As governments around the world urge residents to stay indoors and practice ‘social distancing’ due to the coronavirus, Mexico’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has come under fire for staging huge rallies in spite of the risks.
While politicians in the neighboring US are cancelling rallies, holding crucial debates in empty halls with no audience, and ditching handshakes for elbow bumps, Obrador, also known as AMLO, has taken a drastically different approach – ramping up his public activities instead.
Obrador, who is currently touring the southwestern Mexican state of Guerrero, could be seen shaking hands, taking selfies, hugging, and even kissing his numerous supporters during stops in the cities of Marquelia, Cruz Grande, and in the area of Costa Chica over the weekend.
ALMO has made no secret of his busy schedule, posting an array of videos of his passionate interactions with his supporters on Twitter.
A video from Costa Chica shows him walking past a jubilant crowd, shaking hands and eagerly stopping for selfies. “People on the Costa Chica are excited and happy,” the tweet’s caption reads.
Another video posted on Sunday shows him addressing a huge crowd from a podium set up in the middle of a sea of people.
“I had to get out of the truck several times. It is intense, but the affection of the people is comforting,” Obrador wrote.
En todo Cruz Grande nos pararon; tuve que bajarme varias veces de la camioneta. Es intenso, pero reconforta el cariño de la gente. pic.twitter.com/fvnMaObGaE
— Andrés Manuel (@lopezobrador_) March 16, 2020
Obrador’s ‘business-as-usual’ approach to rallies has sparked a backlash online, with critics accusing him of putting his supporters at risk of contracting the virus, and setting a bad example.
“I voted for you. But don’t be irresponsible at times of risk of contagion. Save yourself and set the example,” a follower wrote.
“What irresponsibility! It’s not all about you, you must lead by example,” another said.
By refusing to bring his campaigning to a halt or make adjustments to reduce the risk of the spread of the virus, Obrador appears to be at odds with the latest recommendations of the Health Ministry.
The ministry unveiled the ‘Sana Distancia’ (healthy distance) initiative on Saturday, which, however, takes effect in a week – starting March 23.
“It’s social distancing, it’s about distance to keep us healthy,” the ministry said.
There have been 53 confirmed coronavirus cases in Mexico, with media reporting of at least one death resulting from the pandemic on Mexican soil. Local media reported that businessman Jose Kuri succumbed to the virus after returning from a trip to the US.
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