By KELIN DILLON
A referendum held by popular vote will take place in Mexico on Aug. 1, said Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), with the public deciding on whether or not the country should prosecute its former heads of state for alleged criminal activity.
“I take this opportunity to invite people to participate in this referendum,” said AMLO during his daily press conference on Tuesday, June 22.
“It is a question that can be translated in a simple way: ‘Do you want to investigate and to confirm that former Presidents Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Ernesto Zedillo, Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto should be tried?’ Yes or no.”
López Obrador said Salinas should be prosecuted for allegedly “funneling Mexico’s assets to his relatives,” Fox for supposedly deceiving the public and being a “traitor to democracy,” Calderón for what AMLO called “turning Mexico into a cemetery,” and Peña Nieto for alleged acts of corruption.
López Obrador alleged that the culmination of all these presidential acts as setting back Mexico’s development by more than 30 years.
“We are going to seek a transformation that ends corruption, with no repression, in which the poor are properly served,” said AMLO. “So that’s what people are going to be asked is ‘Do you want them to be judged, or do we turn the page and move ahead.’”
Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE) has already approved more than 378,000 promotional spots to bring public attention to the referendum and encourage informed discussion, all to be aired between July 15 and Aug. 1.
López Obrador, a long time critic of the INE, likewise announced that he would be using his own daily press conferences to promote the Aug.1 referendum.
Notwithstanding, many critics have called the proposed referendum a public witch hunt and an exercise in “trial by referendum,” pointing out that the legal process of bringing criminal charges against an individual should be decided by the courts based on evidence and not by a public vote.