It was still dark when México’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, left his home in a modest vehicle and crossed the Mexican capital to the National Palace to start his workday.
When the bells of the Metropolitan Cathedral rang at 6 a.m., López Obrador was already meeting with his security Cabinet to find solutions to the intolerable violence hammering the country.
He was accompanied before dawn by Government Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero, Public Safety Secretary Alfonso Durazo, and the secretaries of the army, Luis Crescencio Sandoval; and navy, José Rafael Ojeda.
They had all entered the palace, located in México City’s giant main square, the Zócalo, when the enormous Mexican flag has not yet been raised there.
The blaring trumpet that greeted the head of state in the entrance hall of the palace served as López Obrador’s alarm clock that would finish clearing his mind to get a grip on his ideas.
With near-Teutonic punctuality, the president appeared at 7:01 a.m. in a press room crowded with over 100 reporters, photojournalists and videographers.
Expectations ran high about what he might announce, given that he came to power just three days ago, though that was not enough to awaken some of the sleepy faces among the reporters, who also had to get up before first light.
But one who gives warning cannot be called a traitor. The leftist leader had repeated for some time that upon winning the presidency he would restore the traditional morning press conferences that characterized his term as México City mayor between 2000-05.
López Obrador said he wants “a government of the people and for the people,” and knows that the people are early risers. Specifically, 6:30 am is when most Mexicans start opening their eyes, according to a survey by the Mitofsky pollsters.
People of a certain age get up even earlier, as shown by the president, who at 65 was lucid and energetic throughout the conference, even inclined to crack a joke to make the early morning meeting more bearable.
After speaking of salary cuts for senior officials, the smiling president asked reporters to “raise your hand whoever earns more than 150,000 pesos ($7,000)” a month, unleashing fits of laughter around the auditorium.
Meanwhile, the first rays of sunlight appeared through the latticework on the ceiling, illuminating this elegant palace chamber adorned with lamps decorated with golden lions’ heads.
At 7.58 a.m., López Obrador wrapped up the reporters’ round of questions and with an “hasta mañana” and a wave of the hand he bid them farewell.
When they left, the Zócalo was again busy with the usual noise and traffic of downtown México City.
Ayotzinapa truth commission established
México’s new head of state, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, on Monday at the National Palace signed his first presidential decree establishing a truth commission tasked with getting to the bottom of the 2014 abduction and presumed murders of 43 students from Ayotzinapa teacher’s college.
The panel must be established within “no more than 30 working days” and will be made up of relatives of the youths, representatives of various government departments and specialists who are part of an autonomous team, the undersecretary of human rights, Alejandro Encinas, said.
In this way, the new government will attempt to go beyond the official version presented by the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto, which has been discredited by international experts.
On the night of Sept. 26, 2014, students from the Ayotzinapa Normal School, a rural all-male teacher training college known for its leftist activism, were attacked in Iguala, Guerrero, after they commandeered buses (a traditional practice) to travel to México City for a protest.
Six people – including three students – were killed, 25 were injured and 43 students were abducted.
The Peña Nieto government said the students were killed by a local drug gang after being abducted by municipal cops acting on the orders of Iguala’s corrupt mayor and that their bodies were incinerated at a waste dump in the nearby town of Cocula.
Almost every element of the official account has been shredded.
Mexican and international experts concluded that the bodies could not have been disposed of in the way described by the government, while leaked reports from the AG’s office established the involvement of federal police and military personnel in the Iguala violence.
Encinas, who will head the new investigation, said that the reports created by different entities that have investigated the case will be reexamined, including those from the international Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts and México’s National Human Rights Commission.
López Obrador said that the truth commission will encounter “no obstacle” in carrying out its work and that the government will await the result of the probe.
“We are going to respect the autonomy of the other branches, but this is a matter of state, which is very important to all Mexicans,” he said.
López Obrador expects to speak soon with Trump about migration issue
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Wednesday that he expects to speak very soon with his US counterpart, Donald Trump, regarding the migration issue, adding that he has “good relations” with the U.S. leader.
“It’s very probable that we’ll be talking in the next few days with President Donald Trump about this matter in particular, regarding the migration phenomenon,” said López Obrador, who took office on Dec. 1, at his regular morning press conference.
When questioned about the thousands of Central American migrants who joined caravans and have been moving northwards through México since mid-October en route to the US border, he said that his administration will deal with migration in a “comprehensive” way.
“And it’s very important to us to arrive at an investment agreement between business and the government to push productive activity and create jobs in Central America and in our country. This is the option that we have for dealing thoroughly with the migration problem,” said the leftist leader.
López Obrador on Saturday signed a plan to push development in the countries of the Northern Triangle, which includes El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Regarding the US, he said that “there is communication” about the issue, which he called “ongoing and good.”
López Obrador also spoke about plans to sell the presidential jet, currently being housed in a hangar in California while a buyer is sought.
He said that the aircraft costs 500 million pesos (about $24 million) per year, not counting the cost of official helicopters.
When asked whether the US might be interested in buying the plane, López Obrador responded: “I’d like it if a government would buy it, but there have been no responses. There were offers to rent it and they even wanted to rent the presidential hangar, but the plans are to sell the entire (presidential) fleet.”