3 of Mexico’s top leaders have tested positive for coronavirus

The top men in church, state and commerce are under care while Mexico grapples with unceasing pandemic

Three of Mexico's most powerful men are under treatment for COVID-19. Photos: File
Three of Mexico’s most powerful men are under treatment for COVID-19. Photos: File

Three of Mexico’s most powerful men — representing church, state and commerce — have contracted COVID-19.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, 67, admitted Sunday that he had tested positive for the virus and had isolated in his apartment in Mexico’s National Palace with mild symptoms.

On Monday, Mexico’s wealthiest man, the 80-year-old telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim, was reported to be under hospital care for COVID-19.

Mexico was already dealing with the knowledge that Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, a 78-year-old archbishop who retired in 2017, has been in intensive care for COVID since Jan. 12.

Mexico has recorded nearly 150,000 official COVID-19 deaths, the fourth-highest death toll in the world. The true count is generally assumed to be much higher as the country’s total 2020 deaths are 274,486 more than normal.

“Yesterday the president, today the richest and most successful businessman in Mexico,” said Gabriel Guerra Castellanos, a former diplomat and political analyst, on Twitter. “They are added to the close to 1,800,000 cases officially confirmed so far in our country. Obviously, serious self-criticism and an urgent rethinking of strategy are needed.”

Mexico has failed to invest in widespread testing and the president has opted not to wear a mask, even in public settings.

He announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 late Sunday shortly after a three-day multistate tour where he held several meetings and attended two events. He took a commercial Aeromexico flight home the following day despite already feeling sick.

AMLO, as he is known, has repeatedly downplayed the risks of the virus. “No lying, no stealing, no betraying, that helps a lot to not get coronavirus,” he said during the virus’ initial surge, implying good moral conduct would shield one from infection.

Slim, by contrast, has been a leading crusader against the spread of coronavirus. He singularly cut a deal to provide vaccines across Latin America and his charitable foundation has been licensed by AstraZeneca to supply 150 million doses to the region.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s chief strategist against COVID-19, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, 67, is in confinement as a preventive measure after being in close contact with López Obrador.

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