AMLO got the 'rona

Will Sinaloa Cartel sell weed… legally?

By the time you are reading this you’ll most likely have already heard that President López Obrador tested positive for Covid-19. However, there is now a vacuum of information left by the authorities that is being filled by media outlets (some less serious than others). In this week’s edition, we offer a quick summary of the moments leading to the President’s announcement and the last updates on his health status.

México Desde Afuera wishes the President a full and speedy recovery.

As always, if you have any question about this week’s edition (like why was AMLO not vaccinated?) or anything happening in Mexico (like International Banks being fined by local authorities) please do not hesitate to reply to this email and ask us. We will be more than happy to answer. 

AMLO has corona

Bloomberg / Los Angeles Times
Above: The President, one day after testing positive for Covid-19, taking a call from Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The President is said to still be working, but isolating himself from everyone (except the photographer of this picture)..

On Sunday evening, Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador tweeted that he had tested positive for covid-19. Shortly after, recovery wishes were sent from everyone - including friends and enemies, from Justin Trudeau to Nicolás Maduro. However, almost immediately after his diagnosis, suspicions started to arise from the timeline of events. 

That weekend, the President had been touring Nuevo León and San Luis Potosí. According to his spokesman, Jesús Ramirez, he felt congested on Saturday and took a test there. The next day he had a fever and other minor symptoms, and even took a mild medication to bring down his temperature. Nonetheless, he boarded a commercial flight back to the capital and tweeted his results shortly after he landed. It remains unknown if he already had the positive results prior to boarding the plane.

Since then he has remained at the Palacio Nacional, where he lives with his family. Other than “he’s doing fine, and is calm and strong”, almost no information has been provided about his condition - health authorities have cited privacy rights. AMLO, who is known for his active presence on Twitter and Youtube, has been absent - for his daily morning press conference (the mañanera) he has had a substitute fill in for him, the Minister of the Interior, Olga Sanchez Cordero, who, btw, was in contact with the President during the weekend but refused to self-isolate.

Most media outlets have pointed out that Lopez Obrador suffered a heart attack in December 2013. In the tragic event that the President is unable to fulfil his duties, Minister Sanchez Cordero would become President for a 60 day period and the Congress would elect a President for the remaining part of AMLO’s term (until October 2024). If in the even more tragic event that Minister Sanchez Cordero also dies, a Deputy Minister of the Interior would fill in the 60 day period. 

  • Eurasia Group wrote in a note that this scenario could have “major implications” for Mexico’s political stability, as the President serves as the glue that holds together the ruling Morena party

He is not the only one. Mexico’s richest man, and once the world’s richest, Carlos Slim, 80, also announced through a family member that he was diagnosed with Covid-19 since last week. The 23rd-richest person with a $55.3 billion fortune was hospitalised yesterday at a prestigious public hospital.

👴 Mexico’s population is older, better educated and less religious

Inegi (the country’s statistics agency) published the results of the 2020 census, in which it found that there are 126 million people living in Mexico, of which 51.4% are women. Among some of the interesting findings are:

  • Over 2.5 million people (2.0%) identified as Afro Mexicans or of African descent. This is the first time a Census incorporated such terms

  • The median age rose to 29 from 26 in 2010

  • The average level of education increased to 9.7 years from 8.6 (2010) and 7.5 (2000)

  • Among those 12 years or older, 76% of males were employed but only 49% of women had a job.

  • Those who reported not having a religion increased from 4.7% (2010) to 8.1%

  • According to Inegi, 106,658 people died of covid-19 between January and August 2020. Back in August, the Health Ministry reported only 64,414 deaths

Associated Press

🇷🇺 Sputnik V vaccine’s mysterious approval process

Only Pfizer’s vaccine is being distributed in Mexico - with an announced delay - the government is doing everything it can to import more vaccines. At the moment, they are focused on Russia's Sputnik V and China’s CanSino (both have not been authorized by the local medical safety commission, Cofepris). In what seems like a “spy drama”, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell happily explained how Mexico is close in getting the Russian vaccine. After being denied information on the vaccine by the Russian government, he travelled to Argentina (currently vaccinating its population with Sputnik V) to get a hold of the extremely confidential information. 

After talks between both governments, including a call between AMLO and Vladimir Putin, Mexican authorities expect to receive 24 million doses in the upcoming two months. Weeks have passed since Lopez-Gatell’s visit to Argentina and the government’s Cofepris hasn’t authorised it yet - still, this week a Mexican official happily announced that around 200,000 doses will arrive next week.  Associated Press

🇬🇹 Central American Migrants, the main target in a Massacre in Northern Mexico 

19 charred bodies, many with gunshot wounds and all too badly burned to be identified, were recovered in Tamaulipas on Saturday along a popular migrant smuggling route. It is believed that at least 13 of the victims (10 men, 3 women) were migrants headed to the US from the San Marcos province in Guatemala. Their relatives have submitted DNA samples and are awaiting identification. The area near Camargo, Tamaulipas is known for violent territorial disputes between organized crime as it is a major transfer point for drugs and migrants. The Gulf cartel and the Northeast cartel (remnants of the Zetas) control the surrounding areas. When asked about this, the Minister of the Interior, Olga Sánchez Cordero, said she already had a lot of information but declined to provide it as investigations are still ongoing.  Reuters

🌿 Weed legalization good news for the Sinaloa Cartel 

Weed legalization will hurt the drug cartels, right? Well, not if they are the ones that are selling it. According to the Daily Beast, the Sinaloa cartel is working as hard as it can to be able to participate in the legal market in Mexico, which should receive final approval in the lower house by April. They are preparing front organizations, gathering teams of lawyers, and improving their growing infrastructure to harvest more potent weed. Mexican cartel weed sales have fallen in the US recently due to the quality not being up to snuff, so these changes could be a boom for them in international markets. Ultimately a sad prospect for Mexico, as the cartels’ increased wealth will inevitably fuel more corruption and violence. Daily Beast

🎥 Mexican storytellers don’t have the luxury of creating apolitical work

This LA Times profile of the up-and-coming filmmaking duo Fernanda Valdez and Astrid Rondero gets deep about their latest feature: Sin señas particulares. The movie follows the story of Magdalena, a middle-aged woman turned amateur investigator on a quest to find her missing son, dead or alive. Valdez commented that “only through a mother’s eyes can one barely begin to understand the horror of the failed system that exists in Mexico”.  LA Times

What else we’ve been reading:

A Deeper Understanding of Mexican Food at Gastronomy Underground [The New Yorker]

Hotels In Mexico Add Easy & Cheap Coronavirus Testing [CNBC]

Inside Kendall and Kylie Jenner’s $7K-per-night Mexico villa [NY Post]

Netflix will invest over 300 million dollars in production in Mexico and open an office this year [Entrepreneur

Even though US Ambassador Christopher Landau AKA the Ambassador that bullied a college student, flew back his post, he is still kind of obsessed with Mexico.

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Biyuyo: Money (but don’t try using the word)

Context: AMLO was criticising private renewable energy companies