Monday, April 15, 2024

Dissident governors question president’s reasoning behind abolishing trusts

A group of 10 dissident governors has rejected President López Obrador’s claim that they are defending corruption by opposing the federal government’s plan to abolish more than 100 public trusts.

López Obrador said Monday that “those who are defending the trusts are defending corruption … because these trusts had no control, … there was no transparency.”

His remark came after the Federalist Alliance (AF), as the group of dissident governors is called, announced that it would launch a legal challenge against the government’s plan to eliminate 109 trusts, which has already been approved by the lower house of Congress.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the AF said there were two surprising aspects to the president’s comment.

“First, all of these trusts have been subject to audit since 2015 and have rigorous rules and controls,” it said.

“Second, with what moral quality can the federal government seriously speak about combatting corruption when this is reduced solely to public derision and its media handling [of the issue] for electoral purposes.”

The governors of Aguascalientes, Coahuila, Colima, Chihuahua, Durango, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas said they categorically deny defending corruption that may exist in the management of any public trust.

They also said that current laws only allow for a public trust to be abolished if its raison d’etre is fraudulent.

“There is no sanction, either administrative or criminal,” that punishes corrupt conduct with the abolition of a trust, the AF said.

The governors’ collective rejected López Obrador’s claim that the government is not confiscating the money from the trusts – which this year had a combined budget of 68 billion pesos (US $3.1 billion) – but rather “collecting” it for redistribution.

(The president said that anyone receiving government funding via a public trust will continue to receive it if it is justified and they deserve it.)

The AF said that whether the government confiscates or collects the trust money, the effect is the same: “The state appropriates the totality of the assets of the 109 legal entities [the trusts] when no one can be deprived of their assets and rights without trial.”

It added that López Obrador has “expressly” acknowledged that the government will “collect” the trusts’ resources before they are abolished when the law dictates – “and logic advises” – that their assets be disbursed upon abolition, not prior.

The AF called on the Senate to stop the abolition and prevent the “irreversible damage” it would cause. However, its plea is likely to be fruitless given that the ruling Morena party leads a coalition which has a majority in the upper house.

Several academics have also criticized the plan to abolish the public trusts, asserting that it will deal a historic blow to science and culture.

Government watchdog Causa en Común (Common Cause) said last week that funding for scientific research, cultural projects, disaster response, the defense of human rights, the protection of journalists, agricultural development, scholarships for students and attending to victims of crime would be placed at risk by the plan.

AF Governor Javier Corral of Chihuahua charged earlier this week that the federal government wanted access to the trust funds to help pay for social programs next year, when the midterm elections will be held.

The Federalist Alliance has also criticized the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and described López Obrador as a threat to democracy.

Its 10 members announced last month that they were withdrawing from the National Conference of Governors and that they intended to become a counterbalance to what they see as the president’s attempt to concentrate power in the federal government.

Source: Reforma (sp) 

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