MEXICO CITY – It was still dark when Mexico’s new president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, left his home in a modest vehicle and crossed the Mexican capital to the National Palace to start his workday.
When the bells of the Metropolitan Cathedral rang at 6:00 am, Lopez Obrador was already meeting with his security Cabinet to find solutions to the intolerable violence hammering the country.
He was accompanied before dawn by Government Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero, Public Safety Secretary Alfonso Durazo, and the secretaries of the army, Luis Crescencio Sandoval; and navy, Jose Rafael Ojeda.
They had all entered the palace, located in Mexico City’s giant main square, the Zocalo, when the enormous Mexican flag has not yet been raised there.
The blaring trumpet that greeted the head of state in the entrance hall of the palace served as Lopez Obrador’s alarm clock that would finish clearing his mind to get a grip on his ideas.
With near-Teutonic punctuality, the president appeared at 7:01 am in a press room crowded with over 100 reporters, photojournalists and videographers.
Expectations ran high about what he might announce, given that he came to power just three days ago, though that was not enough to awaken some of the sleepy faces among the reporters, who also had to get up before first light.
But one who gives warning cannot be called a traitor. The leftist leader had repeated for some time that upon winning the presidency he would restore the traditional morning press conferences that characterized his term as Mexico City mayor between 2000-2005.
Lopez Obrador said he wants “a government of the people and for the people,” and knows that the people are early risers. Specifically, 6:30 am is when most Mexicans start opening their eyes, according to a survey by the Mitofsky pollsters.
People of a certain age get up even earlier, as shown by the president, who at 65 was lucid and energetic throughout the conference, even inclined to crack a joke to make the early morning meeting more bearable.
After speaking of salary cuts for senior officials, the smiling president asked reporters to “raise your hand whoever earns more than 150,000 pesos ($7,000)” a month, unleashing fits of laughter around the auditorium.
Meanwhile, the first rays of sunlight appeared through the latticework on the ceiling, illuminating this elegant palace chamber adorned with lamps decorated with golden lions’ heads.
At 7.58 am, Lopez Obrador wrapped up the reporters’ round of questions and with an “hasta mañana” and a wave of the hand he bid them farewell.
When they left, the Zocalo was again busy with the usual noise and traffic of downtown Mexico City.