Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Photo: presidencia.gob.mx

By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS

During his daily bully pulpit spiel on Monday, April 19, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) was asked by one of his faithful followers whether he considered the proposed extension of Supreme Court Chief Justice Arturo Zaldívar’s term of office a potential violation of the Mexican Constitution.

Not surprisingly, AMLO, who “suggested” (read, “mandated”) the extension in the first place, said it was not.

“The extension of Zalvidar’s term is clearly constitutional,” the president said, offering no facts or legal precedence to justify the action.

“But, of course, that will be decided by the Chamber of Deputies (which, coincidentally, is, like the Senate that has already approved the extension, dominated by members of AMLO’s leftist National Regeneration Movement, or Morena).”

AMLO, who is close friends with Zaldivar and who appointed him to the post in January 2019, went on to say, “I already expressed my opinion, which is that the presiding justice is a man of integrity, honest and that he would help a lot in the renewal of the judiciary because he promotes the reform of the judiciary.”

In other words, Zaldivar is a devoted yes man who does as AMLO bids.

“For anti-corruption and anti-nepotism laws are to be put in practice, the current chief justice of the Supreme Court will need to continue for two more years because that will guarantee that changes that will be made,” AMLO said, apparently missing the irony of his own nepotism in promoting Zalvidar’s extended term.

“Reform is fundamental. There cannot be judges or magistrates at the service of groups with vested interests. As long as (Zalvidar’s term extension) does not violate the letter or spirit of the constitution (it does), and if this is how the Chamber of Deputies decides to vote (they will), I totally agree because we are not going to be presented with an opportunity like this again.”

The opportunity AMLO was referring to is his administration’s efforts to stack the court in his favor so he can ram through any new laws or constitutional violations he cares to impose, such as his already-illegal electricity reform, the construction of a Tren Maya tourist train that will devastate fragile ecosystems in the Yucatan, and the proposed expropriation of private-sector energy interests.

Asked by a reporter is Zalvidar’s extended posting would potential jeopardize the separation of powers, AMLO said no, because, according to him, he does “not meddle in matters that have to do with other powers.” (There are definitely judges, such as those who ordered the closing of the aforementioned Tren Maya project and the suspension of AMLO’s electricity reform — both of which are still very much proceeding full speed ahead — who would beg to differ with the president on that point.) 

And as for the constitution, well, when you are constantly rewriting to suit your political whims, it really isn´t an obstacle, is it?

…April 20, 2021 

 

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