AMLO Defends Acapulco Hurricane Recovery Effort After Criticism of Response

(Bloomberg) -- President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday defended his government’s response to Hurricane Otis, the category-5 storm that smashed into the resort city of Apaculco last Wednesday and left at least 45 people dead and 47 missing.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Lopez Obrador’s administration has been roundly criticized by political rivals and experts for not giving residents adequate warning before the storm hit and then for failing to provide security and basic supplies in the storm’s wake amid a prolonged search for the missing. Lopez Obrador spent much of a press conference conference Monday attacking critics and TV anchors.

“We’re not going to hide anything at all. We’re not like the corrupt people before,” the president, adding that the media had been irresponsible in how it reported information. “They’re like vultures looking for the dead,” he said.

Read More: Hurricane Disaster in Mexico Spurs Criticism of AMLO Response

Officials have vowed that electricity will be reestablished in much of the city by Tuesday as the armed forces direct the recovery effort and delivery of aid. Early estimates put the damage at $15 billion.

By Monday, 1,600 government workers were engaged in a house-by-house census, seeking to determine the extent of the damage. Mexico’s banking association said lenders would waive withdrawal fees normally charged customers while the Finance Ministry, tax authority and development bank Banobras were scheduled to meet with hotel owners.

Former presidents Felipe Calderon and Vicente Fox both publicly aired their frustration over the government’s response, prompting AMLO, as the president is known, to fire back. He also slammed major television outlets, such as Televisa and TV Azteca, for their coverage of the hurricane and subsequent recovery efforts. The president has long had a testy relationship with the press.

“They want things to go badly for us, and for there to be a lot of dead,” said Lopez Obrador, who is in the last year of his six-year term and is not eligible to run for reelection in June, but whose party seeks to remain the dominant political force after the 2024 vote in Mexico. “We are confronting the adversities, especially the loss of human life, and we’ll keep fighting, for our own well-being and that of future generations.”

A poll by the El Financiero newspaper Monday showed 43% of 1,620 people surveyed nationwide said the government was doing a good or very good job in helping Acapulco, while 39% rated it as bad or very bad. Fifty-one percent of Mexicans polled disapproved of the government’s preventive measures before the hurricane.

Read More: Acapulco Death Toll Rises as Mexico Reels From Hurricane

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.