By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
So much for multipartisanship in Mexico’s Congress.
Despite promises from Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party to “hear out and consider” objections regarding certain clauses within the president’s proposed Federal Expenditure Budget (PEF) for 2022, the 7.88 trillion-peso bill passed the Chamber of Deputies on Sunday, Nov. 14, with “not even a comma changed,” just as AMLO had ordained.
Following four days of open debate, the opposition parties’ 1,994 “reservations” were rejected outright by the ruling Morena deputies and their allies, the Green Party and Labor Party, with 273 votes in favor and 214 against.
Angered by the decision to ignore their concerns, members of the opposition bloc of Va por México — made up of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), centralist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and left-leaning Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) — left the San Lázaro congressional hall before the vote on the budget and immediately announced that the president’s controversial electricity reform, due to be voted on early next year, was “dead in the water.”
PAN Vice Coordinator Jorge Triana, flanked by other deputies from the PAN, PRI and PRD, said that the parties had been “willing and open to dialogue” with Morena to reach a mutually acceptable budget.
But, Triana said, the Morena deputies simply refused to consider their points of view regarding the PEF.
“When the president comes to ask you to account for his proposed energy reform, you can tell him that it is dead,” Triana said.
“Take note of today’s date, Nov. 14, 2021, because this is the day that the Morena party’s stupidity killed the president’s electricity reform.”
Because the electricity reform would constitute a change to the Mexican Constitution, its passage would require a two-thirds majority, which Morena and its allies do not currently possess.
The new PEF provides for a total expenditure of 7.88 trillion pesos in 2022, up 8. 6 percent from the 2021 budget, with nearly 5 billion pesos less for the National Electoral Institute (INE), which has tried repeatedly to rein in AMLO’s blatant constitutional and legal abuses.
Among the expenditures proposed by the opposition parties and denied by Morena were an 8.5 billion-peso rural development program and a nominal budget to help save Mexico’s endangered indigenous vaquita porpoise from extinction.
Also denied by Morena were opposition proposals to provide public transport for Mexicans with disabilities and to establish a public defender’s office for women.
The approved budget does provide for a massive “discretionary” budget for both the military and the president to use as he pleases, thus concentrating even more power in his office.
In response to the vote, AMLO, who celebrated his birthday one day earlier, said he was pleased with the gift of his budget and “could now sleep soundly with a clear conscience.” (One has to wonder what it would take to stir his conscience to a feeling of guilt, especially considering how many children with cancer and other sick Mexicans have died or are going to bed each night without much-needed medications due to his mishandling of the public health sector.)
So because of being able to dictate his mandates to an all-obedient, non-questioning herd of Morena epigones, AMLO can sleep soundly at night.
Yes, so much for multipartisanship in Mexico … and, sadly, democracy.