Tamaulipas Governor Javier García Cabeza de Vaca. Photo: El Siglo de Torreón

By KELIN DILLON

Mexico’s Attorney General (FGR) on Tuesday, Feb. 23, accused current Tamaulipas Governor Francisco Javier García Cabeza de Vaca of committing a number of crimes, including collaborating with organized gangs and tax fraud, creating outrage among the leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) opposition, and raising questions about just how far President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) Morena will go to keep (and consolidate) control of the nation.

The accusations against the conservative National Action Party (PAN) governor come partially from complaints filed last August by former Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) Director Emilio Lozoya, who accused more than 17 government officials, including former Mexican Presidents Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto, of accepting millions of pesos to approve Mexico’s 2013 Energy Reform. Loyoza claimed he was personally responsible for handing out over 500 million pesos worth of bribes.

Cabeza de Vaca, according to the Morena-led Chamber of Deputies, had allegedly received more than 951 million pesos in bribes. Morena leadership allege that, since the beginning of the investigation against the governor, over 42 million pesos were given to a front company that has no employees or tax returns, and was used for what they claim for the money laundering of money from organized crime.

The accusations have been vehemently denied by Cabeza de Vaca, who said that the allegations levied against him were for electoral purposes, calling them a “political onslaught orchestrated” against him by Morena.

“Again, the factual use of justice where there is no crime,” said Cabeza de Vaca in his response on Twitter. “I have never broken the law. I will defend myself against any abuse.”

Senators from the PAN also came to Cabeza de Vaca’s defense, citing electoral interference by Morena, mentioning how the accusations’ “time has a clear electoral intention,” with Mexico’s midterm elections coming up this June.

“The (Morena) regime punishes opponents. but provides impunity to its own,” said a group of PAN senators on Twitter.

 The senators claimed that Morena was using its majority in the Chamber of Deputies to discredit political opponents as the elections approach, also citing the charges as a way to distract from the Superior Audit of the Federation’s (ASF) “scandalous” discrepancies in their audits, such as the backtracking on the cost of the cancelled New Mexico International Airport (NAIM) earlier this week.

Going after opposition governors is only the tip of the iceberg in AMLO’s quest for control of Mexico, facing issues with the National Electoral Institute (INE) over his own electoral interference following repeated vocal and unfounded outbursts during his daily morning press conferences against opposition parties and anyone who dares to speak against him. 

López Obrador, upset at perceived “censorship,” despite the INE following the constitution in its warning against him, had the Morena-packed courts strike down the warning against him, allowing him to continue his public display of disdain for the opposition, broadcast to the entire country, for the entirety of the electoral process, expanding his influence.

AMLO likewise did not appreciate the perceived attack on his free speech, and has proposed absorbing all independent organizations into the Mexican government, including the Institute for Access to Public Information and Data Protection (INAI),  giving the government full unbridled control, with no checks and balances.

“The INAI is not part of the executive power, it is a guarantor of human rights,” said the INAI in a statement released on Feb. 24, reiterating the importance of its independence from the government.

“For this reason, it is important that this institution maintain its commitment to the people, with the autonomy that the Mexican Constitution gives it, and that it take part, like other institutions, in guaranteeing democratic life of Mexico.”

AMLO has also blatantly strong-armed his Morena deputies into passing legislation he favors, recently telling the Chamber of Deputies to pass his proposed electric reform, which would favor state-owned companies over private enterprises, “without even changing a comma.”

As election day approaches closer and closer, López Obrador seems to believe that his word is law, targeting anyone who doesn’t support him as a focus of discretization, from independent organizations that are supposed to check the executive power, to governors from opposing parties who could block out his own Morena candidates from winning a seat.

Opponents of AMLO be warned — it seems not being in the president’s pocket can now take away your government seat, and instead, land you a seat in jail.

…Feb. 25, 2021

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