AMLO Defends Panama Envoy Appointment amid Allegations
By KELIN DILLON
After controversy arose following Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) appointment of former National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) professor Pedro Salmerón Sanginés, who has been accused of sexual harassment, as the Mexican ambassador to Panama on Jan. 17, López Obrador has since doubled down on his choice, saying he would wait for “evidence to be presented” against Salmerón during his daily morning press conference on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
Salmerón is alleged to have sexually harassed women during his tenure at UNAM, with some of the purported victims identifying with AMLO’s National Regeneration Movement (Morena) and so-called Fourth Transformation (4T) against corruption, with similar accusations of sexual assault brought against him during his time at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM).
“As far as I understand, there is no formal and legal complaint against Salmerón,” said AMLO during the press conference, despite the revelation of his own party members as some of the professor’s alleged victims. “We have to wait for evidence to be presented.”
However, one such victim and former vocal Morenista Estefanía Veloz filed a complaint within the Morena party against Salmerón in 2017, in which she claimed the professor was protected by “his important friends.”
Still, AMLO continued his support of Salmerón, calling him “a first-rate historian” and “a very educated person” during Tuesday’s conference, despite major protests forming outside the National Palace among students and feminist groups under the slogan “a stalker will not be an ambassador.”
While the appointment falls under the jurisdiction of the Secretariat of Foreign Relations (SRE), sector head Marcelo Ebrard has failed to release a public statement on the matter as of yet.
Meanwhile, the SRE similarly appointed a member of the Morena-opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and former Sonora Governor Claudia Pavlovich as the head of the Mexican consulate in Barcelona, standing in stark contrast to AMLO’s usual modus operandi of appointing Morena-affiliated officials to high-ranking posts.