By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Who says that corruption and nepotistic malfeasance are not well and alive and flourishing in Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena) party? Certainly not anyone with an inkling of honest impartiality and nonpartisan fairness.
Just this Wednesday, Nov. 24, the daily newspaper Reforma pointed out that the government of Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum (who, by the way, in case you have been living under a rock, is AMLO’s disciple of choice to take his place at the presidential altar in 2024, that is, if he really keeps his promise and accepts a one-term mandate) had paid out a whopping 22.6 million pesos to a personal friend of the capital’s then-Tourisn Mixed Tourism Promotion Fund (FMPT) head Paola Félix Díaz, producer Alejandro Gou, for the organization of the Oct. 31 International Day Parade of the Dead.
It should be noted that Félix Díaz is no longer in that position, since she was forced to resign the post after it was exposed earlier this month that she had accepted a ride on a private jet to attend the now-notoriously controversial wedding of Mexico’s former Finance Secretariat’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) head Santiago Nieto Castillo in Guatemala.
But getting back to the parade contract, it was assigned directly by Félix Díaz to Gou’s company.
Félix Díaz and Gou have made no secret of their close friendship and even traveled together to the aforementioned wedding in that private plane, which was rented by the president of El Universal newspaper, Juan Francisco Ealy, who was briefly detained in Guatemala because the plane’s occupants were found carrying some $35,000 that were allegedly not declared when entering the Central American country.
Not-so-coincidentally, Félix Díaz justified the the untendered contact to her travel buddy by saying that “the company offered the best technical, economic and material conditions to carry out the parade,” which is hard to verify since it was never compared to any other offers, that being the meaning of untendered.
According to Reforma, the payment for Gou’s “services” was made in three installments by bank transfer, and the total payout figure was 19 percent higher than what was spent in 2018, when 19 million pesos were paid.
On Sept. 30, Sheinbaum dissolved the FMPT (it seems it was easier to be rid of the office than to try to explain its mismanagement) and passed on its responsibilities — including the parade — to the city’s Secretaries of Tourism and Culture.
But Reforma pointed out that neither of the two offices (existing or otherwise) ever bothered to provide a financial accounting of the money spent on the Oct. 31 death fest promenade.
After much prodding from the newspaper, the Sheinbaum administration on Tuesday, Nov. 23, finally came up with a vague 26-page document that did not include any specifications of the contracted goods and services.
But let it not go unnoticed that the Mexico City mayor is a diligent student of her political mentor, AMLO, who loves to proclaim himself as “different” from the country’s former leaders and who just Monday, Nov. 22, issued a presidential decree declaring all his administration’s projects to be “national security matters,” meaning that he and his government don’t have to render any financial accountability or submit to any legal objections to their constitutionality or massive expenditures.
So much for transparency in Mexico.