The shouts to López-Gatell

Undersecretary of Health Hugo López-Gatell is clearly fighting for his life within the federal government. In less than 24 hours, he sought out two reporters whom he knows for their coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, to cut his losses, perhaps with the purpose of preventing his departure from the government. The coronavirus czar must have realized last week that he stinks of death in the National Palace, perhaps understanding that the only thing that has prevented President Andrés Manuel López Obrador from dismissing him are doubts about the cost of his dismissal and criticism for failure in strategy.

López-Gatell, from what is seen, came out to defend his position, and in a statement he made to Blanca Valadez, a reporter for Milenio, he denied that he had resigned and said he had no doubt that President López Obrador continues to support him. In this way he responded to the Alejandro Aguirre column in El Universal, where he affirmed last week that the coronavirus czar had submitted his resignation and the president had rejected it. There was no confirmation or denial of Aguirre’s version, but what officials think is that López-Gatell is on the threshold of the street.

His statements about the refusal to vaccinate minors, a corollary of his complaints that parents of children with comorbidities took refuge in demanding that they be given the vaccines, as part of a conspiracy against the government, was too much even for the government itself. President López Obrador experienced firsthand the negative reaction in his government and the criticism of all those with whom he spoke, against the undersecretary. A consummate liar, López-Gatell told reporter Valadez, however, that the cabinet was “very friendly” with him.

The undersecretary has placed himself on a pathetic level in defending himself, when inside the Palace, everyone, literally everyone, is turned against him, starting with President López Obrador. Last week, behind the wave of criticism from cabinet members, the presidential spokesman, Jesús Ramírez Cuevas, with whom López-Gatell already had arrogant attitudes of disdain, showed López Obrador a detailed press analysis of the reactions he generated. the declaration of the coronavirus czar, hours after it was made, where there were no positive texts.

The president’s annoyance against López-Gatell lasted until the next day, when he no longer contained himself. In his office he had memoranda signed by the Secretary of Foreign Relations, Marcelo Ebrard, with the details of how the Undersecretary of Health had been ignored in the budget planning to acquire the booster vaccines for next year. López-Gatell’s carelessness, understandable only by his conviction that vaccines are useless and his preference, despite the failures in the world, to herd immunity, has a much more serious ingredient than his own beliefs. Last year the Foreign Ministry was able to acquire vaccines because it was considered an emergency situation, which allowed the legal reversal of that attribution that only corresponds to the Ministry of Health. In the first year, the extraordinary situation forced extraordinary actions. A year later, the lack of vaccines due to neglect proves a criminal responsibility.

López-Gatell should have been sure that he will not be criminally sued, due to the presidential support he enjoyed, but last week this protection vanished. President López Obrador, who was still annoyed with him, began to scold him, and the undersecretary began to defend himself, without really being able to rationally justify what he had committed. It seemed clear that not only was the president talking about a presumptive issue, but that this neglect could represent criticism by linking the lack of vaccines with deaths from Covid-19 of children with comorbidities. The president showed him Ebrard’s memos and grew in exasperation with the undersecretary, at whom, in front of the security cabinet, he was yelling at him.

The affirmation of the undersecretary to the reporter Valadez that “I have no doubt that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador continues to support my actions,” is a blatant lie, as is his assertion that the relationship with the head of government of Mexico City, Claudia Sheinbaum, is “excellent”. Sheinbaum and Ebrard were the first to collide with him in October last year, and the tension has not abated. López-Gatell has been harsher with Sheinbaum, whom he seems to have punished in the distribution of vaccines, and the head of government, as reported here last week, asked the president for the resignation of the undersecretary.

At that time, López Obrador showed no intention of punishing the undersecretary, but after last week, the president asked his coordinator of advisers, Lázaro Cárdenas, to prepare an assessment of the costs and benefits of keeping López-Gatell in office. It is the first time that the president has expressed the possibility of dismissing López-Gatell, which everything indicates will depend on the analysis that Cárdenas presents to him.

The undersecretary does not help himself either. Within this fight for his bureaucratic life, he sought out the La Jornada reporter, Ángeles Cruz, to reverse his statements that for each dose against covid-19 that was applied to minors through amparos, the opportunity was taken away from who had a higher risk. López-Gatell told reporter Cruz that one million children and adolescents between 12 and 17 years old who have risk factors and who could die from covid, will receive the vaccine. Of that size is the criminal negligence of someone who until a week ago did not care that 1,000,000 minors died.

It is unforgivable. The president must make the decision to remove him. It is true that there will be criticism, but it is also true that many of us will appreciate that you fired an incompetent official before he continues to cause more damage. To paraphrase a Marxist saying, President, it is dialectical to rectify.

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