Feb 1, 2021
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has COVID-19.
López Obrador comes out of Mexico’s left, and when he was elected in 2018 he claimed to be leading a movement that would empower the underprivileged and attack inequality and poverty. Even the name of his party, MORENA, refers to the darker-skinned people López Obrador promised to represent.
In this way, López Obrador presents himself as the opposite of Trump or Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro—right-wing presidents in the Americas who have also gotten COVID-19.
But in fact, López Obrador has responded to the COVID-19 crisis much like these right-wingers. Just like Trump and Bolsonaro, he has consistently promoted unproven cures—to say the least! In June, he even claimed that avoiding sin would protect people: “no lying, no stealing, no betraying, that helps a lot to not get coronavirus.”
These are particularly hard sins for a politician to avoid, but that is not why he got sick. López Obrador has consistently refused to wear a mask or socially distance, and has repeatedly posted pictures of himself meeting with various officials or groups of businessmen, maskless, and huddled in close quarters.
On top of his own reckless behavior, he has downplayed the danger of the virus for the Mexican population. In the spring, the New York Times reported that the Mexican government had covered up hundreds or even thousands of deaths in Mexico City. In December, as the current wave of the virus crashed into Mexico just like in the United States, López Obrador’s government claimed the country had not reached the level of infections that would require a new shutdown—even though government statistics showed it had.
López Obrador, this man of the left, has behaved in front of the virus just like the right-wing Trump or Bolsonaro. Just like them, he was afraid of hurting “the economy.” And in Mexico as in the United States or Brazil, “the economy” is code for the interests of the capitalist ruling class that the politicians of all these countries serve, whatever electoral base they might appeal to.