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López Obrador Says Dying Neo-Liberal System Left Mexico Few Doctors, but FDR Offers an Alternative

April 8, 2020 (EIRNS)—Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador insisted repeatedly this weekend that the novel coronavirus pandemic is proof that the “neo-liberal” economic system of past decades has failed, and that new policies must be adopted. In an address to the nation on April 5, and again in his press conference the next day, he cited Franklin Delano Roosevelt as an alternative model to be adopted.

He demonstrated the case of Mexico’s national healthcare system. Mexico has 6,425 ICU beds with ventilators and specialized staff to man them, and the armed forces have been tasked to prepare another 1,399 ICU beds, he reported to the nation. That brings the total number of ICU beds available in Mexico to just under 7,900—for a country of more than 128 million people.

Orders are being placed for 5,000 more ventilators, but the lack of specialized ICU doctors to use them is a bigger crisis. Mexico does not have enough doctors in general, López Obrador stressed on April 6, and now it has to face this pandemic with only “around 1,000 intensive care specialists, when in a critical situation we will need up to 10,000.

“This is the magnitude of the failure of the neo-liberal policy. This is one of the most perverse outcomes of the policy that was imposed for 36 years,” he exclaimed. “That is why it is surprising that there are people ... who defend the neo-liberal model, despite its clear failure, because this is not just some ideological or political matter.... Why don’t we have doctors? Why don’t we have specialists?”

Later in that press conference, López Obrador pointed to the two paradigms contending worldwide today:

“We are thinking about what is going to be the model to be pursued.... Because what I am seeing, is that the neo-liberal model is collapsing. That is what is happening; that is, the coronavirus precipitated the fall of a failed model....

“How is it possible that the pandemic has such a huge effect, economically and socially? ... Among other things, social investment was stopped; healthcare was privatized. There are countries today which do not have public services for the population. They are the ones worst hit.”

It is an absurdity that people want to apply “the same old recipes,” he went on.

“Changes must be made. What did President [Franklin] Roosevelt do in a situation like this, which is a model? Reactivate the economy with investment; employment for everyone; a minimum salary for everyone, especially the youth. Reactivate the construction industry. That is how he lifted up the United States and returned tranquility, happiness to his people.... So, why not do the same thing today?”

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