The writer Elena Poniatowska, one of Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s highest profile followers, rekindled on Tuesday the controversy over the usefulness and propaganda purposes of the Mexican president’s daily press conferences, known as “mañaneras.”
“It is an excess of President López Obrador with so many” mornings, “it is an abuse of presidential power to force journalists to go every morning to ask questions in a way,” said Poniatowska in an interview on the Political Index portal published on Monday.
After the indignation of the president’s supporters, the 88-year-old writer changed her version this Tuesday in a radio interview with MVS Noticias, in which she suggested that the journalist who interviewed her “makes her harvest”, but without denying her statements .
“I think it is a very valuable and valid new form of information, and I think journalists appreciate it, of course we do,” said the artist.
The controversy occurs while the National Electoral Institute (INE) has demanded that the president stop broadcasting his entire conferences in this election year, in which 94 million people will be able to vote on June 6 to renew the Chamber of Deputies and 15 state governments .
INE advisers believe that the press conference can be considered government propaganda because the government boasts its achievements, exhibits critical journalists and directly attacks opponents.
“The president cannot enter the electoral field to benefit or harm any player. Neutrality and impartiality are constitutional principles,” Ciro Murayama, INE electoral adviser, shared on Tuesday.
The confrontation escalated last week when the INE demanded that the Presidency clarify payments to reporters who come to ask questions related to the Government.
Some of these journalists, in particular “youtubers” or “influencers”, have raised suspicions for accessing privileges such as diplomatic appointments, new public positions, access to the covid-19 vaccine and candidacies to be federal deputies.
The Presidency has defended the “mañaneras”, which take place from Monday to Friday from 7:00 local time (13:00 GMT) at the National Palace, as an unprecedented exercise in transparency that contrasts with his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto (2012- 2018), who only offered a couple of press conferences in his six-year term.
The reproductions of these conferences add up to more than 235 million views on López Obrador’s YouTube profile and another 50 million on official government channels.
These conferences are a form of direct communication between López Obrador and his supporters because they lack a time limit, as reflected in the record of 3 hours 12 minutes of the press conference on November 11.
However, Elena Poniatowska’s statements have found echo in civil organizations that have criticized the “morning” alleging that there are misleading comments by the president and attacks on activists and journalists.
“Those who supported AMLO (López Obrador) with all their energy to reach the Presidency, are accepting that his behavior is authoritarian and undemocratic. The sect always attacks those who leave,” María Elena Morera, president of Causa, wrote on Tuesday in common.