By KELIN DILLON
Just four days before Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) rally in commemoration of Mexico’s 85th Oil Expropriation anniversary is set to hit the streets on March 18, the López Obrador administration has remained decidedly coy surrounding the true cost of the Mexico City march held in celebration of AMLO’s four years in office this past Nov. 26.
According to the López Obrador administration, last November’s rally cost nothing of financial value; however, given the sound system, stage and screens used in the event, not to mention the large quantity of fences and chairs implemented for the audience, an appeal was submitted to Mexico’s National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI) to ascertain the actual cost of the November march.
While the INAI instructed the Office of the Presidency of the Republic to carry out an investigation into the march’s cost and report it back to the appeal’s petitioner, the Presidency of the Republic reported on Jan. 13 that after an “exhaustive search,” the General Directorate of Finance and Budget had failed to find any documented evidence about the financial cost of the march.
“After an exhaustive search of the records, physical and electronic files that work in said area address attached to the General Directorate of Material Resources and General Services, it’s reported that it did not locate a legal instrument or documentary evidence related to the information requested that meets the appeal of the interested party in the terms indicated,” said the Presidency of the Republic on Jan. 13.
Another appeal was then filed and admitted by the INAI in response to the Presidency of the Republic’s lackadaisical findings, to which the federal executive’s office responded by saying it has none of the information requested on file, and therefore has no obligation to deliver requested documentation that it claims it does not possess.
However, while the INAI then determined that while a search may have been carried out by the Presidency of the Republic’s General Coordination of Social Communication, Spokesperson of the Government of the Republic and the General Directorate of Finance and Budget, the INAI went on to find that the Presidency of the Republic “failed to manage the request for treatment in the Technical Secretariat of the Cabinet, and the General Directorate of Material Resources and General Services, units that also have jurisdiction to pronounce on the request.”
After ascertaining the Presidency of the Republic’s official involvement in the November march through announcements of the rally on the presidency’s site and videos posted from the event, the INAI instructed the Office of the Presidency of the Republic to conduct a new, exhaustive and comprehensive search “in order to grant the request’s access to documentary evidence that contains the cost allocated for the march.”
“In the event that the requested information is not located, its nonexistence must be formally declared through its Transparency Committee, specifying in a timely manner the circumstances of time, manner and place that generated the nonexistence in question,” added the INAI.
The INAI gave the Office of the Presidency of the Republic 10 business days from Feb. 22 to complete the new, exhaustive search; however, the government office requested an additional 10 business days for its findings on March 3, pushing the anticipated conclusion of the November rally cost saga to right before AMLO’s Oil Expropriation march.