By KELIN DILLON
According to new information revealed by Mexico’s Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE), Mexican Senators Raúl Paz Alonzo, Geovanna Bañuelos and Sasil de León were informed ahead of time that they did not have the proper accreditation to attend the United Nations’ (UN) COP27 climate summit in Egypt this past November, yet they still knowingly utilized hundreds of thousands of pesos worth of public resources – money that was only allocated for those participating in the summit – to travel to Egypt for unofficial tourism purposes.
Both Senate and SRE data indicate that Paz Alonzo, Bañuelos and de León – who belong to the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), Labor Party (PT) and Social Encounter Party (SE) respectively – were on Mexico’s list of eight senators set to attend the COP27 conference, though there was no record of the three senators having the right accreditation for the summit nor their actual participation in the meeting, which was held in Egypt’s resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh from Nov. 6 to 18.
“It was impossible for you to enter the Summit headquarters if you did not have your accreditation,” a source involved in the trip’s organization told daily Mexican newspaper Reforma.
Despite neither Paz Alonzo, Bañuelos or de León actually setting foot in the UN climate conference, the three senators still charged plane tickets and per diems amounting to approximately 160,000 pesos each to the Mexican treasury. Bañuelos and Paz Alonzo reportedly traveled to Egypt from Nov. 9 to 20, while De León’s visit to Egypt extended from Nov. 1 to 20.
Now, the disgraced trio’s actions are facing major backlash in the Mexican Senate as their colleagues demand the group return their travel allowances to the treasury, calling on the Internal Comptroller’s Office and the Superior Audit of the Federation to review their supposed misconduct surrounding the use of funds.
“I urge my fellow senators to give a convincing explanation and to show that they met their objective and that public resources were well applied,” said Movimiento Ciudadano (MC) Senator and Senate Anti-Corruption Commission President Juan Zepeda.
“Out of decency, they should return the per diem,” added Zepeda. “All the senators who leave must, upon their return, present their activity report. It would be necessary to see that these logs or reports meet the planned objectives when it was proposed that they represent the Senate at the summit.”
However, Bañuelos, De León and Paz Alonzo responded to the backlash by saying that the fault lies with the Senate Upper House Political Coordination Board, which they say failed to give the group the proper accreditation needed to attend.
“It is important to clarify that we were never notified by the Political Coordination Board that we were not duly accredited for this event,” said the senators in a statement to Reforma. “If so, said governing body would not have authorized the corresponding procedures and resources for our participation in this international delegation.”
With this in mind, documents from the SRE show that Bañuelos, De León and Paz Alonzo were allegedly all aware that they did not have the proper accreditation to attend the COP27 conference ahead of time, yet still chose to travel to Egypt regardless.