The federal government sent a diplomatic note to its United States counterpart on Thursday to ask it to explain why it has provided funding to Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI), a civil society organization that has been critical of President López Obrador and his administration.
In “an act of interventionism that violates our sovereignty,” the United States Embassy in Mexico has financed the anti-graft group since 2018 with funds supplied by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), López Obrador told reporters at his regular news conference on Friday morning.
“We have a report that this group of [businessman and outspoken government critic] Claudio X. González has received about 50 million pesos [US $2.5 million] from 2018 until now, these are the invoices,” the president said as an invoice was projected onto a screen behind him.
González is the group’s founder and former president.
According to its website, USAID’s mission focuses on “strengthening and promoting human rights, access to justice, accountable and transparent governance, and an independent and politically active civil society across all our work.”
The funding by a foreign government of an “opposition group” that through applications for injunctions has “dedicated itself to obstructing all the public works that are being carried out” is “reprehensible,” López Obrador said, adding that his administration is asking the U.S. government to consider suspending its funding.
“… Yesterday we presented a diplomatic note asking the United States government for an explanation about this case,” López Obrador said, explaining that the instructions for it to be drawn up were given by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard.
“The financing for [González’s] group from the United States government is an act of interventionism that violates our sovereignty. That’s why we’re asking that they explain, because it’s a foreign government. Money can’t be given to political groups from another country, our constitution prohibits it. Money can’t be received from another country for political purposes, it’s treason,” he said.
“It’s interference, it’s interventionism and it promotes golpismo [a coup mentality],” López Obrador said.
“To define it conceptually, golpismo doesn’t necessarily have to be related to the use of weapons or the army. Golpismo is a movement that develops over time and can be completed by the army … but the conditions to carry out the coup are created with the support of foreign governments and the media,” he said.
Founded in 2015, MCCI was part of a collective that filed more than 100 injunction requests against López Obrador’s cancellation of the former government’s Mexico City airport project and the current government’s construction of the airport at the Santa Lucía Air Force base.
The group has also published several reports that allege that López Obrador’s administration is plagued by corruption, including one about the government’s youth employment scheme and one about its tertiary education program. MCCI president María Amparo Casar is on the executive committee of another NGO that delivered a scathing assessment of the president and his government in a report published last month.
López Obrador has previously claimed that MCCI is carrying out a campaign of “sabotage” against his administration and that it took money from foreign foundations to oppose the government’s Maya Train railroad project.
After the president raised his concerns, MCCI defended itself on Twitter.
“… We reiterate the absolute legality of our work [and] energetically reject the use of concepts such as interference, interventionism and golpismo, [insults] hurled from the National Palace to discredit our work,” it said.
“Our commitment with Mexican society and democracy is unwavering,” MCCI said, adding that the government attacks, “which have become a constant in official discourse,” must stop.