during these nine months to benefit 442,500 workers, housing action that will generate at the same time 270,000 new jobs.

It will continue the program of fiscal incentives and low prices of gasoline and other energy in the northern border area of the country.
No tax increases or new taxes will be created. The commitment to promptly reimburse VAT to taxpayers will be fully implemented, as requested by business sector representatives.

The fiscal time, the official time, dedicated to government publicity will be given to the media, because in this new stage of Mexico’s history the government informs daily and does not need to make propaganda, it trusts, moreover, in the intelligence and wisdom of our people.

I also take this opportunity to say that even with the depreciation of the peso, estimated at 23 percent so far in our government due to this crisis of the coronavirus and the effects on the world economy, despite everything, we are doing the impossible to maintain the commitment of not increasing the public debt.

Here I recall that in the time we have been in government, we have not increased the public debt in real terms.

The construction of the Santa Lucia Felipe Angeles airport, the rehabilitation of the six refineries, and the development of the new refinery in Dos Bocas, Paraíso, Tabasco are still underway.

Now that the price of crude oil has fallen, we will increase gasoline production in the country. We will allocate an additional 400,000 barrels per day for this purpose so as not to waste all the oil for export and to reduce the purchase of fuels abroad. Pemex will have an extra resource of 65 billion pesos because the tax burden will be reduced.

The Federal Electricity Commission, reported, has sufficient funding to build thermoelectric plants needed in the Yucatan Peninsula, Baja California, and other regions of the country.

We have already begun the modernization and expansion of the Isthmus Railroad and the ports of Salina Cruz and Coatzacoalcos. Seven thousand 300 jobs will be generated there this year.

On April 30th, the contract for the construction of the first section of the Mayan Train will be signed. In May we will agree on the creation of four more parts, we will only leave pending for 2022 485 kilometers that we will build with the participation of military engineers, once the work on the General Felipe Angeles Airport in Santa Lucia is finished. My special recognition to the military engineers.

This year, in the five sections comprising 1,043 kilometers of construction of the Mayan Train, we will generate 80,000 jobs. There will be an economic spillover of 35 billion pesos in the states of the southeast of the country.
In sum, social programs and development promoted by the government this year will reach 22 million beneficiaries.

Similarly, 2.1 million personal loans for housing and small family businesses in the formal and informal sectors of the economy will be granted. Also, and this is very important, we are going to create two million new jobs in nine months. I base my optimism on these facts and actions.
Besides, I can show that half of the country’s households are already receiving at least one welfare program and that 95 percent of Mexico’s low-income families are receiving at least one support or benefit.

On December 1, that is my commitment, on December 1 of this year I will be able to say that all the poor people in Mexico already have protection
On December 1, that is my commitment; on December 1 of this year, I will be able to say that all the poor people of Mexico already have the protection and protection of the government that I represent and of the society of solidarity that is Mexico.

It is important to announce that the reform to article 4 of the Constitution was approved to grant pensions to all the elderly in the country, pensions to poor children with disabilities, and scholarships to students from low-income families at all school levels.

And with this reform to article 4 of the Constitution, all Mexicans are also guaranteed the right to free health, medical care, and medicines.
Without a doubt, the most important social reform of recent times. In general terms, I would like to stress that it supports the neediest, the poor, and the population most vulnerable to the coronavirus epidemic.

I also report I repeat, that economic recovery will soon begin on the basis – this is the formula – of increasing public investment in job creation and in providing credit to small family businesses and to those who seek life as best they can daily. We are not going to leave them in the lurch.

To finance this plan without increasing taxes or decreeing gas stations, we will resort to using the savings of the Budgetary Income Stabilization Fund and the resources that were kept in trust. We will also rely on development banking, but above all, the same policy of freeing up supplies will be followed, because the Republican austerity plan will continue even more rigorously.

Unlike other times, when the people were asked to tighten their belts, now it is the government that is tightening its belt, finishing erasing, disappearing, banishing corruption, ending luxuries. Ostentations to reduce the cost of government to society and continue regenerating public life.
In this crisis, I emphasize, it is up to each person to do his or her part.

