Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Photo: Facebook

By KELIN DILLON

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) said during his daily press conference on Friday, Jan. 8, that independent organizations in Mexico have not been fulfilling their functions properly and must be reformed.

AMLO proposed that all autonomous organizations be absorbed by the Mexican government to “make sure they execute their roles to the fullest extent.”

These organizations were created in the neoliberal period to pretend that there was going to be transparent, that corruption was going to be fought,” AMLO said.

López Obrador said these organizations are simply “smoke screens” and that “they are useless, they do not benefit the people and it costs a lot to maintain them.”

“We are going to find a way to make public administration efficient and inexpensive,” he said.

By letting the state execute these tasks instead, a lot of money could be saved that could instead be funneled into social programs and covid-19 recovery plans, said AMLO, though he did not provide figures on exactly how much money might be recuperated.

“We want to save so that all government funds are used for the people and used for development, so we do not have to increase national debt, that we do not have to collect more taxes, and that we do not have to decree gasoline bumps,” he said. “How do we do it? Saving, acting efficiently in public administration.”

AMLO said a review of these independent organizations would be held in a cabinet meeting on Monday, Jan. 11. The meeting will determine whether the proposed reforms will take place under a single law or through multiple reforms.

Independent organizations are intended to serve as a system of checks and balances to the Mexican government, a function they would ironically not be able to fulfill properly if absorbed into the government.

It is not well understood by the president that presidential figures come and go, they do not last forever, but what does remain are the institutions,” said Jacqueline Peschard, former president of the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection (INAI), in an interview with Expansión Política. “So the onslaught of all those organizations is a very reduced and personalistic look ”

“Concentrating power and removing checks and balances, which are basic democratic principles of any democratic regime, cannot be justified for the sake of having popular support,” said Peschard. “The concentration of power leads to abuses.”

AMLO defended his motives behind the reforms, saying that “having transparency does not mean that there is a bureaucratic apparatus for this purpose.”

López Obrador has had a less-than-positive relationship with independent organizations throughout his presidency, having previously received a warning from the National Electoral Institute (INE) over alleged constitutional violations by the president during his press conferences. 

The warning was later struck down by courts controlled by AMLO’s own National Regeneration Movement (Morena), setting a precedent of López Obrador’s disregard for autonomous organization’s interference into his actions.

As the proposed reforms continue to evolve, the future of autonomous organizations in Mexico remains to be seen, though according to critics, the outlook is grim.

…Jan. 11, 2021

 

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