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López Obrador, left and union boss Romero. López Obrador, left and union boss Romero.

Pressure mounts for longtime Pemex union boss to quit

President suggests he should quit and face corruption charges

President López Obrador said on Tuesday that the longtime boss of the Pemex workers’ union should quit to face the corruption charges filed against him.

The Federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR) opened an investigation into Carlos Romero Deschamps in July after the Finance Secretariat’s Financial Intelligence Unit filed criminal complaints against the union boss and members of his family for money laundering and illegal enrichment.

A group of state oil company employees has also presented evidence to federal authorities to substantiate accusations that Romero embezzled wealth that rightfully belongs to union members.

After suggesting that the union chief should step down from the position he has held since 1993, López Obrador told reporters that his government would not seek to intervene in the Pemex union’s affairs.

“We’re not going to get involved . . . installing a replacement [leader] is a significant change, the union has to resolve that . . .” he said.

Time may be running out for union boss Romero.
Time may be running out for union boss Romero.

The president said that it is not the role of the government to attempt to negotiate Romero’s departure from the union.

“. . . We can’t act in that way,” López Obrador said, adding that “if he wants to leave the position to face up to his [legal] matter” as Supreme Court Judge Eduardo Medina Mora chose to do earlier this month, that’s a decision for him.

“. . . He will resolve this matter, we’re not going to remove a leader in order to install another . . .” he said.

The newspaper Reforma reported on Tuesday that Romero, who has also served as a federal lawmaker with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), is indeed preparing to leave the position he has held for the past 26 years. Sources close to the union leader said that a resignation announcement would be made in the coming days.

However, some federal senators said they won’t be satisfied until Romero – named by Forbes magazine in 2013 as one of the 10 most corrupt politicians in Mexico – is locked up in prison.

“It’s not enough for him [just] to resign, he has to face justice. With all the evidence that he robbed the union and Pemex, he should end up in jail with [his lawyer] Juan Collado,” said Samuel García of the Citizens’ Movement party.

Independent Senator Emilio Álvarez agreed that Romero must face justice, describing him as an epitome of the type of union and political corruption that has long plagued Mexico.

“He’s been a protected figure . . . for years,” he said, adding that if the government allows him to evade justice, it would be a sign that it has reached an “impunity pact” with Romero – a “get out of my way” and “I’ll guarantee you impunity” deal.

Mauricio Kuri and Gustavo Madero of the National Action Party also said that the FGR probe into the union leader must continue.

Romero has been implicated in various scandals while head of the Pemex workers’ union including the so-called Pemexgate case in which the union was found to have diverted 500 million pesos to the 2000 presidential campaign of PRI candidate Francisco Labastida.

He has also been criticized for his ostentatious lifestyle, including giving a limited-edition Ferrari to his son and picking up the tab for the lavish wedding of his daughter.

Romero was re-elected to head the union in 2017; his term doesn’t expire until 2024.

Source: Reforma (sp) 

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