Specifically, I inform you that I have made a consultation. There is a consensus: the salaries of the high public officials will be lowered, and the salaries of the deputy directors will be eliminated, as well as those of the president of the Republic, the government’s advertising expenses will be reduced, the travel expenses will be reduced, the operating costs will be reduced, and there will be more savings in purchases from suppliers and in the prices of public works that are contracted with construction or service companies.

Resources will also be available because the disposal of ill-gotten gains to common crime, and white-collar crime will be intensified. These gains will be liquidated through auctions or raffles organized by the “Institute for the Return of Stolen Goods.”

I clarify that there will be no dismissal of workers at the service of the state at any level, but that will demand more efficiency, more dedication, more spirit of service, greater austerity, and total honesty.

I can say that we have the support and collaboration of the national private sector. Next week we will announce a public, private, and social investment program for the energy sector for an approximate amount of 339 billion pesos.

I recognize what the bankers of Mexico did, who decided to give an extension, a six-month term in the payment of loans and interest to their small business clients and credit to families.

Finally, I thank all the businessmen who have voluntarily complied with the health emergency indications to stop their non-essential economic and commercial activities, maintaining employment, salaries, and benefits to their workers.

Many employers are demonstrating their humanism, their social dimension.

Friends: Despite the adversities, the transformation of Mexico will not stop. I reiterate, there are more our strengths than our weaknesses, and there are many more citizens who seek real change than those who bet on regression.
This crisis is temporary, transitory.

Soon normality will return, we will defeat the coronavirus, we will reactivate the economy, and Mexico will continue to stand up, showing the world its glory and its greatness.

I understand that the conservatives and those who have prospered under the so-called neo-liberal economic model, which is, by the way, in crisis in the world, know that those who for a long time applied the policy of privatizing profits and socializing losses do not share our vision of development with justice and democracy.

Still, we do not fool anyone, and there is evidence of this. What we are doing is what we have proposed, raised, publicly, and openly sustained for years in the daily struggle and in political campaigns, also for which millions of Mexicans voted.

There’s a lesson we’ve learned well that we don’t forget. From the time of Porfirio Diaz, it has been demonstrated that an economic model that only benefits minorities does not produce general well-being, but, on the contrary, generates public misery and violence.

That is why the economic recovery plan that we are implementing does not fit the neo-liberal or neo-porphyric model. We have already broken the mold used to apply so-called counter-cyclical measures that only deepen inequality further and encourage corruption for the benefit of a few.

The formula we are applying to overcome the transitional crisis, I repeat, is the sum of three essential elements: more significant public investment for economic and social development, full and honest employment, and republican austerity. Nothing will take us back to the past.

I remember what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said in a similar circumstance, during the Great Depression, which began in 1929. This titan of liberties, for me the best president the United States has ever had, even said in those problematic moments he had to face and that he was able to restore development and guarantee the happiness of his people with his policies, as President Roosevelt said: “We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals. We know now that it is bad economics”.

In our country, as we know, in the face of recurring crises, the rulers said that there was no way. For them, the best thing was what they called ‘economic realism.’

What did they always do? They hired more credits, rescued big companies and banks, converted private debts of a few into public debt, established fiscal privileges, increased fuel and public service prices, decreased salaries, fired workers, eliminated, or reduced social security. Now it is not going to be like that. It is not going to be like that. These recipes are not going to be applied.

Now it is first the welfare of the people and then the same, the protection of the people and never again privileges, corruption, looting, and impunity.
We are optimistic. I remember the image of Simon Bolivar, sick, lying in a hammock, almost defeated and in the middle of the desolation, someone asked him: ‘And now what are you going to do, General,’ and the liberator answered, with crazy passion: ‘Triumph, triumph.’

Courage, then, as President Juarez said, ‘He who does not expect to win, is already defeated.’ These are not times for depression, but integrity. Hope, let us not forget, is a mighty force, it is like the good that, even if it did not exist, would have to be invented.

And do not doubt, we will succeed. I am sure that soon, very soon, I am going to call on the people of Mexico to give us hugs in the public squares of the country, because we are going to take to the streets again, without fear or dread, to continue being what our people of Mexico are, dignified and happy, to continue being free, prosperous, fraternal, human.

¡Que viva México!
¡Viva México!
¡Viva México!

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