By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Mexican Foreign Relations (SRE) Secretary Marcelo Ebrard didn’t mince words when he verbally slammed the secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, on Friday, June 4, just two days prior to the country’s midterm elections.
During a morning press conference, Ebrard was asked to explain what role the OAS would play in monitoring the elections, which were the largest in Mexico’s history.
Not one for niceties (a rather dubious quality in a country’s chief diplomat), Ebrard curtly responded that the OAS had been granted permission to send observers, but would not get involved in Mexico’s electoral process.
And the matter could have ended there, but Marcelo decided to add on a tagline aimed at personally insulting Almagro.
“The performance of the current OAS secretary-general, Mr. Almagro, has been one of the worst in history,” Ebrard said.
“He has acted, repeatedly, without consulting the member states … He acts as if he were autonomous.”
And so first blood was drawn.
Ebrard went on to lambast the head of the Washington-based organization for the OAS’s role in Bolivia’s 2019 elections, in which then-president Evo Morales resigned under public pressure following the OAS report saying that the vote was rigged.
Apparently on a roll, Ebrard then proceeded to accuse Almagro of “political mismanagement” and “practically fostering a coup” in Bolivia, while cautioning the Uruguayan-born diplomat and statesman to “respect Mexican law.”
It didn’t take long for Almagro to return in kind, albeit with a much more subtle and witty comeback.
In an interview with Colombian news channel NTN24, the OAS director general was cordial and to the point: “Speaking of mismanagement, it’s a rare occurrence,” he said.
“And since I am a good person, I wish (Ebrard) well and hope that no more of the structures he built as mayor of Mexico City collapse.”
This clear reference to Ebrard’s responsibility for the May 3 collapse of the capital’s Metro Line 12 (which left 26 people dead) was enough to shut up the SRE head, at least through Sunday’s electoral process.
The overhead Line 12 was built during Ebrard’s stint as Mexico City mayor from 2006 to 2012, and there are still serious questions as to alleged misappropriations of funding for the project.
After his term as mayor, Ebrard conveniently entered into self-imposed exile in Europe, following the old adage of “out of sight, out of mind” and hoping the whole Line 12 spending scandal would blow over.
To a large extend, that strategy worked and when Ebrard returned to the Mexican political scene as SRE head with the Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) administration, he immediately began grooming himself to be the premiere presidential candidate for the 2026 elections.
Notwithstanding, the collapse of the Line 12 overpass not only reminded the Mexican people of his dubious financial management of the line, but also to again question how the money for it was spent.
Almagro’s verbal dig only helped to keep the incident of the crash in the Mexican public’s mind.
So now it seems that Ebrard needs to learn another maxim: People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.