SECOND ANNUAL GOVERNMENT REPORT DELIVERED BY MEXICAN PRESIDENT ANDRÉS MANUEL LÓPEZ OBRADOR, 2020
I was one of the first to argue that Mexico’s main problem was corruption, and now I have no doubt. The plague of corruption is at the root of Mexico’s crisis. That is why I have set out to eradicate it completely and I am convinced that, in these times more than in others, transforming means promoting morality.
This administration will not be remembered for being corrupt. Our main legacy will be to purify Mexico’s public life. And we are moving forward. We have not engaged in partisan persecution or political revenge, but we are also not covering up for anyone or allowing impunity. The robbery committed by those at the top is over, but official banditry has yet to be completely eradicated.
Republican austerity is a reality. These are facts, not words. There are no more luxuries in the government and everything that is being saved is earmarked for the population’s well-being. According to official figures, by not permitting corruption and by having an austere government, we have been able to save around 560 billion pesos (TN 1) during our administration.
This is not to brag, but at the worst time we have the best government. We are facing two crises at the same time, the health crisis and the economic crisis, and we are moving forward.
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The pandemic is not a political but a public health issue. That is why I have entrusted the decisions in this area to a team of professionals with great experience and capacity. The coronavirus has left us pain, sadness, and hardship, but it has also strengthened the love in families, demonstrated the humanism and dedication of health-care workers and brought to the fore the legendary brotherhood of our people.
There is no doubt that we will come out of the pandemic with a better health-care system. The government began its term in office receiving 401 abandoned, looted, or half-constructed hospitals, and with a deficit of more than 200,000 medical professionals. With the support received by the state governments from the ministries of the Navy and National Defense, in a few months we have reconverted 969 hospitals to care for patients with Covid-19 and have installed 32,203 beds, 10,612 with ventilators. In addition, 47,000 general physicians, specialists, nurses and other health-care workers have been hired.
We proposed an initiative to the UN, which was approved almost unanimously, for medicines and vaccines to be provided on a non-profit basis. Mexico participates in the main international efforts to develop a vaccine against Covid-19. Specifically, I would like to emphasize the commitment we made with the University of Oxford, with the Astra-Zeneca laboratory, with the Carlos Slim Foundation, and with the government of Argentina. We hope that this agreement produces results as of November and that we can start applying the vaccine at the beginning of next year at the latest, to the entire population and free-of-charge.
The global health emergency experienced this year has posed very serious problems for all countries and will force us all to rethink and change many things. In addition to the tremendous pain that the pandemic has caused, it has been proven that its effects are more serious if we suffer from hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. That is why we must be careful with what we eat and not consume junk food with excess sugars, salts, and chemicals. To maintain our health, we must exercise and practice sports to strengthen our immune system and lose weight.
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We are facing the economic crisis caused by the pandemic with a different formula. Now, all government financial support and credit are provided directly to reactivate the economy from the bottom up. Priority is no longer given to large companies and banks. Now, for the good of all, the people are rescued first.
It is a source of pride to be able to say that seven out of ten families are receiving benefits from at least one social program or something from the public budget, which is everyone’s money. Moreover, to sooth our conscience and for everyone’s happiness, 100 percent of the indigenous communities and the poorest people in the countryside and the cities benefit from at least one of the social programs. Here I would like to recall what Adam Smith maintained, which could well represent one of the foundations of the moral economy we are applying. He said » “How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it.” In other words, the happiness of others is our own happiness.
Nevertheless, we have been admonished for not undertaking an elitist economic rescue plan to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. But it is a source of pride to be able to say that we helped 23 million families through social programs. Imagine how many senior citizens have been able to adhere to the health lockdown because they have the right to receive a stipend, even if it is modest.
Article 4 of the Constitution has already been amended to make support for the elderly and for children with disabilities, as well as the granting of scholarships to students from poor families and free medical care and medicines, a priority and obligatory social right. From now on, the government must comply with this mandate, regardless of the party in office.
This year, because of the pandemic, the elderly, as well as children with disabilities, received their stipends in advance. Only November and December remain to be paid; in eight months, 115 billion pesos (TN 2) have been allocated to these programs, benefitting 9 million people. This is not an expense but an investment; it is not a gift, it is justice.
Previously, young people were turned away and discriminated against; now they are guaranteed the right to education and employment. They are no longer «ninis» (TN 3) as they were derogatorily called. They are now scholarship students or apprentices hired at minimum wage so they can train and get ahead. We will not let young people get hooked by crime. They are not alone; with them, we are building the future.
Three million farmers and fishermen are receiving support. They are directly provided with resources; they are helped with wages to cultivate their land, they are given fertilizers free-of-charge and guarantee prices to buy corn, beans, rice, wheat, and milk from producers in the field. This is a minimal act of justice. As the poet Carlos Pellicer said «Let those who feed us eat».
