|The Mexican President, however, defended his gesture of shaking hands with El Chapo’s mother. / Photo by Mangostar via Shutterstock|
There are basic protective measures against the new coronavirus, such as proper social distancing and putting the handshake on hold, especially among the elderly as they are more at risk of contagion. This is why Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been attacked for shaking hands with 92-year-old María Consuelo Loera, mother of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, reports BuzzFeed News.
Physical contact during the coronavirus pandemic
López Obrador met Guzman’s mother at her request but his gesture angered Mexicans, who are already frustrated with the reportedly “sluggish” response to the pandemic. The country is now bracing for a spike in Covid-19 cases in the upcoming weeks. In a recent taped message, the President requested people to stay at home although no formal quarantine has yet been implemented.
El Chapo is the former leader of an international crime syndicate the Sinaloa Cartel. He is now serving life in prison in the United States for murder, money laundering, and drug charges.
The Mexican President, however, defended his gesture of shaking hands with El Chapo’s mother. He said a “respectable old lady” wrote him a letter, asking for his help to get permission from the US authorities so she can visit her son. The President said that it will spend on the US government although he believes that Loera may be allowed to go with doctors, sanitarians, and caregivers for humanitarian reasons. The leftist President said his conservative opponent may just be trying to use that encounter to hurt him.
The President has also promised to publish the letter from El Chapo’s mother. “We have nothing to hide,” he said, as quoted by Reuters.
El Chapo’s Sinaloa Cartel caused the Mexican government embarrassment when the security forces captured El Chapo’s son Ovidio Guzman. The cartel gunmen responded with prolonged gunfire in the streets but soon the government ordered Ovidio’s release “to avoid bloodshed.” This sparked criticism of the Mexican security policy.
When the Mexican President met El Chapo’s mother, he said it would have been “disrespectful” of him not to take her hand. “I am not a robot. I have feelings,” he said.
|Mexico’s President, who is also called Amlo, has already given a message that the government is prepared to help the poor during the pandemic. / Photo by Niyazz via Shutterstock|
Mexico: coronavirus case and update
Coronavirus news tracking platform Woldometer shares that there are now 1,087,263 Covid-19 cases in the world. Mexico has 1,510 total cases and 50 deaths. According to separate statistics published online by scientific online publication Our World in Data, Mexico registered its first two coronavirus deaths on March 2 and it gradually increased to 4 confirmed deaths on March 24, 8 deaths on March 27, 8 deaths on March 12, and reaching 37 deaths as of April 3.
Mexico’s President, who is also called Amlo, has already given a message that the government is prepared to help the poor during the pandemic. There is a need to make sure that there is a better distribution of income in the country, he added. But Amlo is believed to be sending a message that the rich won’t get that help amid the coronavirus fight. Last week, he mentioned that there is going to be no “neo-liberalism” tax breaks for big business to soften the economic impact of the pandemic.
Neoliberalism is a policy model, which bridges economics, politics, and social studies. It aims to transfer the control of economic factors from the public sector to the private sector. It tends away from government spending, public ownership, regulation, and focus more on free-market capitalism. His previous words were if people on top are doing well, it means that those in the bottom will also do well. “No, that doesn’t apply anymore,” he went on.
Instead, Amlo promised to help about one million small business loans worth $1.1 billion as well as advance the pension payment to some 8 million senior citizens in the country. The latter plan will be worth $1.8 billion. Political analysts, though, view the President’s move as a sign that he is already looking for the mid-term legislative elections in 2021. The idea is “to maintain the electoral base,” polling firm Gabinete de Comunicacion Estrategica’s director-general Federico Berrueto. That base though may be damaged if serious problems will arise because of the pandemic.
Latin America-focused political analyst Nathaniel Parish Flannery also said that the President doesn’t seem prepared to acknowledge that his response to the pandemic will define his legacy as the President.
Flannery, who authored the book Searching For Modern Mexico, added that the country has a strong industrial sector but 99% of businesses only have one location. Furthermore, nine out of 10 businesses in the country are being run informally. He suggests making the fight against coronavirus the government's number one priority, which means temporarily halting the unrelated infrastructure projects and focus the discretionary spending on equipping hospitals and doctors with the facilities and equipment they need to treat the coming numbers of patients.
The World Economic Forum has ranked Mexico among the lowest decile of nations concerning institutional strength. The country struggles with a higher level of economic informality and poverty compared to Italy and the US. Nearly 60% of the labor force in Mexico do not pay taxes and are working off-the-books. International Labour Organization’s Programme for the Promotion of Formalization in Latin America and the Caribbean notes that informality reduces the tax base and results in higher tax rates for people who fulfill their tax obligations. In times of uncertainty or crisis, the financial system tends to react in a counteractive way but it only accentuates the economic cycle that makes small businesses more vulnerable.
Mexico’s GDP is at 20,660 GDP per capita. Gross Domestic Product is the broadest quantitative measure of the country’s total economic activity. A high GDP means that the country is producing a high amount of stuff and is considered as economic growth. Mexico’s rank is among the lowest in OECD countries.
The coronavirus will need an unprecedented scale of response from the general public and actions from leaders to help control the spread of the virus. Ways to work with industry leaders and business chambers to find solutions to help Mexico pull through the pandemic are needed.