On 30 May protests took place in dozens of cities across Mexico against the federal government led by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, calling for his resignation.
Called by civil society organisations such as the Frente Nacional Ciudadano (Frena) and Congreso Nacional Ciudadano (CNC), the protests questioned the government’s handling of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, among other criticisms. The demonstrations come as major doubts persist regarding the government’s policy of easing lockdown measures (with economic activity to resume today, 1 June, on a national level, in line with a four-tiered traffic light structure) given reports of the continued rise in new infections. Yesterday, deputy health minister Hugo López-Gattell announced that 3,152 new cases were registered in the previous 24 hours, to bring Mexico’s total to 90,664, with 9,930 deaths.
- In the capital, protests culminated outside the presidential palace, with around 250 vehicles and some 300 demonstrators, according to police sources cited by the local media. Yesterday Frena tweeted that protests took place in 72 cities across 30 states.
- President López Obrador dismissed the protests, insisting that those calling for his resignation should wait to register their discontent in the recall referendum on his mandate, which is scheduled for 2022.
- Critics of President López Obrador also point to his continued optimism with regard to the economy as a sign that he is out of touch with reality: on 30 May he posted messages on social media insisting there were “signs of economic recovery”, citing the strengthening of the peso against the dollar and an increase in oil prices. He pointed to infrastructure projects such as his flagship ‘Tren Maya’ railway project, on which construction is due to begin today, as a further sign of optimism. However, this is in stark contrast to the recent gloomy economic predictions made by Mexico’s central bank (Banxico), forecasting that the country’s GDP will contract between 4.6% and 8.8% in 2020.
López Obrador’s proposed seven-day national tour to promote ‘Tren Maya’ and other projects has drawn criticism from the members of the opposition Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) who have slammed it as “irresponsible” given the ongoing pandemic.
In brief: Mexico’s public finances feel some pandemic impact
* Mexico’s finance ministry has released results for public sector finances between January and April this year, which show that expected revenue was lower than expected, with the government collecting overall M$1.87tn (US$84.9bn). This is M$19.7bn less than initially projected, although it is a 1.5% increase on total revenue in the same period in 2019. The government attributes the lower than expected revenue to the decrease in global oil prices, while noting that the isolation measures taken to limit the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) began to impact tax revenue in April 2020, but that over the first four months of the year tax revenue increased by 5.6% in real terms on January-April 2019 as a result of “actions taken to reduce tax evasion”. Total budget costs increased by an annual 7% in January-April this year, while central government spending was M$17.4bn higher than projected, a 13.1% increase on 2019 due to budget increases for the social welfare ministry, education ministry and the health ministry, in order respond to the public health emergency.