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Mexican president holds 1,000th daily news conference

#Mexican #president #holds #1000th #daily #news #conference

Mexican president holds 1,000th daily news conference

Mexico City (AFP) –

Sofia Miselem and Jose Osorio

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday delivered his 1,000th daily news conference — a marathon appearance before the cameras every weekday that, like the populist leader, sharply divides opinion.

Since taking office in December 2018, Mexico’s first leftist president has fielded questions from reporters for up to three hours each morning, Monday through Friday.

Arturo Hurtado, a 50-year-old food vendor in Mexico City, religiously follows the program on a small television from 7:00 am.

“It’s a titanic and tiring job for me but only then can you be closer to the people,” he said, welcoming the chance to hear the “news of the day” from Lopez Obrador.

It is not only news that the 69-year-old delivers from the National Palace — his often rambling answers wander into historical digressions along with frequent attacks on opponents and journalists.

Lopez Obrador even introduced a “lies of the week” segment in which his government seeks to debunk what it considers to be fake news.

The news conferences “have no parallel in modern history,” writer and journalist Pedro Miguel told AFP.

Lopez Obrador, who has an approval rating of around 60 percent, conceived the event as a “communication channel” in the absence of a government media outlet, he said.

– Transparency or propaganda? –

Luis Estrada, a political expert from the consulting firm Spin who closely monitors the press conferences, believes they are more about “propaganda” than information or accountability.

Lopez Obrador has made more than 86,000 statements at the news conferences that are “false, misleading or cannot be verified,” Estrada said.

But the writer Miguel, a government supporter, sees the briefings as “a counterweight to a mass media” sympathetic to the opposition and “that participates in political harassment” of the president.

In addition to setting the news agenda, the event has reshaped the routine of journalists like Sara Pablo, a veteran reporter for Radio Formula, who had to give up taking her son to school to attend the briefings.

“The complicated thing is leaving my family… and I no longer have the energy for a social life because I get sleepy very early,” she said, while welcoming the access to the president.

Few ministers organize their own press appearances.

Instead most deliver reports at Lopez Obrador’s news conferences, which have also been attended by business people and foreign dignitaries including Argentinian and Bolivian presidents.

Lopez Obrador has raised eyebrows for his stamina, with a security meeting prior to each news conference, despite having heart problems and hypertension.

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