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Mexican protesters demand border with US be closed

Two weeks ago, Jazz wrote about Mexican health officials who were concerned the border with the U.S. needed to be closed to keep Mexico safe from the coronavirus. Yesterday, Arizona Central reported that a group of protesters blocked incoming lanes on the Mexican side of the border checkpoint in Nogales to prevent Americans from coming into the country.

Protesters on the Mexican side of the border blocked for several hours on Wednesday the Mexico-bound lanes at the main border crossing in the twin border cities of Ambos Nogales, to express their displeasure with the Mexican government’s response so far to the new coronavirus pandemic…

Less than a dozen people wearing face masks and carrying signs used two of their vehicles for a blockade of the two southbound lanes at the DeConcini crossing, several hundred feet into the Mexican side of the border, video taken by Mexican media showed.

Some of the signs asked U.S. residents to “stay at home.” Others called on Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to step up controls and restrictions along the U.S.-Mexico border to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The leader of this small band said the concern was that loose border controls would wind up spreading the virus in Mexico. The aim of the protest wasn’t to shame Americans so much as to shame Mexico’s president into taking action.

“This is for your health. This is for your family,” Hernandez said. “Or what do you want to happen? That this becomes worse given the irresponsibility of the Mexican government? Of course not. That’s why were here.”

The Trump administration has already closed the borders with Canada and Mexico to non-essential travel, but the protesters in Nogales say not enough is being done to ensure the traffic coming across the border is actually essential. Part of the reason people are so worried about the potential for the virus to spread is that President Lopez Obrador has expressed almost no concern about the virus thus far:

“We’re going to keep living life as usual,” a relaxed Andrés Manuel López Obrador insisted in an online video shot during a weekend tour of the southern Mexican state.

“I’ll tell you when not to go out any longer,” the left-wing populist said, explaining that the pandemic was still only in its first phase.

“If you’re able and have the means to do so, continue taking your family out to eat … because that strengthens the economy.”

López Obrador, who most know as Amlo, has responded to the coronavirus crisis with nonchalance – never missing an opportunity to contradict the advice of public health officials or paint the pandemic as a plot to derail his presidency.

In recent weeks Amlo has routinely avoided social distancing and organised campaign-style rallies rife with gladhanding, hugs and baby-kissing.

President ALMO, as he is known, is the same guy who has taken a similarly relaxed “hugs not bullets” approach to cartel crime. That has been an ongoing disaster so far with Mexico reporting the highest murder rate in its history last year.

The lax approach to the virus finally started to change this week with Mexico’s first social distancing measures put in place Tuesday. However, not everyone has gotten the message. A state governor in central Mexico is telling people the poor are immune to the virus:

Puebla Gov. Miguel Barbosa’s comment Wednesday was apparently partly a response to indications that the wealthy have made up a significant percentage of Mexicans infected to date, including some prominent business executives…

“The majority are wealthy people. If you are rich, you are at risk. If you are poor, no,” Barbosa said of the coronavirus. “We poor people, we are immune.”

Barbosa also appeared to be playing on an old stereotype held by some Mexicans that poor sanitation standards may have strengthened their immune systems by exposing them to bacteria or other bugs.

All that to say, the protesters demanding stricter controls over the border may be some of the most sane people on the scene at the moment. I wonder if the U.S. media will rush to proclaim them all racists for doing this?

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