By KELIN DILLON
The Mexican Secretariat of National Defense’s (Sedena) Military Equipment Payment and Administration Trust (Fidape) has reportedly increased its budget by 967 percent since the beginning of current Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) administration in December 2018, according to figures released by the daily newspaper Reforma.
When the previous presidency ended, Fidape’s trust sat at just over 5 billion pesos; now, it has closed 2020 with a balance of over 48 billion pesos, making Fidape the third-largest trust in the entire federal government.
Even in the past reported fiscal quarter, from September to the end of the year, Fidape registered an increase of over 18 billion pesos, an jump of 61 percent from the previous quarter.
In the year 2020 alone, Sedena went over its designated budget by 33 percent, spending over 124 billion pesos, well over its appropriated budget of 94 billion pesos.
It’s unclear if the surplus budget was delivered directly into the trust, or transferred from Mexico’s Treasury Secretariat to the Secretariat of National Defense.
Sedena’s high spending level was only surpassed by the Secretariat of Welfare and the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) in the fiscal year of 2020.
Fidape was created by Sedena back in 2007, and does not subject to the scrutiny of the Mexican Congress, allowing Sedena to use the funds appropriated to the trust for whatever it may see fit, both in works and equipment.
Airplanes and helicopters are the most expensive of this equipment, which the current administration has no plans to acquire, leaving its extensive budget for whatever Sedena desires.
In the event that AMLO’s National Regeneration Movement (Morena) loses its congressional majority in the midterm elections upcoming in June 2021, which would allow opposition parties to refuse to approve funding for AMLO’s pet projects such as the Tren Maya, López Obrador could continue to fund these projects using the extensive budget the Fidape trust has built up, considering there’s essentially no limits at to what it can be used for.
López Obrador, who promised during the 2018 presidential elections that he would demilitarize public security, has come under scrutiny for his extension of Mexico’s military power, including the creation of the National Guard, which has even found its way into Mexico’s health sector through AMLO’s insertion of National Guard members into the country’s mass covid-19 vaccination program via his unwieldy “vaccine brigades” task force.
…Feb. 8, 2021