By RICARDO CASTILLO
It’s been five full weeks since Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) won the Mexican presidential election. You’d think that he would be immediately recognized for his victory, at least with the moniker of “president-elect,” but in the national press, the moniker has instead been “virtual president-elect.”
But as of Wednesday, Aug. 8, this situation will change. The Federal Electoral Tribunal announced last Friday that AMLO will get his – shall we call it diploma – official recognition document. It took this long, the tribunal explained, because it was processing all of the impugnations questioning the validity of the July 1 election. Ironically, the majority of these challenges were filed by AMLO’s faithful ally, the Social Encounter Party (PES), which posted him as its candidate because it did not win the needed 3 percent to remain as a registered political organization. The PES is out, but still it wields a significant number of deputies and senators.
In any case, once AMLO gets his graduation diploma on Wednesday, he will immediately be legally authorized to formally start the transition process in dealing with different government institutions.
Also, AMLO’s designated work team (composed of Alfonso Romo, Tatiana Clouthier, Carlos Urzúa, Olga Sánchez Cordero, Julio Scherer, Marcelo Ebrard and Elías Miguel Moreno, among others) will be able to start immediate contacts with the heads of different secretariats, kicking off a four-month period of investigative reporting by the incoming administration team on what they will be receiving from the now-battered and much-beleaguered President Enrique Peña Nieto administration.
For starters, there will be an in-depth audit of the Treasury Secretariat (Hacienda), which suspiciously began defending the honorability of its handling of tax monies and promising to deliver “crisp and clear accounting.” The suspicion arises from the belief that Hacienda will receive “special attention” since there’s a general belief in Mexico that it is boasting “a black hole” in terms of money.
Another secretariat that is under suspicion – in fact, badly mouthed constantly by pundits who believe that it is the epitome of corruption – is the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation. Secretary Gerardo Ruíz Esparza (nicknamed “Ruin”) pocketed commissions galore during the current administration’s term, awarding juicy transportation infrastructure construction contracts to “bid winning” companies.
Two even bigger bottomless corruption pits are the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) – which generates the nation’s electricity – and Mexico’s state-run oil giant Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), both of which have already hit the panic buttons because they are seeping in slime – or at least everyone suspects that.
Another transition secretariat that’s grabbing attention is the Interior Secretariat (SeGob), which is slated to be somewhat dismantled under AMLO. In fact, last week, even without still having official authority, AMLO sent sitting President Enrique Peña Nieto a document asking him to order the current Congress to introduce a “preferential bill” to give structure to the new Federal Public Security Secretariat so that it will be ready to kick off activities on Dec. 1, when AMLO will be invested with the presidency.
The secretariat has been part of SeGob during the Peña Nieto administration and was run for the most part by former (now senator-to-be) Interior Secretary Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, whose fight against crime has been considered a total failure, especially last week, when U.S. President Donald Trump issued a tweet demanding money to build the wall in order to protect his nation from the booming crime figures in Mexico, which soared during the Peña Nieto administration.
Peña Nieto has of yet not answered AMLO’s request. Some observers even consider it “a humiliation” given the thrashing AMLO gave Peña Nieto and his candidate José Antonio Meade at the polls in July. But we’ll see if the president just stays mum or actually answers his designated successor’s request.
By the way, and this is part of the same current political mishmash, AMLO hosted Meade for breakfast at his private home last week in a meeting as a recognition of what AMLO called a “noblesse obliges” motion because Meade was gracious enough to concede to AMLO only 10 minutes after the polls closed on July 1 (a noteworthy breakfast, since AMLO never conceded defeat either to Felipe “the spurious president” Calderón in 2006 nor to Peña Nieto on 2012).
On a separate, front but very much related to AMLO’s transition period activities, is the beginning on Aug. 7 in Ciudad Juárez of the open town meetings called Listen Forums (Foros Escucha), which will mark the public consultation to identify proposals to “formulate public policies for the nation’s pacification and national reconciliation.”
These forums are indeed in keeping with one of AMLO’s campaign promises, to hold public consultations to find ways to contain organized criminal gangs and to learn how the Mexican people think – particularly in gang cities like Ciudad Juárez. The government should deal with them through the proposed Federal Public Security Secretariat.
But whatever has happened up until now will soon be a thing of the past since on Wednesday AMLO can begin to enjoy his political milk and honey.
Incidentally, if there’s any mention of President Peña Nieto’s activities in the Mexican media during this period, it is because he was on summer vacation last week and because he now seems to feel comfy playing the lame duck role.
Pass the buck!