President López Obrador’s brother and a large sum of money are being mentioned in the same sentence for the second time in less than six months.
Pío López Obrador found himself in the media spotlight last August after two videos emerged showing him receiving large amounts of cash in 2015. The payments were not corrupt but rather “contributions” from ordinary people to strengthen the Morena party, said AMLO, as the president is widely known.
Now, AMLO’s younger brother is in the news again after the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Urban Planning (Sedatu) awarded an 89-million-peso (US $4.5-million) contract for the upgrade of a stadium in Palenque, Chiapas, that is the home ground of a professional baseball team he founded.
Anti-graft group Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI) revealed Monday that Tuxtla Gutiérrez-based company Alz Construcciones was awarded a contract to upgrade the home stadium of the Guacamayas (Macaws) of Chiapas. The stadium is owned by the Palenque municipal government.
MCCI reported that Sedatu disqualified 26 bids because they didn’t meet the established criteria. Among them was one proposal to complete the upgrade for 33 million pesos less than the winning bid and another that was 12.5 million pesos cheaper.
The upgrade includes the construction of team dugouts, dressing rooms, new grandstands and boxes, commercial spaces and public washrooms as well as improvements to the playing surface.
While the money is not going directly to the hands of Pío López Obrador, as was the case with the political “contributions,” the president’s brother, who is also the director of the Guacamayas, lists the Palenque baseball stadium as the club’s business address.
That his brother’s team stands to benefit from a lucrative government contract does not look good for AMLO, who has made combating corruption a central aim of his administration.
The president, who in 2018 posted a video to Twitter that showed him training with the Guacamayas in the lead-up to the presidential election he won, has repeatedly asserted that his government, unlike its predecessors, doesn’t permit nepotism, cronyism or any other forms of corruption.
His commitment to that position was questioned by government critics who charged that the allocation of funds for the stadium upgrade is evidence of hypocrisy and misplaced priorities.
“Mexico is going through one of the worst crises in its history. The health system is on the brink of collapse and thousands of people have lost their jobs. Even so, the López Obrador government prefers to allocate 89 million pesos to a baseball stadium of a team founded by Pío López Obrador,” National Action Party Senator Xóchitl Gálvez wrote on Twitter.
“There are powers above the general interest,” political scientist and columnist Denise Dresser said on Twitter, citing “Pío López Obrador, money and baseball stadiums” as one of several examples.
Her post came in response to a Tuesday morning presidential tweet that asserted that nothing comes before the general interest of the people.
It’s not the first time that López Obrador has come under fire for federal government spending on baseball, which just so happens to be his favorite sport.
He was heavily criticized in 2019 after the government agreed to pay the state of Sonora more than 1 billion pesos to purchase two stadiums that will become baseball schools.
López Obrador faced more condemnation last April when the government ponied up 511 million pesos to complete the purchase of a stadium in Hermosillo at a time when health workers were struggling to find personal protective equipment and supplies to respond to the burgeoning coronavirus pandemic.
Source: El Economista (sp)