MEXICO CITY – Mexico is ready to move past the coronavirus crisis and get its economy growing again, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday in his regular morning press conference.
“We’re ready to move on from the pandemic and we need to reactivate the economy, get past the economic recession, the drop that the coronavirus produced in the world economy,” the head of state said.
Four months since the arrival of the potentially fatal respiratory disease, Mexico has registered more than 216,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 26,648 deaths attributed to COVID-19, while nearly half the country is at the level of “maximum risk.”
Even so, Lopez Obrador expressed optimism on Monday at Mexico’s National Palace and reiterated that on Wednesday he will host a ceremony at that seat of the federal executive to commemorate the second anniversary of his July 1, 2018, election victory.
He also ruled out the possibility of suspending the Cry of Dolores (the call to arms that triggered the 1810-1821 War of Independence), which is re-enacted every year from the balcony of the National Palace on Sept. 15, the eve of Independence Day.
Some state governments have announced they will not re-enact that shout of patriotism this year due to the infection risk associated with large crowds.
“Of course we have to give the Cry of Dolores. How can we forget our history? How can we forget our (War of) Independence, the (1858-1861 War of) Reform and the (1910-1920 Mexican) Revolution when we’re carrying out the Fourth Transformation of the country’s public life?” Lopez Obrador said.
The leftist president also criticized the “pessimism” of the International Monetary Fund, which has forecast a 10.5 percent plunge in Mexico’s gross domestic product this year.
Lopez Obrador noted that the Mexican Social Security Institute has forecast that fewer than 100,000 formal jobs will be shed in June, which would be a big improvement over the 1 million jobs lost between March and May.
He also touted a 10 percent average annual increase in remittances received by Mexico in the first half of the year.
“All indications are that we’ve already hit bottom and we’re heading for the surface. We’re going to emerge; we’re going to grow economically. We already have reason to say that, in economic terms, the worst is over,” the president added.
In that context, Lopez Obrador said the entry into force of the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which on Wednesday will replace the 26-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, is a “very important” and “very timely” development.
The new agreement “will mean investment” and “job creation” for the country, said Lopez Obrador, who plans to travel to the US soon to meet with US President Donald Trump and celebrate the launch of the trade deal, characterized as NAFTA 2.0.
That foreign visit will be the Mexican president’s first since taking office in December 2018.