On 18 June Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced his intention to disband the Consejo Nacional para Prevenir la Discriminación (Conapred), an independent government agency set up to promote policies to improve social inclusion and equality for all.
The timing of López Obrador’s announcement was eye-catching. Just as many countries around the world have seen widespread protests against racism and discrimination, he is intent on dissolving an independent institution whose remit is to combat these twin scourges.
- López Obrador did not maintain that Conapred was unnecessary because there was no longer racism and discrimination in Mexico. Instead, he argued that the institution was a waste of budgetary resources and that its work could be taken on by the interior ministry (Segob). “Of course racism and discrimination must be combated but not by creating an organisation for every demand for justice”, López Obrador said during his morning press conference.
- Conapred was established in 2003 under the right-wing Partido Acción Nacional (PAN) administration of Vicente Fox (2000-2006). López Obrador claimed that it was not set up with any real intention of combating racism, machismo, homophobia and inequality, its stated mission, but merely to create jobs for “cronies”, while the victims of discrimination did not receive any benefits at all. “People do not even know that it exists”, López Obrador said.
- Conapred’s consultative assembly, comprised of human rights activists and academics, issued a statement expressing its surprise at López Obrador’s decision. It argued that by disbanding Conapred López Obrador would “undermine the just fights and demands that have been raised by distinct social organisations”. It even pointed out that abolishing Conapred would be inconsistent with López Obrador’s oft-repeated motto ‘primero los pobres’, contending that many of Mexico’s poor are in a state of poverty precisely because they are “victims of discriminatory practices”.
After López Obrador announced his determination to abolish Conapred, the institution’s president, Mónica Maccise Duayhe, announced that she would be resigning her position as of today (19 June). Conapred’s consultative assembly came out in support of Maccise’s work.
In brief: Mexico’s agricultural trade balance sees healthy surplus
* Mexico’s agriculture & rural development ministry (Sader) has released figures indicating that despite the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, Mexico’s agri-food sector trade surplus registered an 11.68% increase in the first four months of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. In a report, the ministry wrote that total agri-food exports, which include livestock and agro-industrial products, exceeded US$14.09bn over that period, making for a trade surplus of US$4.84bn, “which reflects that the sector’s dynamic was not affected over that four-month stretch” .The result was driven by a 4.77% year-on-year rise in agro-industrial exports to a total of US$6.77bn and by the sale of vegetables, fruits, and drinks which together represented 60% of total exports. Amongst these products, highlights include avocados, which registered a 24.77% sales increase to a total US$1.29bn, and tequila and mezcal, which saw a 35.21% rise to a total value of US$738m.