When a President Commends an Incitement to Violence
By KELIN DILLON
In what seemed to be an attempt to appease Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) and his intentions to arbitrarily reshape the Supreme Court Justice of the Nation (SCJN) after a perceived judicial slight, Veracruz Governor Cuitláhuac García Jiménez – a member of López Obrador’s in-power National Regeneration Movement (Morena) – held a rally protesting against the purported corruption of the SCJN ministers in Mexico City on Saturday, May 20, going so far as to have his companions carry a coffin bearing SCJN President Norma Piña’s likeness to the front of the SCJN courthouse steps.
García’s crusade specifically targeted eight of the 11 ministers currently serving on the SCJN, including Piña, Jorge Mario Pardo, Margarita Ríos, Luis González Alcántara, Alfredo Ortiz Mena, Alberto Pérez Dayán, Javier Laynez and Luis María Aguilar – that is, the eight ministers who dared to invalidate López Obrador’s controversial Plan B electoral reform over violations of the legislative process, apparently leaving the three other SCJN ministers who swung their Plan B vote in AMLO’s favor free from any corruption allegations.
The Veracruz governor used the opportunity to accuse the ministers in question of protecting criminals through their judicial decisions, such as in the release of Sinaloa Cartel drug trafficker Héctor “El Güero” Palma.
“Yesterday we confirmed that the judiciary has no remedy, after the president of the court, Norma Piña, with eight votes from these ministers, tried to put the future of large projects carried out by the president in a state of legal vulnerability,” said García at the rally, accusing the eight named ministers of being aligned with Mexico’s conservative groups and intentionally crippling AMLO’s so-called Fourth Transformation (4T).
Garcia went on to exacerbate allegations against Piña of intimidation, as first purported by Morena Senator Alejandro Armenta, while the supposed evidence of the threats made by Piña – unverified screenshots of WhatsApp messages – remains flimsy at best.
The governor then announced his intentions to exercise his right to request the impeachment of SCJN ministers, as well as encouraging the rally’s attendees to vote in favor of López Obrador’s Plan C to stack Mexico’s legislature with a qualified Morena majority, with the ultimate goal of using this majority to curb the highest court in the land and impeach the ministers who dared defy AMLO’s will.
“We are all going to unite, all of us, to carry out Plan C in 2024,” said Garcia. “Do you want the 4T to continue? Then you know who to vote for. Do you want to change the judiciary? Then you know who to vote for.”
While Garcia’s words at the rally may carry heavy implications, no action was quite as unsavory as the parade of the coffin bearing Piña’s likeness, which, alongside another coffin, supposedly signified “burying” the corruption of the court.
“Don’t leave, Norma Piña,” Eric Cisneros, secretary of the government of Veracruz, snidely remarked at the time.
Considering the current levels of violence in Veracruz, which has experienced 580 murders in the first five months of 2023 alone, the state leaders’ implied funeral for Piña and the SCJN ministers came across as nothing more than uncouth – especially when taking into account Mexico’s ongoing femicide crisis.
Still, despite the distasteful display, López Obrador actually commended Garcia’s actions at the rally during his daily morning press conference on Monday, May 22.
“Veracruz has an extraordinary governor,” said AMLO. “Now he’s being attacked because he called a demonstration to protest the corruption of judges; he did very well.”
AMLO’s indifference to the governor’s display against Piña has drawn the ire of feminist groups, including Mónica Mendoza Madrigal, co-president of the Veracruz chapter of the National Network of Women Defenders of Parity in the Mexican Republic.
“It seems very serious to me that these acts of incitement to hatred, and these acts of apology for violence, are coming from those who are authorities in Mexico, especially in the context of insecurity and violence that aggravates the entire Mexican population, the entire Veracruz population and particularly the women of the state of Veracruz,” concluded Mendoza.
López Obrador’s brazen acceptance of Garcia’s exploits on Saturday marks yet another notch in AMLO’s self-serving modus operandi as the federal executive of Mexico: turning a blind eye to the violence epidemic plaguing women across the country, while offering those who toe the Morena party line unwavering support, no matter how egregious their actions.