Now, as I said, all support is furnished directly without intermediaries. To this end, the Social Welfare Bank has been strengthened, so that people in the most remote communities can receive what they are entitled to, without having to travel long distances. By 2021, there will be 2,700 branches throughout the country. Currently, with the support of military engineers, 226 branches have been built.
By the same token, the Internet for All project continues to advance. Connectivity is already being provided in 26,789 locations and, in 2021, Internet will be available throughout the country.
The misnamed education reform was cancelled and now teachers, parents, students, and authorities are working together. Eleven million scholarships are being given to students from poor families at all educational levels. Furthermore, the government is helping to maintain the schools and it has been made clear that education is not a privilege but a right of the entire population.
Thank you, thank you, thank you very much, our countrymen who are migrants. Now that they have been most needed is when they have helped their families in Mexico the most. Despite the pandemic in the United States, remittances have increased by 10 percent over last year and I estimate that they will reach US$40 billion by the end of the year, a record high, benefitting 10 million families.
With the increase in remittances sent by our countrymen from the United States to their families, with the social welfare programs and the credits we are providing to those at the bottom, the pandemic has not led to famine or food shortages or robberies and the people of Mexico have resources to meet their basic consumption.
I predicted that the economic crisis caused by the pandemic would be transitory. I said that it would be like a «V», that we would fall but that we would come out of it soon; fortunately, this is happening. The worst is over and now we are moving up; jobs lost are already being recovered, we are gradually returning to productive normality and we are already beginning to post growth.
In August, 93,000 new jobs were created; the peso appreciated, trading at less than 22 pesos per dollar, after having been at more than 25. The Mexican oil mix, from zero, went to 40 dollars per barrel. The consumption of basic products, instead of decreasing with the pandemic, increased by 9.5 percent in real terms, compared to last year. Tax collection remained virtually the same as in 2019. This also occurred with foreign direct investment, which during the first half of the year reached 17.97 billion dollars, the same as in 2019. The decline of the economy, despite the world disaster, was 10.4 percent in the first half of the year, but even with the debacle, the fall was less pronounced than in Italy, Spain, France, and the United Kingdom. I should add that almost all countries resorted to credits and increased their debts by very high percentages. In contrast, we have faced the pandemic and we are going to emerge from the economic crisis without contracting
additional foreign debt and without allocating public money to immoral «rescue» plans, that is, for those who do not need to be rescued.
But it should not be forgotten that, by focusing government solidarity on the poorest strata of society, we also indirectly benefit those sectors that have some or considerable savings capacity. Social programs have allowed millions of beneficiaries to preserve some of their purchasing power and consumption capacity. And that is why the market has not been closed to thousands of companies.
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The relationship with businessmen and women has been good and respectful. Despite the crisis, most of them did not lay off their employees. They complied with their tax payments; they agreed to increase the minimum wage by 20 percent and voluntarily decided to contribute more to provide better pensions to their workers. In addition, private hospitals have helped us face the pandemic and privately owned television stations are supporting us by broadcasting classes via radio and television to 30 million students. I have nothing further to add: thank you on behalf of the government and our people.
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Mexico is unquestionably a country with a future and a world-class example of how to achieve progress with justice a reality. A nation’s main wealth does not lie in its infrastructure or its finances and not even in its natural resources, but in its population and its cultures, in the people who shape it and give it history and existence.
Investing in the people, in their food, their health, their education, and their general well-being, is the best thing that can be done to guarantee the country’s strength and its present and future development.
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Since July, the new trade agreement with Canada and the United States entered into effect. In these moments of crisis, the agreement we signed translates into boosting productive activities, obtaining more foreign investment, creating more jobs, and improving our people’s welfare. This is the context in which my visit to Washington should be seen, where I met with President Donald Trump, who treated us with respect and praised our countrymen who live and work honestly in the United States.
We maintain good relations with all the peoples and governments of the world. In foreign policy, we adhere to the constitutional principles of non-intervention, self-determination for nations, peaceful resolution of disputes, and cooperation for development. As we know, Mexico was the country that obtained the most votes to become part of the UN Security Council.
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With the support of the workers and technicians of Pemex (TN 4) and the Federal Electricity Commission, we are rescuing these public companies, making them more efficient, cleansing them of corruption, and complying with the commitment not to increase the price of fuels and electricity.
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Out of conviction, we have decided to protect the environment as never done before by the previous governments nor the pseudo-ecologists who attack us so much demand. I would just like to emphasize that we are implementing the most important reforestation program in the world, planting more than a billion fruit and timber trees.
