Speaking in Berlin, President Calderón gave this perspective on Mexico’s challenges and performance:
I can say to you, my friends, that during the past year we faced not just four, but five Horsemen of the Apocalypse. These riders were:
First, this … influenza virus. …We had the global economic crisis. The Mexican economy was very close to the epicenter, very near the eye of the hurricane. …We had, obviously, the crisis coming from the violence of the organized crime groups one against the other, which basically affected certain areas of the country. …We also had the second worst drought in almost 70 years. And, fifth, we had the largest decline in oil production in Mexico’s entire history.
However, my friends, we are putting these five problems behind us, and we are overcoming them with determination.
Today, for example, we have clearly overcome the flu pandemic. More than 30 million vaccine doses have been given or are being given in Mexico.We now have the hospital capacity to face up to any emergency of this kind. Allow me to say that in the three years of my government, we have built or remodeled 1,500 hospitals clinics or across the country. … Turning to economic matters; today our economy is growing at a 4.2% rate, which is the IMF forecast. And we are generating jobs. The April jobs number is still to be confirmed, but we are expecting that during the first four months of the year 380,000 formal-sector jobs were created, the fastest job growth for a four month period in the last 10 years. We have also resolved the problem of providing drinking water to the population, despite the grave risks that we faced, especially in Mexico City, and we have stabilized the production of oil at 2.6 million barrels per day. In conclusion, my friends, we are overcoming the crisis.
The Ministry of Finance said that GDP in the second quarter fell 10.4% year over year, with the H1N1 flu contributing importantly to the contraction. The ministry will wait until the delivery of economic package on September 8th to provide revised forecasts for the year and its outlook for 2010. Separately, Banco de Mexico said that its expectation was for full year decline in 2009 GDP of -6.5% to -7.5%, with growth of 2.5% to 3.5% next year. Both the agencies noted that important signs of economic stabilization emerged in May and June. (SHCP, Banxico)
A second wave of the A(H1N1) flu has struck southeastern Mexico, affecting Chiapas and Yucatán in particular. The authorities are responding with more nuanced measures than the initial outbreak in April. Governor Juan Sabines of Chiapas replaced his health minister after it was disclosed that Chiapas, which was largely spared during the initial outbreak, now had the highest number of cases in Mexico. According the federal Ministry of Health, there have been 15,383 confirmed A(H1N1) cases and 140 deaths nationwide. (Reforma 7/22, 7/26)
President Calderón launched a Ps. 1.2 billion tourism promotion campaign called Vive Mexico to help re-launch the tourist sector after the flu outbreak. Accompanied by sports figures, artists, actors, businessmen, and public officials, the President said, “We will tell the world who we are: a strong nation, united, and with a unique identity. However hard, however difficult have been the tests through which we have had to pass,… Mexico is united and Mexico will go forward.” (Universal 5/26)
A meeting of the PRI governors and congressional leaders with party president Beatriz Paredes was a litany of demands that she be more combative against the PAN’s constant attacks. Paredes was quoted as saying, “My strategists tell me that it won’t be productive to enter into a direct confrontation with the PAN. The moment we do so, the voters will perceive a radicalization and not see us as a serene party that has proposals and experience in government.” Despite this, the PRI (using the pseudonym Anton Chigurh) produced its first YouTube video attacking Calderón for his handling of the flu outbreak. (Universal 5/23, Reforma 5/25)
At his daily briefing, Health Minister José Ángel Córdova said that the number of proved H1N1 flu cases reached more than 2,000, with 56 deaths. Cases have been reported in 29 of Mexico’s 31 states. The peak for new cases continues to be April 26, with a declining trend since then. (Presidencia 5/11, Reforma 5/11)
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Even as the H1N1 flu outbreak seemed to stabilize at the national level — Health Secretary José Ángel Córdova spoke at the daily press conference on Friday without a face mask — four states reported new outbreaks of the flu. The Ministry of Health’s statistics continued to show the peak of the outbreak as of April 26, with a total of 1,364 confirmed cases including 45 confirmed deaths. Hidalgo, Jalisco, San Luis Potosi, and Guerrero all reported large increases in the number of cases. Three of the states decided to keep their schools closed for another week, while San Luis has not yet made a final decision. (Milenio 5/9)
President Calderón’s trip to Cuba, which was intended to signal a normalization of relations between the two countries after the tensions of the Fox years, has been postponed “indefinitely.” Cuba was the first country to suspend air travel to Mexico after the flu outbreak. (Proceso 5/9)
Andrés Manuel López Obrador held a campaign rally in Veracruz that openly flouted the health guidelines of the Ministry of Health and the IFE for campaign rallies. AMLO said, “This influenza isn’t worth a plugged nickel; we will go forward until we have democracy,” even as his close ally Manuel Camacho was hospitalized with the flu. (Excelsior 5/8)
The Mexico City government will allow nightclubs, movie theaters, and gyms to reopen. The restrictions on restaurants that had forced them to double the distance between tables have also been lifted, although precautionary measures, such as the requirement that waiters wear face masks, remain in place. (Reforma 5/7)
The large number of completed lab tests provide additional evidence that the H1N1 outbreak is less virulent and widespread than originally feared. Only about one-third of the tests of those suspected of having the virus are coming back positive for H1N1. The official death toll has, however, risen to 42, with 37 deaths in April and in May to date. President Calderón warned that “Now is not the time to declare victory and say it’s over. … We cannot say that it is under control, that we are not going to have more cases.” (Reforma 5/6, Excelsior 5/7)