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LatinNews Daily - 02 July 2020

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MEXICO: Criticisms and concerns over Covid-19 persist

On 1 July, healthcare workers staged a protest in front of the headquarters of Mexico’s social security institute (IMSS) in Mexico City, continuing to demand better working conditions amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) emergency.

Analysis:

Workers in Mexico’s public healthcare sector have been protesting over the authorities’ response to the pandemic and notably demanding more personal protective equipment (PPE) since the beginning of the outbreak in the country. That this remains an issue almost four months on belies the claims made by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government that its strategy to combat the coronavirus has been satisfactory and successful.

  • Members of the Unión de Trabajadores por la Salud de México (UTSM) healthcare workers’ union called yesterday’s demonstration, to demand more PPE and also denounce that the IMSS had dismissed workers for making these demands in the past. Speaking to local media, UTSM spokesperson and nurse, Rafael Soto, said that the IMSS had threatened to sanction workers who took part in yesterday’s demonstrations.
  • These criticisms came as Mexico overtook Spain to become the country with the sixth highest number of Covid-19 fatalities globally. According to the John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resources Center, Mexico has now recorded 28,510 deaths from the disease; Spain has 28,364.
  • Mexico’s case-load totals 231,770, the tenth highest in the world, but underdetection of the disease is understood to be particularly widespread in the country, which has the world’s highest testing positivity rate, with 66.9% of Covid-19 tests coming back positive according to the 25 June seven-day rolling average – a sign of a lack of testing.   
  • President López Obrador glossed over the public health impacts of Covid-19 yesterday in a speech to mark the two-year anniversary of his election as president, in which he sought to stress his administration’s victories so far. “The country [...] has almost always followed the recommendations of experts, and together we are now overcoming this difficult conjuncture”, López Obrador said of the health emergency.

Looking Ahead: Whether it was optimism on Mexico’s economic outlook, assurances that the worst of the pandemic has passed or the assertion that his government’s security policy has delivered results, López Obrador’s claims in his speech rang hollow – portending the growing criticism that his government is likely to continue facing on many fronts.