Will AMLO’s Popularity in Mexico Survive COVID-19?

Will AMLO’s Popularity in Mexico Survive COVID-19?
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador speaks at the National Palace in Mexico City, April 5, 2020 (AP photo by ).

MEXICO CITY—In mid-March, as governments around the world were imposing lockdowns and other restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was upbeat. He waved off “this idea that you can’t hug” as a result of the virus. “You have to hug each other,” he insisted. “Nothing will happen.” At a press conference on March 18, he pulled out his wallet to show off the religious images, four-leaf clover and $2 bill he carries for good luck—and as protection, he claimed, from COVID-19. A few days later, he encouraged people to keep going out to restaurants with their families.

But by the end of the month, he had reversed his stance. AMLO, as the president is widely known in Mexico, released a video on March 28 encouraging people to stay home, flatten the curve and avoid unnecessary trips to hospitals. He curtailed his rigorous travel schedule, ending the weekend trips he took on commercial flights to visit villages where he shook supporters’ hands and hugged children. On March 30, the government declared a national health emergency.

Still, by that time, several other Latin American countries had begun curfews, suspended air travel or imposed lockdowns. AMLO’s administration did none of those things, causing critics to describe his response to the pandemic as delayed and lax. Mexico’s testing of its population for the coronavirus has been limited; at 0.9 tests per 1,000 people as of May 12, it has the lowest test rate of any OECD country. Chile, the only other Latin American OECD member, has done 15 tests per 1,000 people, while the United States has done 28. Mexico’s Health Ministry has suggested that the true case count is exponentially higher than the official tally, which currently stands at more than 38,000 confirmed cases.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review