U.S. Senator Bob Melendez from New Jersey, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Photo: Google


Four members of the U.S. Senate, led by Bob Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday, April 6,stating that there is mounting evidence that Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is attacking the independence of the country’s judiciary and selectively targeting the persecution of his political opponents.

The letter — which was also signed by Patrick Leahy of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Benjamin Cardin of Maryland and Jeffrey Merkley of Oregon, all Democrats — called on the administration of President Joe Biden to “raise their concerns” directly Mexico’s Congress.

“López Obrador’s tenure has been marked by an increasing pattern of seemingly selective prosecutions disproportionately targeting government critics,” the letter said.

“López Obrador’s efforts to advance legitimate accountability initiatives must strengthen, not dismantle, democratic institutions and the rule of law.”

The letter — which López Obrador responded to angrily on Thursday, April 7, during his daily press conference, calling the signatories “liars” and “misinformed” — outlined a list of several actions taken by the president and Mexican Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero, a close AMLO ally, which the senators considered to be “personal vendettas.”

Among those actions were the demand by Mexico for the United States to return detained former Mexican Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos in late 2020 on promises that he would be tried for his alleged crimes, only to release him and drop all charges against him a month later.

The letter also criticized López Obrador for publicly attacking a judge who had ruled against his energy policies, trying to impose a term extension of Supreme Court Justice Arturo Zaldívar in strict violation of the Mexican Constitution, and calling for the resignation of Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE), which was established in 1990 to ensure clean elections as the country transitioned to a more democratic process.

By the same token, the letter expressed the senators’ concerns about criminal charges that were filed against former presidential candidate Ricardo Anaya, from the conservative National Action Party (PAN), who AMLO considers a threat to his mounting unilateral power, for alleged corruption.

The letter likewise made reference to Gertz Manero’s failure to investigate those close to the president, including his son and brothers, despite solid evidence of potential corruption and other crimes, while doggedly prosecuting his own in-laws on trumped up charges (that were finally dropped by the Supreme Court last month) and 31 scientists who revealed that Gertz Manero had plagiarized his professional thesis.

“We urge you to give serious consideration to the risk of a weakened, politicized justice system in Mexico,” the letter said.

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