Saturday, March 2, 2024

‘Nobody should have privileges:’ secretary resigns after causing flight delay

The secretary of the environment resigned on Saturday after causing the delay of a commercial airline flight and triggering a backlash on social media.

Josefa González-Blanco Ortiz-Mena said in a resignation letter posted to Twitter that there was “no justification” for causing a 38-minute delay to passengers and crew on board a plane preparing to take off from Mexico City bound for Mexicali, Baja California.

“There is no justification. The true transformation of Mexico requires total alignment with the values of equity and justice,” she said.

“Nobody should have privileges, and the benefits of one, even in carrying out one’s duties, cannot be above the well-being of the majority.”

In a separate post on Twitter, González Blanco said “there was no presidential order to delay the departure of the plane,” contradicting an explanation given by one of the passengers.

“I am the only person responsible for what happened. The president’s office never intervened,” she said.

On Saturday afternoon, President López Obrador said he accepted González-Blanco’s resignation, explaining that he had spoken to her about the incident and recommended that she step down.

“We cannot be tolerant of acts of arrogance,” he said. “We have to act with rectitude: zero corruption, zero influence, zero nepotism, none of those scourges in politics.”

The environment secretary was the second cabinet official to quit last week after Germán Martínez, chief of the Mexican Social Security Institute, resigned on Tuesday, citing budget and staffing cuts at the agency and other “pernicious influence” by the Secretariat of Finance.

Since the López Obrador administration took office last December, there have also been significant staffing cuts at the Secretariat of the Environment (Semarnat).

A report in the newspaper El Universal said that during González-Blanco’s administration of the department, 16,630 employees of Semarnat and agencies for which it is responsible were laid off.

The now-former official was criticized for allowing such a large number of dismissals to occur on her watch, and also came under fire for her alleged absence in the face of environmental problems including the arrival of sargassum on the Caribbean coast and recent air pollution problems in the Valley of México metropolitan area and other cities.

Nevertheless, González-Blanco defended her record in her resignation letter.

“We have made the first steps towards the defense and protection of the environment, considering the integrity of the territory, the dignity of communities and the equitable social development to which we aspire,” she said.

López Obrador announced today that the new environment secretary will be Víctor Manuel Toledo, a professor of ecology at the National Autonomous University.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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