The use of transgenic corn and fracking is not allowed. Water is being protected, and we have not granted a single mining concession. It should not be forgotten that during the neoliberal period, in 30 years, from 1988 to November 2018, the five past presidential administrations granted concessions involving 118 million hectares for mining exploitation, the equivalent of 60 percent of the country’s land surface. This devastating policy of handing over the country’s resources is now over.
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By eradicating corruption, the National Council for Science and Technology (Conacyt) was able to focus its efforts on strengthening the well-being of the people of Mexico through scientific development. Thus, it has allocated scholarships with criteria based on transparency and equity to 84,599 students and 34,447 academics per year, with a total annual investment of more than 19.13 billion pesos (TN 5), 14 percent more than in 2018. As of the end of this year we will ensure that doctors who want to specialize will not be rejected as had been occurring and can receive training both in the country and abroad. During the current presidential administration, we are contemplating guaranteeing space in educational institutions and providing 70,000 scholarships to these medical professionals, which will help reduce the deficit of specialists that prevents us from fully guaranteeing the population’s right to health-care. Similarly, the foundations of technological independence have been laid, achieving, in a short period of time, among other contributions, the development and production of the first 100 percent Mexican ventilators to save lives at risk due to Covid-19.
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Some 683,000 e-books have been downloaded free-of-charge from the Fondo de Cultura Económica (TN 6). We have reactivated 45 bookstores of the Fondo de Cultura Económica-Educal network with counter sales and absolute adherence to health-care measures. Reading rooms and clubs have grown in communities and rural teacher training colleges. We continue to produce translations and new books. The «Vientos del Pueblo» collection will reach 43 titles this week, with books ranging in price from 8 to 20 pesos (TN 7), in print runs of 40,000 copies.
As we had agreed and with a view to next year’s commemoration of the 700th anniversary of the founding of Tenochtitlan (TN 8), the 500th anniversary of the Spanish colonial invasion, and the 200th anniversary of the culmination of the country’s independence, the titles of the «21 for 21» collection have begun to go to press to be delivered en masse as of next year, in editions of 100,000 copies, produced by the Fondo de Cultura Económica and financed by the Institute for the Return of Stolen Assets to the People (TN 9), which include works by Guillermo Prieto, Elena Poniatowska, Octavio Paz, Ermilo Abreu Gómez, Mariano Azuela, Vicente Riva Palacio, Martín Luis Guzmán, José C. Valadés, Luis Villoro, Emilio Carballido, Nellie Campobello, Carlos Monsiváis, and Heriberto Frías.
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I would like to emphasize that, for the first time, an indigenous woman will be the head of the National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination and that the program of preferential support for indigenous peoples will continue. To that end, we signed an agreement for justice with the authorities of the Yaqui indigenous communities. In addition, we continue to promote art and all cultural expressions. We continue to restore temples and historical monuments, and are in the process of building the Ecological Park of Lake Texcoco and the Los Pinos artistic and cultural venue (TN 10) in Chapultepec Forest.
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We are moving forward with the construction of the General Felipe Angeles airport, the new refinery in Dos Bocas and the Mayan Train. We are making the development of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec a reality to link the countries of Asia with the east coast of the United States. In addition, these work projects will generate 150,000 jobs during this year.
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We are advancing in the fight against crime. We have established a new strategy that begins by providing jobs, education, and well-being to people who are at risk of being recruited by organized crime, especially young people. The fight against poverty, unemployment, and marginalization is accompanied by the deployment of the National Guard, a peace corps close to the population, with a presence in all regions of the country, which already has 97,000 well-equipped and trained members. To house those responsible for the population’s security, 79 barracks have been built, 34 are in the process of being constructed, and 135 more are about to be started, bringing the total to 248 barracks by the end of 2021.
Decreases have been reported in almost all crimes compared to November 2018. There have been fewer kidnappings, femicides, street muggings, truck hijackings, car thefts, robberies on public transport, robberies of businesses and home burglaries, all of which have seen a decrease of around 30 percent on average. Only two categories of crime have increased, intentional homicide and extortion by 7.9 and 12.7 percent, respectively, mainly linked to so-called organized crime.
The professional and responsible support of the Armed Forces has been key in this task. Specifically, I would like to acknowledge the support, loyalty, and uprightness of Admiral Rafael Ojeda Durán and General Luis Cresencio Sandoval González, ministers of the Navy and National Defense, exemplary public servants.
Now there is justice for the poor and in matters of public security organized crime no longer rules, as used to be the case. There is no longer any torture, forced disappearances, or massacres; human rights are respected and the guilty are punished, no matter who they are. There are no longer officials like García Luna (TN 11) in the federal government.
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I have maintained and will continue to maintain an institutional relationship with authorities belonging to other political parties. Governors and mayors of any political persuasion find in the executive branch respect and equal treatment.
