COVID-19: Mexico Gets Ready for ‘the Return’

The plan to return to the “new normal” will be “gradual, orderly and cautious” … despite the United States.

It is not only reasonable but wise for nations to concern themselves with economic recovery and a return to normalcy, once we have defeated COVID-19.

What might not be so logical or so wise would be to ensure economic health by risking the health of people. And even less so if the motivation is petty interests.

Not withstanding, early relapses in various locations — after the worst was thought to be over — could be a warning not to be too hasty. It has not yet been demonstrated that any country has inflicted absolute and total defeat of the virus.

Each decision is unique and will conform to the actual situation in each country. What does feel reprehensible is for certain powers to put pressure on the citizens of another nation to be exposed.

Such is the threat planned for Mexico, which is once again pressured by the neighboring administration that continues to think more about political interests than people. The close commercial ties with the North guarantee that Mexico will continue, but they also make it vulnerable to injustice. For example, last year Donald Trump threatened his neighboring president with tariff increases on Mexican products marketed in the U.S. if it did not take charge of the migrants from Central America.

Now, the leader of Morena, the party in power, Alfonso Ramírez Cuéllar, has accused the White House executive and, personally, his ambassador, Christopher Landau, of wanting to force Mexico to resume productive activities.

“The pressure exerted by a group of senators and by the U.S. ambassador to Mexico is unacceptable,” said Ramírez Cuéllar. According to this account, he did not fail to acknowledge the importance of reopening factories to lessen the negative economic and social consequences caused by the pandemic, but at the same time, he maintained that the health of Mexican workers was a priority.

During a press conference on Friday at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the U.S. diplomatic representative took an interventionist tone, saying he was concerned about Mexico’s management of the reopening of international supply chains — noting that decisions were not being coordinated with the United States.

And Washington, with whom do you coordinate?

We already know that Trump’s election zeal will fail to make anything better. And now he has also announced the unprecedented and unusual measure of completely closing the borders to migrants. He is claiming that the rationale is to safeguard jobs for his own people at a time when COVID-19 crises are exploding. Even analysts from his own stomping grounds are claiming this is another strategy aimed at his quest for reelection. There is also pressure from within, specifically from United States industry and mainly in the automotive sector. This is based in northern border states of Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila and Nuevo León, where the contagion has been found to be more intense.

A brief but well-documented note from the website El Economista explains “the problem” with labor in the automotive sector: Industry in the United States is highly dependent on parts manufactured in Mexico. And the United States is the third largest manufacturer of motor vehicles in the world … but that does not give it rights.

Mexico already has its own ups and downs by virtue of the economic damages caused by the pandemic. A study by the consulting firm PWC published by the newspaper Por Esto! claims that 31% of Mexican companies will have to lay off staff. And at least six out of 10 will cancel or defer investments, as a result of the restrictions that the government had to enforce for nonessential activities since March 24 — and because of the March 30 declaration of a public health emergency.

However, the announcements from the U.S. are not so much due to concern about the economic impact that industrial stoppage is causing this country or its own, but rather to the repercussions it will have on the electorate and the November election.

Anti-Obrador feints by the Mexican right have not been lacking either as it takes advantage of the situation. But in Mexico, warned Ramírez Cuéllar, “activities must be resumed once the health of workers is guaranteed, not before; not depending on economic interests.”

This was confirmed this Wednesday by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, when, saying that nothing will be as before, he announced a plan to return to what he called “the new normal” that will be implemented in a “gradual, orderly and cautious” manner, as the minister of the economy described it. The president announced that its application will be voluntary, and will take into account the decisions of each state or locality.

The plan will take place in three stages beginning on May 18 and involving the so-called municipalities of hope, 269 hundred sixty-nine territories where no cases of contagion have been reported in a large country where more than 38,500 cases are registered to date. In addition, the municipalities must not be adjacent to a territory with positive cases.

Juventud Rebelde has learned from leaked information that the citizens of Mexico are receiving this well. In the end, that’s what counts.

About this publication

About Patricia Simoni 78 Articles
I first edited and translated for Watching America from 2009 through 2011, recently returning and rediscovering the pleasure of working with dedicated translators and editors. Latin America is of special interest to me. In the mid-60’s, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile, and later lived for three years in Mexico, in the states of Oaxaca and Michoacán and in Mexico City. During those years, my work included interviewing in anthropology research, teaching at a bilingual school in the federal district, and conducting workshops in home nursing care for disadvantaged inner city women. I earned a BS degree from Wagner College, masters and doctoral degrees from WVU, and was a faculty member of the WVU School of Nursing for 27 years. In that position, I coordinated a two-year federal grant (FIPSE) at WVU for an exchange of nursing students with the University of Guanajuato, Mexico. Presently a retiree, I live in Morgantown, West Virginia, where I enjoy traditional Appalachian fiddling with friends. Working toward the mission of WA, to help those in the U.S. see ourselves as others see us, gives me a sense of purpose.

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