By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
While Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) continues to dole out high-ranking (and high-paying) government jobs to luggage porters and entourage traffic managers with little or no academic or professional qualifications (other than their undying loyalty to him), on Monday, June 22, he ousted one of his “most-uncompromising” (his words) proselytes from her office as head of the Public Function Secretariat (SFP), the agency in charge of curbing corruption.
Irma Eréndira Sandoval, a ruling party National Regeneration Movement (Morena) devotee, was abruptly relieved of her duties by the president without the customary political courtesy of him saying that she had resigned or would be moving on to a different post.
In what seems to be an open acknowledgement by AMLO that his much-touted anti-corruption platform is dead in the water — Mexico has dropped three notches on the Berlin-based Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPR) and currently only ranks above Paraguay, Guatemala, Bolivia and Venezuela on the Americas Society’s corruption chart — López Obrador removed Sandoval and replaced her with accountant Roberto Salcedo Aquino.
It is no secret that, in the last two and a half years under the AMLO administration, Mexico has earned the dubious distinction of ranking 37th among the 37 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to Transparency International, placing it in the same category as the likes of Pakistan and Kenya.
But for all the accusations of corruption levied by the president against his predecessors, opponents and the media, the SFP, during Sandoval’s watch, rendered little tangible evidence against any of AMLO’s foes, other than its disqualifying former Foreign Relations Secretary and former Finance Secretary Luis Videgaray from holding office for 10 years, while blatantly ignoring Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) and AMLO buddy Manuel Bartlett’s alleged attempt to defraud the government by selling it inoperable and over-priced ventilators at the height of the covid-19 pandemic, or his more than 23 luxury homes and 12 corporations that he somehow “forgot” to declare before the Treasury Secretariat.
During her entire tenure, Sandoval focused on sanctioning officials from past administrations, most of whom she punished for inconsistencies in asset declarations and not for cases of corruption.
Oh, and speaking of corruption, it turns out that, according to a study conducted by the private-sector organization Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI) and released on Monday, June 21, last year the SFP spent more than a million pesos to purchase rapid covid-19 tests for a company with no employees.
So much for fighting corruption in Mexico.