By RICARDO CASTILLO
The demise of two top judges during the early half of October is rattling the Mexican juridical system. In both cases, the previously unmentionable word “corruption” is being tossed around.
There are opinion writers around Mexico who claim that their demise was the product of “suspicious” as well as “dictatorial” movements by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO.)
The first justice, Supreme Court Judge Eduardo Medina Mora, presented his resignation at the start of the month, which the Senate later approved. His seat is now vacant. Medina Mora is being investigated for the transfer abroad – the United States and Britain, where he served as ambassador – of $103 million pesos over the past three years.
The second judiciary in question is Circuit Judge Jorge Arturo Camero Ocampo, who was suspended from duties by Supreme Court of Justice President Arturo Zaldivar after unusual movements were detected in his bank accounts. Camero Ocampo was being investigated for the purchase of a 17.8 million-peso home in the plush southern Mexico City neighborhood Pedregal de San Ángel, which he registered under a son’s name. The investigation was based on grounds that Camero Ocampo does not make sufficient wages as a federal official to be able to pay – cash – for this type of property.
But the drop that overflowed the glass was an 80 million-peso deposit made by anonymous sources in one of the judge’s banking accounts. Also, now former judge Camero Ocampo had voted against the construction of President AMLO’s pet project, a new commercial airport at Santa Lucía, north of Mexico City.
This alone has sparked a barrage of attacks among vocal AMLO-haters, who feel that in Camero Ocampo’s case, AMLO was acting suspiciously because the judge had voted against the airport construction project.
On Friday, Oct. 11, AMLO, in his daily press conference at the National Palace, denied having had anything to do in either cases. AMLO also said that, in the Camero Ocampo case, the judge was suspended by Zaldivar “because he received an 80 million-peso deposit.” The evidence is at hand, he added.
“Nobody may be put through a trial without evidence,” AMLO said, adding that the accused will be subjected to the “corresponding judicial process, but it also is an unheard of case” for a judge go on trial for corruption.
“In the case of the judicial branch, there was lots of secrecy,” López Obrador said. “It was like the case of the Castle of Purity. These cases now come up, and I celebrate them, and, of course, this is creating controversy, but it is good that this matter be processed.”
Note: The Castle of Purity refers to a 1950’s case of a father who locked up his family to prevent their contact with outside society to keep his wife and two children pure. Instead, they committed incest and many more “impurities.” The case was made into a movie in the 1970s.
AMLO assured journalists that there had been no intervention o his part in the firing of Camero Ocampo and said that the people calling the move “suspicious” should not pretend create a situation that isn’t there because “impunity is over in Mexico, even for the president of the republic, who will also be brought to trial if caught committing corrupt actions.”
The investigation on Camero Ocampo had been going for a while and carried out by the watchdog Federal Juridical Council (CFJ) as it detected numerous deposits in his accounts and credit cards – including the house purchase – “which do not correspond to his income,” including the proven 80 million-peso deposit.
A final observation is that during his electoral campaign AMLO on many occasions promised that in the case of the Mexican judicial system, he was going “to sweep it the way stairs are swept, from the top down.” Now, the cases of Medina Mora and Camero Ocampo echo the fact that he is keeping another one of his promises.
There is no question about it, nor was it ever a secret, that Mexican courts and public ministries (which try criminal cases at prisons) are full of corrupt judges willing to sell their souls to the highest bidder.
If the downfall of the two abovementioned judges is a hint of things to come in the Mexican judicial system, then judges had better start trembling as the trash flows down the stairs.