Hello my pretties, and welcome to yet another edition of La Basura Mañanera! Where the most relevant aspects of Mexico’s news are discussed even if it is against my personal health!
Here are the stories you need to know!
Yet another cabinet member resigned today, meaning Lopez Obrador’s government has had four high level resignations in just seven months of governance.
The treasury secretary, Carlos Urzua, quit by publishing a resignation letter on twitter moments after the President’s daily press briefing concluded. Alike the former director of Mexico’s Social Security Institute (IMSS), Urzua complained of horrific mismanagement of government money, and constant obstruction by people he claimed “unfit” to take financial decisions for the Federal government. Some journos believe that one of the unfit obstructionists is Rocio Nalhe, the secretary of economy.
Although Urzua’s letter was shorter than the one by IMSS’ former director, it was even more critical of Lopez Obrador’s administration. Urzua’s replacement is set to be subsecretary of the treasury Arturo Herrera, who isn’t exactly on speaking terms with the President either.
In a shady legislative session that ended at 2AM, the Senate approved the “Republican Austerity Law” which isn’t as boring as it sounds.
The new law dictates that any appropriated money that was saved by spending cuts, or any other cost reduction, can be used at will of the president with an executive order. It also says something about luxury cars that frankly doesn’t matter.
Opposition legislators claimed it was an irresponsible way of using money and it might explain why Lopez Obrador’s government has thus far been on a drastic diet. Or why the treasury secretary has some hot takes to share on twitter.
Journalists called it “partida secreta” in reference to Carlos Salina’s scandal around the same fucking aspect of public finance. Evidently Obrador did not like how public this whole ordeal became, and requested that the media “not compare” him with former President Carlos Salinas.
According to Federal Police officers, a quarter of which have been on a national strike for almost a week, the government is planning to get rid of the Federal Police, in favor of Obrador’s baby; the National Guard.
The Feds have been on strike for a variety of reasons, chief among them is that they claim that the government is forcing them to enter the National Guard, claiming it would change their work schedule significantly, and also reduce their benefits. At the moment Lopez Obrador’s security force is having a bad time, mostly because they don’t have nearly as much people as the government says they should, and none of the members they do have have been trained completely.
Some small deployments seem to recognize this. Like in Mexico City where the National Guards are basically escorting police officers who carry out the actual preventative work and set up checkpoints. Only time will tell if Obrador’s security strategy will curb Mexico’s ever worsening violence wave.
Javier Duarte, a man who -and I can’t emphasize this enough- stole public money for children with leukemia, said that the only reason he’s in police custody is because he made a pact with former President Peña Nieto.
On a phone-in interview, the governor claimed that he had valuable information about previous government officials who squandered public money, and that he was offered immunity for his family if he turned himself in before the 2017 gubernatorial elections in State of Mexico. Said elections were won by Alfredo Del Mazo, a member of Peña Nieto’s party, PRI. Only time will tell if Mexico’s Attorney General will act upon Duarte’s testimony.
Thus far only one member of the previous administration has been arrested, the CEO of Pemex, Emiliano Lozoya. Who is accused of like a million things, like receiving millions in bribes from Odebrecht, and spending millions in public money jetting around the country in private jets. Other members of the administration, like former Secretary of Government (basically, VP.) Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, are claiming that they know nothing of this pact and that they’ve done nothing wrong.
In other news, Peña Nieto is still dancing with model, and new girlfriend, Tania Ruiz.
The governor-elect of Baja California, former Republican donor, and elected official, Jaime Bonilla received some really good news, and is having a better monday than you.
His term was extended from two years to five by the local congress in a shady legislative session that ended after midnight. Even the opposition party chipped in to make it happen! Jaime Bonilla will be the first member of Morena to rule Baja California, and he broke PAN’s 30 year streak governing the border-state.
Even if PAN still controls the local legislature, and all but one legislators voted to extend the term, PAN’s leader, Marko Cortez, said that they would remove all of the “corrupted” legislators that let Bonilla get the three year extension.
Lopez Obrador has the kind of institutional and popular backing that no president in recent history has had. This approval means he gets away with everything like ignoring laws his own party passed, or giving preposterous excuses for crimes like mass kidnapping. Obrador is basically Mexico’s king, and save for a couple of rowdy feudal lords, the kingdom is not revolting.
So why does Lopez Obrador need direct control of appropriated funds? The funds come from a budget his own secretaries designed, and that was approved by legislators of his own party. The rebirth of loopholes that kept authoritarian regimes up is not only something he did not need, it is also something that he has been, historically, against.
In the past, as mayor of Mexico City, Lopez Obrador seemed to prefer secretive ways of spending money, like the roadways trustfund that lead him to so much trouble. But that was twelve years ago, in a city government, with an opposition-held legislature.
At the moment the bizarre choking of funds has debilitated the Federal Government’s ability to govern, and actually help the vulnerable people that need it the most. Maybe the best is yet to come, just like anything that goes up needs to go down, any money accounted for in the yearly budget, eventually has to be spent.
Maybe it will be used to pay our foreign debt, maybe to secure the funding of Lopez Obrador’s key programs for years to come, or maybe to make sure that his promise of “no new taxes” is kept later on.
What we know for certain is that Lopez Obrador’s tactics are the kind preferred by those fearing accountability and scrutiny. By those who do not have the backing of the public, or for that matter, their own allies.