President López Obrador today highlighted the approval of constitutional changes to combat corruption and create the national guard as among his most significant achievements in a report to mark his first 100 days in office.
But he conceded that crime-fighting efforts have only succeeded in containing crime rather than reducing it.
Speaking at the National Palace in Mexico City, López Obrador said three constitutional reforms have so far been approved by Congress including one that allows for the prompt seizure of assets acquired through corruption and violence, and another that reclassifies corruption as a serious crime.
The latter reform also removes bail rights for people accused of corruption, fuel theft and electoral fraud, among other offenses.
“. . . It wasn’t accidental that for a long time, corruption wasn’t considered a serious crime,” López Obrador said.
“Do you know when the criminal code was reformed to remove the seriousness [classification] from all acts of corruption? January 10, 1994, in the middle of the neoliberal boom . . .” he added.
The third constitutional reform – to create the national guard – has been approved by Congress and a majority of state legislatures, López Obrador said, adding that its main goal is to “guarantee public security for all Mexicans.”
He didn’t mention that his original proposal for the security force to have a military rather than civilian command had to be modified.
López Obrador explained that legislative processes are under way in Congress to remove the president’s constitutional right to immunity, to guarantee citizens’ right to have their say on government decisions through public consultations and to subject the president’s rule to a vote three years after taking office.
The Congress has also been asked to approve laws on austerity and the right to access health care, and to cancel the educational reform implemented by the past government, he said.
The president pledged that by the middle of this year, the government will have “the essential legal framework” it needs to carry out what he has dubbed the fourth transformation of public life in Mexico.
Among the other achievements the leftist president highlighted were the creation of a truth commission to investigate the case of the 43 missing students of the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college in Guerrero, the plan to close the Islas Marías prison, the decision to release thousands of previously-classified police files and the disbandment of the Center for Investigation and National Security (Cisen).
“We maintain the firm conviction to not allow the state to be used to fabricate crimes against opponents or anyone, or to spy, persecute, torture or massacre the people,” López Obrador said.
The president also pointed to the implementation of social programs, the appreciation of the peso, lower inflation, higher consumer confidence, higher old-age pensions, the creation of a northern border free zone, the introduction of a youth apprenticeship scheme, the creation of a guaranteed price scheme for farmers and the increase to the minimum wage as other government achievements.
The political veteran, who won last year’s election in a landslide, asserted that his administration isn’t at the behest of anyone except the Mexican people.
“The government is for all Mexicans and its principal role is to enforce justice and seek the well-being and happiness of the people,” he said.
López Obrador said that he was determined to “rule by obeying,” highlighting the public consultations he held on the new Mexico City airport – before he took office – and on a thermal power plant in Morelos last month.
With regard to international relations, the president said that a policy of non-intervention has been adopted, stressing that “we want to maintain a relationship of friendship with all the people and governments of the world.”
However, a new poll published by the newspaper El Universal today said that just 21.7% of respondents agreed with López Obrador’s decision to continue to recognize the government of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro.
The president said the relationship with the United States has been “cordial,” adding that neither party has resorted to the use of “accusatory or coarse language.”
López Obrador added that his government is not in favor of using force to contain migration but is seeking instead to address the causes of the phenomenon at its origin – Central American countries, in other words.
To that end, “we’re working with the government of the United States on an agreement of cooperation for development,” he said.
Mexico is “applying a formula to put an end to corruption and impunity in order to release funds that can be allocated to the development and well-being of the people,” López Obrador added.
He said that the government’s crackdown on fuel theft will generate savings of 50 billion pesos (US $2.6 billion) this year and that further funds will be freed up via the elimination of government luxuries such as high salaries for officials.
López Obrador also reiterated his commitment to achieve annual economic growth of 4% during his six-year term, a figure that is double that or more than most public and private financial institutions are predicting for this year and next.
“I’m absolutely sure that combatting corruption . . . will allow productive investment to be applied promptly and efficiently,” he said.
The president also highlighted the benefits that his government’s planned infrastructure projects will bring.
Construction of the Maya Train project will create around 300,000 jobs and after four years will have the capacity to transport 3 million passengers a year, López Obrador said, while pointing out the tourism benefits it will bring.
The president also said that the plan to convert the Santa Lucía Air Force Base for commercial aviation in lieu of continuing with the new Mexico City airport project will not only save more than 100 million pesos but also solve the saturation problem at the current airport more quickly.
Towards the end of his speech, López Obrador ran through statistics for some crimes, including homicides, since he took office, which showed some modest improvements.
However, he conceded, “we have only been able to contain criminality . . . not significantly reduce it as we had wished.”
The president concluded by saying that although it is only “the beginning of the path towards progress with justice,” the government has begun writing “the prologue to a great work of national transformation.”
“. . . I’m grateful for the confidence of the people of Mexico . . . I’m especially grateful for the confidence of the business community. I reiterate, confirm and reaffirm the commitment to not fail. I will never give up. I will die before I betray.”
The people’s confidence to which the president referred has been reflected in two recent polls.
Eight of 10 Mexicans approve of López Obrador’s performance as president, according to today’s El Universal survey, while another published by El Financiero last week showed an almost identical result.
Mexico News Daily