As the week rapidly wanes at the Mexican Senate, the most important of several bills that have to be approved by Saturday is no doubt the Anti-Corruption Bill.
In fact, Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) leader in the Senate, Emilio Gamboa, is sternly complaining about the impromptu participation of independent non-government organizations two weeks ago, who filed the so called “three by three” addition to the Anti-corruption Bill, which forced them to momentarily retire from the floor last Thursday.
“It’s just that the ‘three by three’ amendment proposal, if applied as is, could unleash a witch-hunt.”
Immediately, Mexican humor popped up and a cartoonist poked fun at the PRI leader portraying him as a witch on a broomstick, with the exact quote above.
Not only that, Gamboa said that there were more important bills on the PRI’s agenda than the Anti-Corruption bill, and one of them was the one introduced to Congress last week by President Enrique Peña Nieto legalizing possession of up to an ounce of marijuana.
The truth is that Gamboa, as well as the PRI tailgating Green Party (PVEM), and now the Social Encounter Party (PES) which has ganged up with the PRI-PVEM coalition, do not want the Anti-Corruption bill because it would prevent congressmen from wheeling and dealing without accountability.
In fact, the ‘three by three’ propositions introduced with the backing of over 600,000 signatures from registered voters is said to have deeply irritated at least these three political parties because they saw it as an intrusion by NGOs into what is supposed to be their duty — to legislate.
Gamboa’s excuses for not participating in the now urgent discussions of the Anti-Corruption Bill sounded a red alarm among other senator members of the PRI, who moved in quickly casting aside their leader by defending their legislative efforts on behalf of the Anti-Corruption Bill.
Senator Emilio Burgos outright denied that the PRI-PVEM coalition is blocking the people’s ‘three by three’ initiatives because they came out of nowhere and “lack consensus” among parties, hence they are trying to bring them to a dead stop.
In the usual pacifying traditionally used by PRI politicians, Burgos said that perhaps there was some reticence among PRI members (namely Gamboa), but that on the other hand discussion and legislation was going ahead.
There is no reticence, he said, “But what’s at hand is the interest of a group of senators to do our work well, to come up with a law that boasts ‘teeth’ to serve the nation.”
Burgos denied “frustration” from “other senators” claiming that what they want is to “incorporate the best of all initiatives presented, including the opinions of civil society.”
Burgos’s negotiating tone surely does not coincide with last Thursday’s heated session on the Senate floor in which Gamboa went as far as calling the ‘three by three’ propositions “unconstitutional” amid a lot of name calling from opposing parties, which finally forced the PRI-PVEM coalition to walk out of the session amid catcalls.
But with the Anti-Corruption bill in the rewriting tank, the Senate approved Tuesday the also controversial Federal Transparency and Access to Public Information bill by a 72-4 majority approval vote, and it was ordered for immediate publication at the Official Gazette.
This was a bill returned from the Chamber of Deputies and about the only change made was the protection of this department’s workers’ rights, among several minor amendments.
Gamboa made it a point to insist on the fact that in the PRI-PVEM coalition there is willingness to legislate, and that perhaps the heavy workload the senators are facing to meet the period’s deadline next Saturday is high.
“We’re working on many laws and the truth is that at the present we’re dealing with an oversized package of issues,” such as the Centralized Police Command, the Anti-Corruption regulatory bill and, last but not least, the new marijuana legalization bill.
But in the end Senator Gamboa did not back down on his claim that the ‘three by three’ bill was both “unconstitutional” and a “witch-hunt.”
“Who are the witches?” people are asking.
Surely, all corrupt politicians, but, is there any other kind?