The departing chief of the federal agency tasked with distributing funds obtained through the sale of assets seized from organized crime claims that President López Obrador and other high-ranking members of the government expected “blind obedience” of him.
Jaime Cárdenas of the Institute to Return Stolen Goods to the People (Indep) submitted a resignation letter to the president this week in which he claimed that the agency is plagued by corruption and that officials stole jewelry in its possession.
In an interview on Wednesday, Cárdenas said his resignation was related to disagreements he had with López Obrador and his inner circle.
The outgoing Indep director said that they asked him to dismiss employees, cancel contracts and make resources available to other government departments without following proper procedures.
“They believed that I was going to have total and blind obedience to what they told me,” Cárdenas said, adding that he was prepared to follow orders but disagreed with the way officials wanted things to be done.
He said that as a result of his training as a lawyer he insisted on doing things the right way and respecting procedures. His views, Cárdenas added, drove some members of the government to despair because they saw them as obstacles to getting things done.
Despite clashing with López Obrador and members of his team, Cárdenas said that he was – and continues to be – loyal to them.
“But my loyalty wasn’t blind, my loyalty is thoughtful, I believe that’s where the problems started,” he said.
“I expressed doubts and points of views both to the close collaborators of the president as well as the president himself and I believe that they didn’t always like those doubts and remarks,” Cárdenas said, conceding that he lost López Obrador’s support.
The president, he added, believes that politics is about results and that how they are achieved is of lesser importance.
“The president questioned my training as a lawyer several times, … my insistence on procedures,” Cárdenas said after acknowledging that his departure was inevitable.
He said that he still considers López Obrador a “good president” and that he hasn’t become disillusioned with the federal government’s project to transform Mexico.
Earlier on Wednesday, the president charged that Cárdenas quit his post out of fear and a lack of desire to combat corruption within Indep.
The fight against corruption is like the fight between David and Goliath and Cárdenas wasn’t up to it, López Obrador said.
“He didn’t enter [the fight]. … To be a [public] servant in a process of transformation you need desire, conviction and courage, and not give up.”