A leaked audio of a private meeting between Interior Minister Adán Augusto López and senators confirmed that President López Obrador is trying to hobble Mexico’s transparency agency.
According to the audio files, released by journalist Carlos Loret in the newspaper Latinus, President López Obrador is trying to push the National Institute of Transparency (INAI) toward a “period of impasse.”
“[The president] told me, and I’m repeating it to you, ‘I think that what is best for us is that there be a period of impasse,” the Interior Minister is heard saying in the audio.
“Now, yesterday I told him I was coming and that surely one of the topics discussed would be the [INAI], and, well, the answer is the same — we do not have any urgency for anyone to be named at this time.”
The INAI is an autonomous body charged with guaranteeing access to public information.
On March 15, President López Obrador vetoed the selection of two new INAI commissioners, Yadira Alarcón and Rafael Luna. The president denied that his decision was based on his desire to weaken the agency. The president has previously described the transparency institute as “unnecessary.”
“The INAI thing was vetoed, which is my constitutional right, because there was an agreement — I do not know who carried it out, but everything indicates that one candidate was selected by Morena and one by the PAN [National Action Party], and that should not be allowed,” the president said, referring to allegations that selection was based on negotiations between the political parties and not based on the candidates’ qualifications.
On Thursday, the Senate session was suspended due to the absence of an agreement regarding the new commissioners. The legislature has until the last day of the ordinary session, April 28, to reach an agreement.
During the session, Interior Minister López warned that it would be very difficult, “practically impossible,” for the Senate to reach a consensus to appoint commissioners for the INAI. Senator Ricardo Monreal (Morena) claimed that they would not stop trying to reach an agreement.
During the session, PAN senators hung a banner with the words “INAI Appointments Now!” written on them. They accused Morena of intentionally delaying the process to render the transparency body inoperable.
If the Senate cannot come to a consensus on at least one appointment before the end of the legislative session, the Supreme Court will be charged with resolving the controversy. Both Alarcón and Luna have filed injunctions against the president’s veto.
Since April 1, the INAI has only had four of its seven required commissioners.