Former president Felipe Calderón has accused President López Obrador of using ex-Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya as an “instrument of revenge and political persecution” after the erstwhile state oil company chief accused him of acting corruptly while in office.
His claim came after the leaking to media outlets on Wednesday of a document submitted to the federal Attorney General’s Office in which Lozoya – currently awaiting trial on corruption charges – accused him, former presidents Enrique Peña Nieto and Carlos Salinas Gortari and several other former officials of illicit conduct related to government dealings with the Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht.
Calderón, who Lozoya accused of approving the sale of ethane to an Odebrecht subsidiary at a heavily discounted price, wrote on Twittter:
“The illegal and showy management of the [Lozoya] case confirms that Lozoya (with the blackmail of having his mother imprisoned) is used by López Obrador as an instrument of revenge and political persecution. He’s not interested in justice but rather lynching [by] making ridiculous accusations” against me.
López Obrador, who has clashed frequently with Calderón since he lost the 2006 presidential election to him, last week called on the ex-president to testify in the Lozoya case. He also claimed last week that Mexico was a narco-state during Calderón’s 2006-12 administration.
The president said last Friday that he had forgiven Calderón for “stealing” the presidency at the 2006 election but the long-standing acrimonious relationship between the two men doesn’t appear likely to warm any time soon.
Ricardo Anaya, a former National Action Party (PAN) lawmaker who was the party’s candidate in the 2018 presidential election, also spoke out after it came to light that Lozoya had accused him of receiving a 6.8-million-peso (US $306,500 at today’s exchange rate) bribe in exchange for supporting the former government’s 2013-14 structural reforms, including the controversial energy reform that ended a 75-year state monopoly in the sector.
In a video message, Anaya described the accusation against him as “completely false” and “truly absurd.”
He noted that Lozoya accused him of receiving the bribe money in the carpark of the Chamber of Deputies in August 2014 but highlighted that he wasn’t even a deputy at that time.
“In addition to being corrupt, Lozoya is very bad at lying,” Anaya said.
The former PAN lawmaker, who also served as the party’s national president between 2015 and 2017, said he would initiate legal action against Lozoya for “moral damage.”
“I’ll do it because I am certain that there is no support at all for the vile lie that Lozoya has invented against me,” he said. “I don’t care how long it takes me; I will defend my honor and continue fighting to change Mexico.”
Querátaro Governor Francisco Domínguez and his Tamaulipas counterpart Francisco García Cabeza de Vaca, both former PAN senators, also rejected Lozoya’s claim that they received bribes in exchange for supporting the previous government’s reforms.
Domínguez described Lozoya’s accusation as an “unprecedented vile deed” and “libel,” and asserted that the words of a “confessed criminal” cannot be trusted.
Speaking alongside López Obrador at a press conference Wednesday, the governor distanced himself from the actions of his personal secretary, whom he fired on Monday after a video surfaced showing him accepting 2.4 million pesos in cash when he was a Senate official.
“I removed him from his position, … for my part, I don’t have anything to fear, nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hide. In my life I have always faced up [to accusations against me], today won’t be an exception,” Domínguez said, pointing out that he was a supporter of energy reform long before the previous government’s presented its initiative.
“Mr. Emilio Lozoya has sought to involve me … in acts of corruption. He has only provided words which are worth as much as his standing – nothing.”
García Cabeza de Vaca of Tamaulipas wrote on Twitter: “I will not allow them to use me for electoral purposes nor to hide the country’s serious problems. I will respond with resolve to the lies of the confessed criminal Lozoya.”