For a moment, let’s leave those killed by the pandemic and violence in Mexico alone. There will be time to talk about them.
Let us concentrate, as the President of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador wishes, on the corruption and fraud that have plagued the last six-year terms. His diagnosis is correct: corruption corrodes democracy, stops economic growth and increases social inequalities. And I find it extraordinary that a president is finally willing to do something about it. So let’s talk about all the videos (and in the end I’ll refer to the one of the president’s brother).
A video uploaded clandestinely to YouTube – and presented by AMLO in one of his morning sessions – shows two former Senate employees, who worked for representatives of the National Action Party, receiving millions of pesos in bundles of bills. The money that came in suitcases was, supposedly, for the then senators to vote for a controversial energy reform approved during the government of Enrique Peña Nieto. “It is quite strong,” said the president when presenting the video, “it shows the filth of the corruption regime”.
The video is shocking because of the normality with which the two men count money – as if it were an everyday thing – and how easy it was to record the entire process. Did you never realize you were being filmed?
There is no way of knowing if this video is part of the material that the former director of Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), Emilio Lozoya, delivered to the Attorney General’s Office. Lozoya was recently extradited to Mexico. In his criminal complaint, leaked to the press, Lozoya accuses 16 politicians and officials (including three former presidents) of corruption and influence peddling. they were considered untouchable.
The attorney general, Alejandro Gertz Manero, said recently that – based on statements made by Lozoya – some $ 18 million from the Odebrecht company were distributed as bribes between Mexican congressmen and senators to buy their votes, and that another four and a half million from dollars were earmarked for the 2012 election campaign that put Peña Nieto in the presidency.
This is extremely important. Never in the history of Mexico has a former president been prosecuted or imprisoned for corruption and electoral fraud. Never. And that we have many scams to talk about.
López Obrador is convinced that he lost the presidency in the 2012 and 2006 elections due to two major electoral frauds. And I was able to interview him after both times.
How was the fraud in which you lost to Felipe Calderón carried out? I asked him in July 2006, weeks after the voting.
“We can talk about two moments,” he explained. First it was “everything that the lack of equity meant before the election: the unequal management of radio and television spaces, the use of money … the intervention of the president (Vicente Fox), the dirty war.” And then the trap. “The fraud is in the falsification of records. There are a certain number of records that are falsified where there are more votes than ballots… A million and a half (of votes). Tried”.
And how was the fraud in which you lost to Peña Nieto in 2012? I asked him in a 2017 interview.
“They bought votes,” he told me. Five million votes. They imposed it. It was not enough with the publicity. Because they were inflating Peña Nieto. It is a media phenomenon that has cost the country a lot. An empty character. They introduced it to the market as it is introduced a junk product”.
And if López Obrador wants to investigate the frauds that prevented him from reaching the presidency in 2006 and 2012, it would not be bad for him to also take a look at the monumental fraud of 1988 that gave the presidency to the PRI Carlos Salinas de Gortari.
“We are convinced that 99% of Mexicans were fraud in 1988,” the candidate who was taken from the presidency, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, told me. shortly after. It is enough that López Obrador asked what happened in 1988 to Manuel Bartlett, one of his main collaborators, who was in charge of that election as Secretary of the Interior and accused of being responsible for the famous “fall of the system”. It is a gigantic incongruity for the president to complain about electoral fraud and, at the same time, have Bartlett in his cabinet.
It would also be good if you investigated the videos, disseminated by the Latinus site (of the journalist Carlos Loret de Mola), in which his brother, Pío López Obrador appears, receiving bags in 2015 with cash.
According to the president himself, in his press conference on Friday, “People cooperated with resources” to support his movement (although at that time Morena it was already a political party). AMLO said he did not know who specifically gave that money or if it was registered with the National Electoral Institute. Well, to be honest and to be even with everyone, the president should investigate and report it. You can’t listen to the video of the money bags and forget about the videos of the paper bags.
It is essential for the survival of any democracy that the main crimes and frauds of the past are clarified. Mexico cannot continue to be the country of impunity. Nothing happens to someone who robs a citizen from a truck at gunpoint, nor to the small groups of politicians, businessmen and journalists who have stolen presidential elections.
A transparent, effective and non-partisan commission of truth and memory is urgently required. But more than anything else, you need an independent justice system that you can trust. The crimes and irregularities suggested by the videos and in Lozoya’s statement have yet to be proven.
It is not normal to deliver money in suitcases and paper bags. If López Obrador really wants to fight corruption, this is an extraordinary opportunity to prove it. I hope it does not fall short. Hopefully it is even. I hope it does not fail us.
Journalist and presenter of the Univision Newscast. Twitter: @jorgeramosnews.