López Obrador, in a recorded message after getting sick with covid-19, on January 11, 2022. Galo Cañas (CUARTOSCURO)
The health of Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been in the spotlight for the last two weeks. The 68-year-old president of Mexico has asked for peace of mind after overcoming a second contagion of covid-19 and undergoing a catheterization, a cardiac procedure, after undergoing a routine exam last Friday. Questions about the president’s physical condition deepened over the weekend, when he pointed out that he had a “political will” in case he died or became seriously ill in office. “The doctors guaranteed me that I can move on and I feel in good health, with a lot of encouragement and enthusiasm,” said the politician this Monday in his morning conference and added that the decision to have a will is to guarantee the governability of the country. and the continuity of its government project.
“I have had a will for some time now and as president, I added a text that has, as I said in the video, the purpose that in the event of my death, continuity in the transformation process is guaranteed, that the things happen smoothly and without affecting the development of the country”, commented López Obrador. The president has acknowledged that his statement, recorded less than 24 hours after being admitted to a military hospital in Mexico City, had generated “concern”, but has defended that “it would be irresponsible” not to foresee that scenario.
The president has not disclosed the document or its content, which also opened the field to speculation. “I can’t give more details,” he said. “This testament will be known when I cease to exist,” he added. Some analysts questioned the notion of a “political testament” because the Constitution already establishes the steps to follow regarding the presidential succession in cases of temporary or prolonged absence or the death of the head of the Executive.
Article 84 states that in case of absolute absence of the president, Congress must appoint a substitute in less than 70 days and that meanwhile, the person who occupies the Ministry of the Interior would assume the presidency provisionally. If the death occurs in the first two years of the six-year term, new elections are eventually called and if it happens in the last four, the substitute appointed by the Legislature will complete the mandate. Criticism focuses on a “patrimonial”, “authoritarian” or “personalist” vision of power and for turning its back on already established institutional processes. Other people alluded to a metaphorical use of the “testament” or to instructions for a movement like Morena, which has escaped the traditional molds of political parties in Mexico, both because of its organization and because of the flags it defends and the political cadres it has hosted. .
The video he shared last Saturday was one of the times that López Obrador has spoken more openly about his state of health. The president recalled that in 2013 he had to undergo an operation after suffering a heart attack. “Since then, I have periodically been checking myself. I take medication every day to control my pressure”, he acknowledged, although he later pointed out that “there is a president for a while”.
López Obrador has been the oldest president to hold office in more than 100 years and the political environment in Mexico is not used to the health of the Executive being an issue on the political agenda. The matter took on a lot of force, for example, in exceptional circumstances, such as his first covid infection in January of last year. So, in a world with little access to coronavirus vaccines, there was talk of whether it was necessary to prioritize its inoculation, the treatments and medications that followed, and the temporary absence of the president. In three years of Government, the former Secretary of the Interior, Olga Sánchez Cordero, and his successor, Adán Augusto López, have had to replace him for a few days.
During his second contagion of covid, from which he recovered in a week, López Obrador was singled out for his insistence on not wearing a face mask and not being absent since he had symptoms, questioned for the political message he sent amid the expansion of omicron in the country. Criticism subsided when the infection was confirmed, under a consensus that speculating on the president’s health harmed the country and crossed the lines of political rivalries. The fact is that the issue of the Executive’s health had been an unprecedented issue until this presidency.
Given this, López Obrador’s response is to call for calm and trust in the medical reports that his communication apparatus has shared in recent days. “Fortunately, things went well,” said the president, who is already considering resuming his long task of activities and public appearances in Mexican territory. While the country discusses the relevance and unravels the existence of a “political testament”, the president is already planning his next tour to supervise the construction of the Mayan Train, the flagship program of his Administration for the Southeast of the country, next weekend.
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