At a moment when all political parties are seeking ways to stop corrupt militants within their ranks, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto answered in an interview aired Sunday by the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) Channel 11 that indeed all parties have rotten apples.
“I think the political cost hits all parties. There’s not one that can contend that it has not had one — unfortunately for all — instance of militant actors in their parties that are not being pointed out or that are facing charges.”
The President looked weary and seemed worried to use the wrong word at a moment when former Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte and nine more members of the President’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) now boast arrest warrants and are wanted by the Attorney General’s Office (PGR). Also, former Sonora Gov. Guillermo Padrés of the National Action Party (PAN) is being sought in 190 countries for embezzlement and money laundering. Duarte faces similar charges.
“Today,” said President Peña Nieto regarding Duarte and Padrés, “we have two cases of former governors very much pointed at (for corruption) and enough evidence for the PGR to start an investigation and obviously act according to the law.”
During the interview, the president denied any involvement with the allegedly corrupt governors on the lam and even awarded them an opportunity that in accordance to the law belongs to them, a chance to defend themselves.
“It seems to me that any official that is accused of corruption will also have the opportunity to respond to the accusations, of facing justice. I think the investigations themselves will be the ones pointing out to those who are responsible of corruption and those who have not,” he said.
The president concluded that no political party is currently interested in covering up for them much the less encourage militants to act against the law.
That was the gist of the interview but it carried out a message that has PRI and PAN executives moving fast to get rid of the hot potatoes that Duarte and Padrés have become not just for them, but for the health of the Mexican democratic system.
In fact, the PAN summoned Guillermo Padrés to show up last Monday to answer questions from his fellow party members but, as expected, he did not show up. According to the PAN’s Anti- Corruption Committee president Luis Felipe Bravo Mena, Padrés did send a message through his defense lawyers claiming that he could not “physically show up to the audience because I would be arrested and publicly exhibited for the benefit of the interests of spurious politicians.”
Bravo Mena pointed out that Padrés has not been expelled from the PAN yet but that all the evidence to do so is being garnered and that an internal trial and a resolution “will not take long.”
On the other hand, Javier Duarte was summoned by the PRI to show up and explain his defense to his PRI peers in the party’s Mexico City offices at 1 p.m. Wednesday but, probably for the same reasons as Padrés, Duarte decided a no show. Unlike Padrés, he did not send a message to the overseeing committee in charge of the questioning.
As Duarte did not show up, the PRI’s Justice Committee, after waiting eight hours for him, decided to expel him from the party so as of Tuesday evening Duarte has absolutely no legal protection under the law or his political party.
Another novelty is that there was a last minute change of head at the PGR with Arely Gómez being moved over to the Public Function Secretariat which oversees corruption activities, while Senator on-leave Raúl Cervantes has been appointed Attorney General. Both still have to be approved by Congress.
By the way, last Friday PRI President Enrique Ochoa proposed the integration of an Anti-Corruption Committee to oversee the behavior of militants. The PRI, considered by historians as one of the most corrupt political parties in Latin America, never needed one because nobody has ever even considered a suspect.
The one fact is that the case of these two governors is denting the reputation of both parties and surely neither will come out unscathed from this affair.
In all political corridors these two birds (Padrés and Duarte) of a feather are the talk of the day and cynics are betting a peso that they will never be caught — not under the Peña Nieto administration at least — while those who still believe in Santa Claus and the Mexican justice system claim that they’ll be brought to trial and applied the old useless cliché that claims these fellows will be prosecuted under “the full weight of the law.”
Make your wager.