Only in the United States and Brazil have more people died of Covid-19 than in Mexico. President López Obrador played down the pandemic for a long time.
OAXACA taz | Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will not be vaccinated. At least not initially, said the head of state at the beginning of the week in his daily press conference. After his corona infection two months ago, he still had enough antibodies. Vaccination, the doctors told him, was not essential at the moment.
López Obrador likes to announce good news. “It’s going well,” he repeats over and over. In the opinion of the President, if someone claims otherwise, he is only doing so to harm him. This was also the case last week after it became known that many more people had died of Covid-19 than the government had admitted.
The excess mortality rate has been 321,059 deaths since the beginning of the corona crisis, informed the Ministry of Health. That is more than 60 percent more than the 200,000 deceased that were given shortly before. Accordingly, Mexico, along with Brazil, is one of the countries in which, after the USA, most people died from Covid-19.
“Covering up the true death toll is criminal,” commented journalist Alejo Sánchez Cano in the newspaper The financial. López Obrador denied the allegations. The media would exaggerate the numbers, he said, even though the information came from a ministry. His critics are “immoral because they use human suffering for themselves”. The authorities, on the other hand, are doing everything they can to get the pandemic under control.
“We have overcome the worst”
López Obrador himself repeatedly downplayed the dangers of the virus and enjoyed bathing in the crowd even in the first months of the pandemic. “We have overcome the worst,” he promised a year ago – and received a shake of heads from critics, while his large following believed him.
At the same time, his government tried from the start to secure vaccines. Mexico was the first country in Latin America to start vaccinating at Christmas. Around 7 of the 126 million Mexicans have received an injection since then, and a further million have already been vaccinated twice with Sputnik, AstraZeneca, two Chinese vaccines or that from Biontech-Pfizer.
So-called “servants of the nation” are currently ensuring that people over sixty in remote communities get protection as well as city dwellers. While the specially set up squads in Mexico City are quite well organized, those who want to be vaccinated in other regions often have to endure many hours in the sun. If they even find out that their town is vaccinated.
However, if you compare Mexico with European countries, where the conditions are much better, the country does not come off badly when it comes to vaccination. After all, it is important to supply villages that are often many hours away from a paved road. In addition, economically liberal policies have ruined the health system. Nevertheless, the Covid officer Hugo López Gatell announced that 600,000 people will be vaccinated every day from mid-April.
It is not surprising that Mexico has so many dead. Half of the population lives in poverty, many have to jostle into overcrowded subways or sell their goods in full markets, even in Corona times. In addition, López Gatell had long advocated that mouth and nose coverings were useless and that extensive tests were superfluous.
To this day, anyone can also enter the country unhindered, without a negative test, without quarantine. Therefore, tens of thousands line the beaches of Mexico, mostly without any protection. López Obrador attached great importance to not using reprisals against the population and refrains from curfews and emergency measures such as a massive police and military presence – in contrast to the neighboring Central American countries, where many people suffer from this procedure.
For critics of the president, there is no question that his policies are responsible for the devastatingly fatal record. López Obrador’s biggest mistake was to downplay the pandemic, to use public funds for less important projects and to make political capital from the measures against the virus, said the MP of the opposition party PRD, Verónica Juárez Piña. And commentator Denise Dresser emphasized: “The big lie about containing the pandemic has left irreparable damage.”