Human Rights Watch Slams Mexican President AMLO for Handling of Coronavirus in Mexico—AMLO Is Still Holding Rallies!
03/29/2020
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Human Rights Watch is an NGO critical of the Trump administration's immigration policy, and of border control in general (just look at the article titles in the group's website Migrants section).

Regarding Mexico and COVID-19, however, a March 26th article strongly criticizes the president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), for his handling of the coronavirus in Mexico:

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is putting the people of Mexico in grave danger with his reckless disregard for providing accurate information on the COVID-19 pandemic, Human Rights Watch said today [March 26].

Mexico: Mexicans Need Accurate COVID-19 Information, Human Rights Watch, March 26, 2020

Some excerpts:

...Despite the rapidly expanding spread of the virus in the country, President López Obrador refuses to follow public health advice and is failing to provide accurate information to the public about the severity of the problem. He has directly contradicted the recommendations of health authorities, encouraging Mexicans to continue going out in public while health officials ask Mexicans to stay at home. He has also continued to hold rallies and attend events across the country, hugging, kissing, and shaking hands with supporters despite recommendations to avoid crowds and close contact.

It's not that the Mexican government isn't doing anything, it is. It's that its Presidente doesn't appear to take the virus seriously.

“President López Obrador’s behavior in the face of the COVID-19 crisis is a profoundly dangerous example that threatens Mexicans’ health,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “He has shown outrageous unwillingness to provide accurate and evidence-based information about the risks of a virus that has already killed thousands of people worldwide. He needs to take this issue seriously for the sake of the health and lives of the Mexican people.”

...As recently as Monday [March 23], when many state and local governments had begun implementing measures closing public gathering places like bars, restaurants, and cinemas, and urging residents to remain at home when possible, President López Obrador tweeted a video encouraging Mexicans to go out to restaurants, saying “If you have the means to do it, continue taking your family out to restaurants and diners. That’s what will strengthen the economy.”

And AMLO gets defensive if questioned on the matter.

...When questioned about his actions or about the concerns of doctors or other health workers, President López Obrador has lashed out defensively, saying that journalists are “taking advantage of the coronavirus” to “distort, alarm, and question the government” in support of the opposition and that “the conservatives would like us to get infected ... so that they could blame us for everything.”

This is typical. When criticized, AMLO blames "conservatives" and "neoliberalism" and previous administrations for problems in Mexico. That might work for a while but the guy has been in office now for a year and nearly four months. As time goes by, that argument is wearing out, especially when dealing with a new crisis.

Mexican nongovernmental organizations and activists have obtained three court rulings in the past week, finding that the government has failed to take basic action to detect or respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and ordering it to do so. Only after these court rulings, and an announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday, March 23, did the López Obrador administration admit on Tuesday, March 24, that the virus had begun spreading domestically in Mexico.

The WHO identifies individuals at highest risk to include those over 60 years of age and those with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer. Individuals who are immune compromised and are obese are also thought to be at high risk. Mexico has some of the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the world. The Pan American Health Organization has predicted that there will be as many as 700,000 serious, potentially fatal, cases of Covid-19 in Mexico in which patients will require respiratory support. The majority of Mexicans rely on the country’s public healthcare system, which has fewer than 2,500 intensive care beds and just over 5,500 ventilators, according to the latest figures provided by the government. Migrants in detention and along the country’s northern and southern borders also face serious risks of infection, as do individuals in jails and prisons in Mexico.

Notice it mentions detained migrants in Mexico, i.e., Central Americans, etc. Human Rights Watch would prefer they not be detained.

“At a time of an unprecedented health pandemic such as COVID-19, leaders should faithfully meet their obligation to ensure people have access to accurate, evidence-based information essential to protecting their health” said Vivanco. “Failure to do so is not just a violation of the right to health, but will also lead to many preventable deaths”.

Something the article doesn't mention, given the organization's own bias, but which I have pointed out previously, is that AMLO won't tighten up the border for people arriving from the United States.

And this is despite the fact that the U.S. has more coronavirus cases than Mexico and the rest of Latin America put together! AMLO just hates the idea of closing the border with the United States.

As of  March 29, the U.S. had over 140,000 COVID-19 cases while Mexico was approaching 1000 (although some think the Mexico total may be an undercount).

But even though the U.S. has many more than Mexico, there is no point in bringing more infected people into the United States. The value of borders is that each country can manage the situation better with strong borders.

 

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