On June 13, as Mexico surpassed 17,000 pandemic-related deaths and the country’s novel coronavirus contagion curve showed no signs of turning downward, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador released a video with what he called “a decalogue to emerge from coronavirus and face the new reality.” The video, recorded in one of the grand hallways inside the National Palace, showed López Obrador at his most vacuous. There were no mention of serious public policies or new health measures to contain the pandemic, much less any announcement of urgent economic assistance. Instead, López Obrador offered a litany of banalities.
In the video, the president suggested Mexicans should try “to be happy” and remain “optimistic.” They must “reject selfishness” and “consumerism.” They should go out, “be free” and “enjoy the sky, the sun and fresh air.” López Obrador also recommended eating beans and corn (“that blessed plant”) and tells citizens to consider raising chickens in their backyards, a custom he laments has been lost to modernity. Finally, he says, people should look for an ideal, “a utopia.”
“We will only be happy if we are good,” he preaches, pausing on every word.AD
This was not his first “decalogue.” In February, he reacted to growing outrage against gender violence with a similar list that included statements like “women should be respected” or “those who attack women should be punished.” But Saturday’s sermon should not be dismissed as just another ill-advised attempt to replace public policy with demagoguery. Behind López Obrador’s “respectful” advice to the Mexican people lies a darker truth: He has chosen to leave Mexicans to fend for themselves.
This should come as no surprise. Over the last few months, López Obrador utterly abandoned his responsibility in the fight against COVID-19. He irresponsibly downplayed the risks of the pandemic, much like others with similar populist dispositions. He also ignored the most basic social distancing and hygiene norms. In true Trumpian fashion, he still refuses to wear a face mask…
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