We have fulfilled our promise to promote the true independence of the institutions of the judicial system. The Attorney General’s Office and the federal judiciary act with autonomy and the days in which whatever the President ordered was carried out because the executive branch was the top branch among the different branches of government are over.
In the cases in which former presidents are being implicated, I have proposed that the corresponding authorities should attend to the matter with absolute freedom, and that if necessary a public consultation should be held to gauge the population’s opinion. I have said, and I reiterate, that I would vote not to submit them to a trial since I maintain the position I held in my inauguration, according to which, «in the field of justice, past errors can be punished, but what is key is to avoid the crimes of the future. Nevertheless, if the consultation is held, I will respect the popular decision, whatever it may be, because in a democracy the people decide and out of conviction I have proposed governing by obeying the popular will.
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Like many Mexicans I was a victim of electoral fraud and I am convinced of the tremendous damage caused by imposed authorities. That is why the Constitution was amended and whoever uses the public budget for the benefit of political parties and candidates or taints the free and democratic character of the elections will be punished with jail time and without the right to bail.
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Since Francisco I. Madero (TN 12), never has a president been so attacked as now. The conservatives are angry because there is no longer corruption and they have lost their privileges. However, they enjoy absolute freedom of expression and this is proof that today liberties and the right to dissent are guaranteed. Political repression is a thing of the past.
We are carrying out the Fourth Transformation (TN 13) of Mexico’s public life and it is important to recall that the first three transformations, Independence, Reform, and the Revolution had to proceed by taking up arms. Now we are achieving it peacefully. There is opposition to the government, but the majority of Mexico’s inhabitants approve of our administration. Thanks to all of you for your trust. We will not fail you.
Today this afternoon, as stipulated by law, Olga Sánchez Cordero, Minister of the Interior, will deliver the second annual report of the government that I represent to Congress.
Much has been accomplished and on key issues there is little left to define. Of the 100 commitments I made in the Zócalo central square on December 1, 2018, we have fulfilled 95; only five are still pending.
Since the first day of my government, the Project of the Nation that we proposed to society and obtained overwhelming support at the polls on July 1, 2018 has been implemented. Although unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances such as the Covid-19 pandemic force us to make adjustments, on the major questions we will not abandon the spirit of the commitment we made. The governmental actions taken are an expression of what we have dreamed of, designed, and offered for many years, of a vision of the country and the world.
Today, some critics are calling for a different kind of government, for us to dispense with our ideas and our project, for us to apply
economic recipes that we have fought against or for us to be tolerant of the corruption that we set out to eradicate. In short, they are asking me to betray my commitment to society, to go back on my word, and renounce my congruency. And that will not happen.
The new economic policy underpinned by morality, austerity, and development based on social justice is already underway.
The commitment to finish laying the foundations of the Mexico of the future by December 1, when the government marks its second year in office, remains in place.
From then on, once the foundations are built, the only task that will remain is to finish the work of transformation and continue to govern with honesty and integrity and love for the people so as to always count on their support.
I am convinced that the best way to avoid future setbacks largely depends on continuing the revolution in consciousness to achieve a full change of mentality that, when necessary, becomes the collective will, ready to defend what has been achieved in the public interest and in the interests of the nation.
Let’s continue to make a homeland, for ourselves and for the new generations, who will know how to honor the dignity of our people and the greatness of Mexico.
Long live Mexico!
Long live Mexico!
Long live Mexico!
National Palace, September 1, 2020
Translated by Pedro Gellert
TN 1 – US$ 28.8 billion
TN 2 – US$ 5.3 billion
TN 3 – Those who don’t work or study
TN 4 – Pemex, Petroleos Mexicanos, the state-run oil company
TN 5 – US$ 880 million
TN 6 – Fondo de Cultura Económica, an autonomous partially state-funded non-profit publishing house
TN 7 – US$ 0.36 to US$ 0.92
TN 8 – Tenochtitlan, la ancient Aztec capital in what is now Mexico City
TN 9 – Institute to return the ill-gotten wealth seized from corrupt politicians and organized crime to the people through social and cultural programs and expenditures
TN 10 – Former lavish presidential residence, converted into a major public space for cultural activities in the current presidential administration
TN 11 – Genaro García Luna, head of public security during the Felipe Calderón administration. Accused of links with organized crime and corruption.
TN 12 – Francisco Madero was a Mexican revolutiionary who served as the 33rd president of the country from 1911 until shortly before his assassination in 1913.
TN 13 – The Fourth Transformation refers to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador commitment to do away with privileged abuses that have plagued Mexico in recent decades. López Obrador defined the first three transformations as the country’s War of Independence (1810-1821), the civil war between conservatives and liberals known as the Reforma (1858-1861) and the Mexican Revolution (1910-1917).