Morena chairman defends referendum on trying Mexican ex-presidents for graft

By Eduard Ribas i Admetlla

Mexico City, Jul 15 (EFE).- An Aug. 1 plebiscite on whether Mexican ex-presidents can be put on trial for corruption and other crimes is necessary to install “an authentic democracy” in Mexico, the chairman of the ruling National Regeneration Movement (Morena) told Efe in an interview on Thursday.

“It’s about responding to the historical demand for ending impunity. And what better way than to try former presidents who did what they did in their time, betrayed the trust of the people, looted the national coffers and violated human rights on a massive scale?” Mario Delgado said at his party’s headquarters.

Mexicans will go to the polls in two weeks to participate in a plebiscite requested by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, scheduled by the Senate and deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court.

They will decide then whether ex-heads of state from what AMLO calls the “neoliberal period” can be investigated and put on trial.

Although the high court reworked the text of the referendum and deleted their names, the question put to voters pertains to the five men who served single six-year terms between 1988 and 2018: Carlos Salinas, Ernesto Zedillo, Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderon and Enrique Peña Nieto.

With the language change, the question to be put to voters is the following: “Do you agree or not that the relevant authorities should, in accordance with the constitution and legal framework, undertake a process of clearing up political decisions taken in previous years by politicians, with an aim to guaranteeing justice and the rights of possible victims?”

In the interview, Delgado responded to critics who say a plebiscite is not necessary to prosecute and punish crimes.

“It’s not about a legal process. This is a political process where the people can go and demand justice. It’s a full exercise in this transition to an authentic democracy.”

Although Lopez Obrador pushed for the referendum, he has said in the past that he has no interest in retaliating against his predecessors.

“He’s the head of state. He can take a position in that respect … We’re encouraging citizen participation” and a “yes” vote in the plebiscite, Delgado said.

Under Mexico’s constitution, a participation level of 40 percent of all registered voters is needed for a binding result. Asked what the ruling party will do if the “no” vote wins out, the Morena chairman responded that the people’s will “is sovereign.”

Separately, Delgado was asked about the Morena party’s post-AMLO future, especially in light of Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard’s announcement Tuesday that he intends to be Morena’s presidential candidate in 2024 and calls for Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum to throw her hat in the ring.

“My role is to be absolutely impartial and guarantee there’s an even balance for everyone and that people can decide (which candidate they want),” Delgado, a close ally of Ebrard’s, said.

In mid-term elections on June 6, Morena and its allies won 12 of the 15 governors’ races and retained their majority in the lower house of Congress.

But the Morena-led Juntos Hacemos Historia left-wing coalition fell short of a two-thirds super-majority needed to approve constitutional reforms, including a plan to reassert state control over Mexico’s energy sector. EFE


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