By KELIN DILLON
In a presidential decree published in Mexico’s Official Gazette of the Federation on Monday, Nov. 22, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) determined all projects and works sanctioned by the nation’s government a matter of national security, drawing widespread criticism toward López Obrador’s continued prioritization of his favored pet projects and subsequent dwindling transparency to the public, with the decree being officially enacted that very same day.
The decree applies to all of Mexico’s communication infrastructure, telecommunications, customs and border processes, as well as its tourism, hydraulics, water, environment, health, energy, naval ports, airports and railways, marking all of the aforementioned sectors as areas of national security.
“The order of the president is to classify all infrastructure projects like railroads, airports or energy as matters of national security,” said Reforma columnist F. Bartolomé.
“That means blocking access to information that should be public. Now, a citizen wants to know information as simple as supplier contracts for the Tren Maya, the Santa Lucía Airport or the Dos Bocas refinery, it will be the equivalent of requesting the architectural plans of the maximum security prison in Almoloya.”
Likewise, the initiative will grant the Federal Public Administration full provisional authorization for licensing and permits ahead for its choice projects, potentially providing undue prioritization for AMLO’s projects and allowing them to begin work if Mexico’s legislative body does not approve of its respective application within five business days.
In response, Mexico’s autonomous body the National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Data Protection (INAI) is set to protest the presidential decree to the country´s Supreme Court (SCJN), claiming it violates Article 6 of the Mexican Constitution by preventing the public’s right to information.
Members of the nation’s Va Por México alliance, which vocally opposes AMLO’s own party the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), also spoke out against the decree, declaring the coalition’s intentions to likewise file a complaint against its constitutionality with the SCJN.
“We strongly condemn this attack on the right of all Mexicans to have access to public information and we are going to fight it legally,” said Va Por México member and National Action Party (PAN) coordinator Jorge Romero Herrera.
For his part, López Obrador claimed the move was not to create opacity with government works, but instead to ensure their conclusion ahead of the end of his six-year term in 2024.
With a 30-day window to dispute the controversial decree, opponents to AMLO’s brazen display of power are sure to flood the SCJN with rebuttals this upcoming month, putting López Obrador’s intentions and actions under the very same scrutiny he so wished to avoid with the initiative.