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'Do you want Salinas, Peña and Calderón to go to jail?' reads the sign at a table gathering signatures for the Morena party petition. 'Do you want Salinas, Peña and Calderón to go to jail?' reads the sign at a table gathering signatures for the Morena party petition.

Morena launches campaign for public vote on prosecuting ex-presidents

Citizens would decide whether to try five former presidents for corruption

Mexico’s ruling party is attempting to collect 2 million signatures of support for a public consultation to decide whether the five most recent former presidents should face justice for crimes they allegedly committed while in office.

Members of the Morena party’s national council voted unanimously in favor of carrying out a national campaign to collect the signatures required for a referendum in which citizens will be asked whether they support prosecuting Carlos Salinas, Ernesto Zedillo, Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto for alleged acts of corruption and other offenses.

At least 1.8 million people must support a vote in order for one to be held but Morena party president Alfonso Ramírez said the aim is to collect 2 million signatures to ensure that “there are no excuses” for a consultation not to go ahead.

The party will be in a race against the clock because, according to the Constitution, a petition for a consultation can only be submitted between September 1 and 15 in any given year.

If Morena fails to collect the signatures it requires by the middle of next month, it will have to wait until September 2021 to submit a request for a consultation.

Morena party supporters gather signatures in Mexico City.
Morena party supporters gather signatures in Mexico City.

In an interview with the newspaper El Universal, Ramírez acknowledged that some Morena supporters have already begun collecting signatures but added that the party cannot formally do so until the Senate has reviewed and approved a “single format” petition.

He predicted that will occur this week, adding that party members and supporters will subsequently spread out across the country to begin collecting signatures.

“We took away the pension [for past presidents], now we’re going to get rid of [presidential] immunity and [ensure] that ex-presidents are investigated,” Ramírez said.

As the Morena party president acknowledged, members and supporters of the ruling party as well as the Labor Party, a political ally, set up “signing” tables in at least 12 states over the weekend.

According to reports by El Universal, residents of Mexico City as well as those of certain cities in Sinaloa, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Guerrero, Morelos, Tamaulipas, Hidalgo, Quintana Roo, Nuevo León, San Luis Potosí, Tlaxcala and Veracruz had the opportunity to add their signatures to petitions calling for a consultation to be held.

Enrique Calles, one of a group of Morena supporters collecting signatures in Mexico City’s historic center, described garnering support from 2 million people as a “titanic” task but expressed confidence that it would be accomplished.

'Prosecute presidents now!' reads the t-shirt.
‘Prosecute presidents now!’ reads the t-shirt.

He said that there has been support for prosecuting past presidents for years but past efforts to bring them to justice had failed.

According to a recent poll, there is still very strong support for past presidents and other former officials to face justice, with more than 95% of respondents saying they would like to see them tried for the crimes they allegedly committed.

Calles said that he and his fellow activists, who wore shirts emblazoned with the message, “Prosecution of ex-presidents now!” would hit the streets every weekend to collect more signatures.

The efforts to find sufficient support for a consultation even went international with Morena party supporters collecting signatures on Sunday in the New York borough of Queens.

Isaac Ramírez, who collected signatures in the neighborhood of Corona, told El Universal that “we’re very happy because people came” to support the proposal.

“We must take advantage of this golden opportunity to prosecute the corrupt past presidents,” he added.

President López Obrador has made it clear that he supports a referendum although he has said that he won’t vote in favor of prosecuting his predecessors because he favors looking to the future rather than dwelling on the past.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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