Who is Maria Fernanda? Imposter reporter tells Kamala Harris 'I voted for you'
'For me, it’s an honor because I actually got to vote for the first time as a nationalized citizen,' said the woman who infiltrated the press meet
An alleged impostor claiming to be a reporter stood up at a press conference in Mexico City to tell Kamala Harris that she voted for her and that it was "an honor" to ask her a question. Harris was in the Mexican capital on Tuesday, June 8 to meet President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Maria Fernanda was one of only five people Harris' press secretary Symone Sanders called on for questions on Tuesday. She told the vice president that the next question would be asked by "Maria Fernanda, from Univision." “Thank you, Madam Vice President,” Fernanda responded as she stood up. “For me, it’s an honor because I actually got to vote for the first time as a nationalized citizen. I voted for you.”
“My question is, what would you say to these women, those mothers and also women of color on both sides of the border, farmers, many of them who I see every day as a message of hope but also as... what will you do for them in the next coming years?” Harris told her that it was "a great question," but it was criticized for its fawning tone, according to the Daily Mail. Univision issued a statement shortly after confirming that Fernanda was not a part of their organization.
"In Mexico, an individual which has no association with @Univision claimed to be a reporter for @UniNoticias in order to ask the @VP a question and to compliment," Daniel Coronell, Univision's president of news, tweeted. "Let it be clear to everyone that Ms. Maria Fernanda Reyes is not part of this media organization."
In Mexico an individual which has no association with @Univision claimed to be a reporter for @UniNoticias in order to ask the @VP a question and to compliment @KamalaHarris. Let it be clear to everyone that Ms. Maria Fernanda Reyes is not part of this media organization https://t.co/edxyzRVlt8— Daniel Coronell (@DCoronell) June 9, 2021
According to the Daily Mail, Univision does employ a Maria Fernanda Lopez, but her social media showed her to be in Florida on Tuesday, not Mexico. Meanwhile, the reporter who 'fawned' over Harris was reportedly named online as Maria Fernanda Reyes. More details about her identity are yet to emerge. Speaking to the newspaper, Harris' press secretary Sanders said that they were investigating the incident following concerns about how the woman was able to get so close to the VP.
That said, Univision News Senior Vice President Jose Zamora told the Daily Mail that the network's real correspondent in Mexico City, Jesica Zermeño, was also in the room at the time. This was corroborated by photographs of her at the same press conference shared online, per the paper. "The person has no relationship with Univision," Zamora said. "No idea who she is. And correct, our Mexico correspondent Jesica Zermeño was there."
Responding to Coronell's clarification, Sanders tweeted, "Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We are looking into this."
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We are looking into this. https://t.co/5gVsyOoudr— SDS (@SymoneSanders46) June 9, 2021
Press conferences involving the US president or vice president are usually with maximum security, requiring several layers of accreditation. Harris met with Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday. She lashed out at questions about when she was planning to visit the southern border, saying it was "short-sighted" to focus on the symptoms and not the "root causes" of the migrant crisis.
Appearing visibly frustrated, Harris shrugged off the idea of a border visit at a news conference in Mexico City. "I think it's short-sighted, for any of us who are in the business of problem-solving to suggest we're only going to respond to the reaction as opposed to addressing the cause," she said.
According to Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei, however, they are "not on the same side of the coin" when it comes to the "root causes" behind the migrant surge at the border. In a conversation with CBS News, he blamed it on what he saw as a more welcoming message to migrants by the Biden administration.
"The message changed too: 'We're going to reunite families, we’re going to reunite children,'" Giammattei told the outlet. "The very next day, the coyotes were here organizing groups of children to take them to the United States."