Mexico’s Green Party has once again come under fire from environmental organizations that argue that the party’s policy positions and conduct are anything but green.
The Ecologist Green Party of Mexico (PVEM) has proposed and supported a range of legislation that goes against what would normally be expected of a party with environmental interests at heart.
In December 2013, its senators voted in favor of energy reform despite warnings from the Mexican Center for Environmental Law about possible environmental and social impacts “resulting from the generation and use of energy.”
In 2015, the party lauded its own success in implementing a law that banned the use of wild animals in circuses. However, an unintended consequence of the legislation was the abandonment or death of many of the performing animals.
And in March this year legislation on sustainable forest development was criticized by the Mexican Civil Council for Sustainable Silviculture because it could lead to moving backward on issues related to human rights and transparency.
However, the PVEM initiative that has caused most controversy and attracted most criticism is the General Law on Biodiversity presented by Senator Ninfa Salinas on October 24 last year.
The law proposes changes to the General Law on Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection and a repeal of the General Law on Wildlife.
Greenpeace and other environmental organizations have warned that the law is not based on serious scientific research and could lead to a plunder of natural resources, arguing that the initiative “puts the conservation of wild species and protected natural areas at risk.”
The director of Greenpeace México, Gustavo Ampugnani, told the newspaper El Universal that he was surprised by the urgency with which the PVEM wanted to pass the legislation.
“They said that it is urgent because next year there will be political uncertainty. For them it’s urgent to get it through before the elections. They want to show [they have made] accomplishments to maintain an alliance with [the PRI]. That shouldn’t be the fundamental objective of a green party.”
The PVEM ran in the 2012 elections in an alliance with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), helping it return to power after an absence of 12 years.
Consequently, they were rewarded with influential environmental positions within the government such as the head of the Environmental Secretariat (Semarnat) and the Natural Protected Areas Commission (Conanp), according to two environmentalists.
“Because they formed an alliance with the PRI, that’s the way that favors are normally paid for, with positions. But like the people of that party their principles are really not environmental . . . .” said Eduardo Lino, a lawyer for the group People for the Defense of Animals.
Raúl Arriaga, a member of Mexico’s College of Biologists and a former undersecretary at Semarnat, agrees and further questions the party’s green credentials.
“They talk about waste, wildlife and many things but they don’t have scientists. The leaders and people who have developed [within the organization] are not connected to environmental issues so their initiatives, in reality, respond to other interests.”
The Greenpeace director also questioned the true motives of the party.
“The PVEM has put forward highly controversial legislation. It has obeyed . . . purely political forces and interests that are adrift from the environmental interest. Their initiatives fall short. They have this vision of having seats [in parliament], of having a block that doesn’t have an environmental trajectory. It’s regrettable because it would be useful for Mexico to have representation in environmental politics.”
And it is not just the party’s policy initiatives that have attracted criticism. The PVEM has also been criticized for its extravagant spending practices.
According to documents obtained by El Universal, the PVEM has spent almost 229 million pesos (US $12.7 million) between 2011 and 2017.
Money used for travel expenses, restaurant meals, office groceries, telephone calls and the purchase of clothes, technology and vehicles have particularly been called into question.
For party detractors, excessive spending is further evidence that the party has strayed irrevocably from its own stated political objective of “strengthening the constitutional right of all Mexicans to a healthy environment for their development and well-being.”
Arriaga also argues that none of the PVEM representatives has a background in the environment or the necessary know-how or will to achieve positive environmental outcomes.
“We have people in charge of institutions with zero knowledge about leading the country’s environmental policies. The Green Party is the worst thing that has happened to environmental legislation.”
Source: El Universal (sp)