The daily press conference of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO as he is known, is one of a kind in the world.. There is no Head of State who gives a one or two-hour-long press conference nor exposes themselves in this way from the inquisitive eyes of the press.
The current government is the most scrutinized in the history of Mexico, there has never been any other government constantly questioned and attacked by the corporate media as with this government, the most legitimate in the recent times of the Mexican democracy. This freedom of the press was not achieved by the opposition journalists or opinion writers, but by President López Obrador’s commitment to making his government as transparent as possible– and his morning press conference is the vehicle to achieve it.
Since he took office on December 1st 2018, the president has reiterated on several occasions that his government is the government of the people, with the people, and for the people. AMLO’s press conference is not just a forum where he answers the media’s questions, but rather an outlet to inform people on the state of the nation and the most relevant decisions taken by the federal government. The preso no only involves AMLO, but his State Secretaries as well.
When needed, secretaries present full detailed information explaining the reasons behind decisions taken. If decisions are based on agreements with non-governmental entities, such as deals with the private sector (public-private deals), worker unions, or civil society organizations, they are given the opportunity for their representatives to express their position freely at AMLO’s press conference.
Important national issues are also discussed widely during the press conferences and the president has even assigned a specific day to discuss a certain issue, for example, before COVID-19, on Tuesday the first half of the press conference was dedicated to inform of the advances on the public healthcare system’s restructuring in order to strengthen it– and any other health policies.
Since the pandemic hit Mexico now, there’s a daily evening press conference exclusively on COVID-19 held by the undersecretary of health, Dr. Hugo López-Gatell. In addition, the President’s daily press conference also informs about the pandemic situation and strategies, as well as the government’s diplomatic involvement and collaboration and processes to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine.
Security is another issue that most concerns the Mexican society, and even though President López Obrador holds daily meetings with his security cabinet at six in the morning, Then once a month, members of his security cabinet provide a detailed report of the results of the government’s’ security plan.
Another aspect of the press conference is when reporters report or complaint about irregularities within some areas of the government or possible acts of corruption, or any act of injustice. The president doesn’t just take note, but he immediately takes immediate action by directing a thorough investigation of those complaints and comments to report back with an answer or resolution.
There have been many cases like that where complaints get resolved, some even within 24 hours. Recently, there was a case of a mother and journalist who attended the press conference and exposed his son’s case. His son was incarcerated in-justly in 2008 and given a ten-year sentence, which ended three years ago, but he was not yet released by the judge.
Despite the president has no saying in the Justice System because it’s an independent power, AMLO decided to intercede by sending a letter to the Minister (President) of the Supreme Court, Arturo Zaldívar, to let him know about this situation where the law was followed but not justice was applied. The Minister-President Zaldívar responded to President López Obrador that he would intervene considering that is an urgent matter of human right violations; by the next morning, the young man was released from prison, and the mother comes the next day to thank the president at his press conference, to which the presidents couldn’t contain his emotions and he got a teary eye, something just a few noticed because he was discreet about it.
It’s not surprising, and despite the overwhelming acceptance and popularity among Mexicans towards the president’s press conference, commonly known as “La Mañanera” [term referring that the press conference takes place very early in the morning], and AMLO’s 71% approval rating, 80% of the conservative media and opposition voices are against the daily press conference because they say is a propaganda stunt. This argument is a juxtaposition from the opposition journalists and conservative opinion leaders, in that they themselves have attended the press conferences and rudely have questioned the president’s policies with complete freedom of their expression.
Such is the case of Mexican-American journalist Jorge Ramos and conservative political commentator Denise Dresser. The president with remarkable patience listens attentively to the journalists questioning, and he responds very calmly and with his characteristic pauses. AMLO responds very diplomatic at times assertive, but always calmy when erroneous or misleading statements are presented. if it’s necessary, he would project data and statistics on a large screen.
The two main opposition parties, the Revolution Institutional Party (PRI ) and National Action Party ( PAN) that govern the country for almost a century, also don’t see the press conference with good eyes because AMLO uses his freedom of expression as well to reply to his opponents. Every time reporters ask the president his opinion regarding his opponent’s criticism towards his government, he doesn’t lose the opportunity to remind everyone how things were in the country when the PRI and PAN were in power, with a high rate of corruption, violence and human rights violations. Definitely, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is revolutionizing political communication, especially through social media where his preso can be watched by millions of people in Mexico and around the world.