President López Obrador on Wednesday once again railed against the United States government’s funding of Mexican civil society organizations he has branded as opponents of his administration.
Speaking at his regular news conference six days after his government sent a diplomatic note to its U.S. counterpart to ask it to explain why it has provided funding to Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI), López Obrador urged Washington to suspend funding of such groups.
The president reiterated that the U.S. government’s funding of political groups which he claims are disguising themselves as civil society organizations is “a clear example of interference and intervention” in internal affairs that are the exclusive domain of Mexicans.
In the case of MCCI, the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, provided funding to the anti-graft group, which has exposed alleged corruption not just in the current federal government but also in its predecessor.
López Obrador also renewed his criticism of the United States government for providing funding to other groups that he also believes are opposed to his administration, such as press freedom organization Article 19.
“This is in violation of the constitution, money from abroad can’t be received to do political work in Mexico. It’s supposed that these United States agencies support members of the so-called civil society. But the truth is that is a simulation, a front,” he said.
“… It’s as if the Mexican embassy in the United States was giving money to [U.S.] government opponents,” López Obrador said.
“[There is] a commitment from the U.S. government to carry out a review [ of its funding, but] I believe they’re taking too long, I say it respectfully. … Hopefully they cancel the support this week.”
MCCI responded to the president’s latest remarks in a statement that rejected his claim that it is a political group. The assertion that the organization has links to political parties is completely unfounded, MCCI said, adding that it will never affiliate itself with a party.
“… The resources with which MCCI operates come from international development agencies, foundations and private organizations in compliance with Mexican laws. … Each financial donation received by MCCI is registered with the relevant authorities,” the statement said.
“… The president has attacked and falsely accused MCCI on 61 occasions during his morning press conference interventions. This conduct inhibits the work that the MCCI carries out. It constitutes political persecution against a civil society organization that … has made responsible, legal and legitimate use of both the resources received from its donors and the freedoms guaranteed by the Mexican constitution.”
Writing in The Washington Post on Wednesday, columnist León Krauze asserted that López Obrador’s claims of U.S. interventionism are designed for political gain but are also reflective of his contempt for criticism.
“Behind López Obrador’s conspiracy theories of American interventionism and his obstinate persecution of independent watchdogs in Mexico lies not only his fear of losing ground in next month’s legislative elections but something more nefarious: his intolerance to both oversight and criticism,” he wrote.
Krauze also noted that the president mocked the MCCI’s board of advisers at a recent news conference.
“’Look, these are the people who question us,’” he [López Obrador] said, chuckling as he pointed to a screen filled with pictures of journalists, intellectuals and entrepreneurs. ‘So much objectivity, plurality, impartiality, independence, autonomy! he added, sarcastically.”
López Obrador has also railed against Claudio X. González, the founder of MCCI and an outspoken government critic.
“In a democracy, you can speak of opponents, but not of coup plotters,” González, who left MCCI almost a year ago, said in an interview with Krauze, referring to the president’s assertions last week that U.S. funding of Mexican organizations was promoting a coup mentality in Mexico.
María Amparo Casar, the current head of MCCI, told Krauze that the government was using “intimidatory actions” against the anti-graft group. She rejected claims that USAID influences MCCI’s work.
“It has no influence whatsoever in the development of the investigation, the approach used or in the results of the investigations. There is no proof of interventionism whatsoever,” Casar said.
“MCCI is not an ‘opposition group.’ We are not behind any coup. Beyond the fact that our stated corporate mission and articles of incorporation expressly prohibit it, there is not a shred of evidence that MCCI participates in partisan politics,” she added. “The nature of our work is uncomfortable for the government. It was for the Peña Nieto government, and it is now.”
Krauze concluded that “a president who publicly berates and exposes his critics or who can accuse the United States of interventionism with absolute impunity is no laughing matter,” noting that on June 6, voters will decide whether to give López Obrador and his administration even more power.
Source: El País (sp)