Interior Secretary Adán Augusto López Hernández. Photo: gob.mx/segob

By MARK LORENZANA

The Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) does not have the power to invalidate Justice Yasmín Esquivel’s undergraduate degree despite her act of alleged plagiarism, according to Interior (SeGob) Secretary Adán Augusto López Hernández.

López Hernández, speaking at Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) daily press conference on the morning of Monday, Jan. 16, said they will send a formal response to the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), signed by the SEP, addressed to the university council, university court and rector of the UNAM.

“We will ask them not to evade responsibility, but rather to issue a resolution,” López Hernández said.

According to López Hernández, on Thursday, Jan. 12., SEP head Leticia Ramírez received an official letter signed by UNAM rector Enrique Graue Wiechers, which contained two annexes. The first contained the minutes of a meeting among the members of UNAM’s Faculty of Higher Studies (FES), which states that Esquivel’s 1987 undergraduate thesis is “a substantial copy” of the original presented by Edgar Ulises Báez a year earlier.

The second annex contained the opinion of UNAM’s lawyer, who said he believes that no university authority is empowered to issue a resolution on the case. The lawyer suggested that Ramírez and the SEP be the ones to invalidate Esquivel’s degree.

“The university regulations lack the mechanisms to invalidate a degree issued by the National University, even when the plagiarism of a thesis is documented,” the UNAM said in an official statement.

However, according to Roberto Lara Chagoyán, a research professor at the Tecnológico de Monterrey University, in an interview with Mexican financial daily El Financiero, UNAM was wrong in saying that the university “lacks the mechanisms to invalidate a degree that it issued.”

“The UNAM can grant a title and it can also take it away, but not a professional license … the SEP is the only one that issues professional licenses,” Lara Chagoyán said.

Meanwhile, immediately after López Hernández’s report, López Obrador denied meeting Esquivel and her husband, José María Riobóo, on Monday. AMLO said the rumor was being circulated by the opposition and the media.

“There is a campaign by my opponents, not only in this case. It is evident that the conservative bloc, the corrupt, those who looted the country and want to return for their real estate, have a media campaign. They have the support of the media, to attack us in any situation,” López Obrador said. “I have not met with Yasmín or with her husband, the engineer Riobóo, who is a great engineer, a professional. One of the most important structural engineers in the country.”

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