Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Home News The Cabinet of López Obrador stumbles on transparency | International

The Cabinet of López Obrador stumbles on transparency | International

The transparency has given headaches to the secretaries of the cabinet of Andrés Manuel López Obrador. In just over a week, the controversy has touched three prominent ministers of a government vehemently committed to the fight against corruption. The effort to transparent the patrimonies of the high bureaucracy has revealed hidden properties in Texas of those in charge of the ministries of Interior (Interior) and Communications and Transport. It has also nuanced the curriculum of the person in charge of the Ministry of Public Education, who has ended up recognizing that he has not completed the second degree that he presumed. Experts believe that this is a good exercise to shed light on the public administration, which has lived in opacity in the last six years.

Esteban Moctezuma, the Secretary of Education, is the man in charge of burying the controversial educational reform approved in the government of Enrique Peña Nieto. The official, who has a Master's degree in Philosophy at Cambridge, has been one of the most recent affected by the express order of López Obrador to reveal assets and trajectories on a public platform accessible on the Internet. The president had given an ultimatum to his collaborators to do it. On Sunday, Moctezuma's curriculum, with a degree in Economics, and who also figured in the cabinet of PRI president Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000), was corrected with a note: "I need to study law and I must present some missing subjects In conclusion".

Some resistances

The secretary of the Civil Service, Irma Eréndira Sandoval, has presumed that 19 high government officials have made their properties transparent. Among them are the Secretaries of State, the head of the office of the presidency, the spokesman and those in charge of the productive companies of the State such as Pemex and the Federal Electricity Commission. Some 250,000 officials, from CEOs upwards, have the responsibility to answer 216 questions about income, expenses, investments, alleged conflicts of interest and tax information. There is a proposal to raise the questionnaire to 780 questions.

But there are also some resistances. Five undersecretaries have not presented their statements and others have reserved the information therein, something that was expressly prohibited by the Mexican president. Among them, the Undersecretary for North America of External Relations, Jesús Seade Kuri; and the Undersecretary of Economy, Ernesto Acevedo. Another 16 undersecretaries have done it partially.

One day later, on Monday, the newspaper Reform He published that Javier Jiménez Espriú, the engineer in charge of the Ministry of Communications and Transportation, had omitted to include in his patrimonial declaration a department in Houston, Texas, which would cost 346,000 dollars (6.6 million pesos). The official had left the spaces of property and companies blank in the statement he made at the end of December. However, the news revelation forced him to give explanations for the apartment in the United States.

Jiménez Espriú explained that the department, bought by his wife in 1992, was donated to a mercantile company created in the United States where he served as administrator. "Prior to my return as a public official, the actions of the company that were in my name were transferred to the ownership of my son, Javier Jiménez Gutiérrez," the secretary justified this week in a press release. The official assures that the transfer of shares to his son, who does not belong to the Administration, exempts him from declaring the property. This is disputed by transparency experts. "It would have to be checked if the authority received the notification that the company exists," Eduardo Bohórquez, director of Transparencia Mexicana (TM), said this week. The analyst considered that this type of donations in life would have to be reflected in more exhaustive formats of patrimonial, fiscal and conflict of interest declarations. These will be the rule once the National Anticorruption System enters into action, which is being conformed.

The case of Jiménez Espriú was the second in a week. Reform also revealed on February 6 that Olga Sánchez Cordero, secretary of the Interior, owns a penthouse which exceeds $ 500,000 in Houston, Texas. The secretary, who was judge of the Supreme Court for 15 years, one of the highest paid public positions in Mexico, defended herself saying that she had declared it before the Secretariat of Public Function (SFP), but that it did not appear to be in co-ownership together to her husband, the notary Eduardo García Villegas.

Lopez Obrador said this week that the Republican Austerity Law, pending vote in the Chamber of Deputies, forces public servants to make their assets transparent, something that was previously not a requirement for public officials. "The same will be done with public officials who finish their performance in a position and then go on to work for companies related to the performance they had," the president said Tuesday, suggesting a decade-long ban for a former official. jump to the private sector.

Irma Eréndira Sandoval, the head of the SFP, said that the patrimony of the 19 members of the Cabinet is already available in the eyes of Mexicans. "Of the three previous governments, we are the only ones that have given 100% of total publicity to the patrimonial data," he said. According to Sandoval, none of the secretaries of Peña Nieto did it and in that of Felipe Calderón only four ministers did it, 21% of the Administration 2006-2012. In the government of PAN Vicente Fox, who managed to defeat the PRI, only one official made public his patrimony.

Bohórquez considered that the effort of the Morena Administration is "a huge difference" when compared to what the Peña Nieto government did for transparency. "When the Secretary of Agriculture made his statement public, what he had was the rejection of the rest of the Cabinet and a signal from the president that there was no need to move," said the manager of TM. "The contrast is clear but with transparency stumble officials of all colors and all political parties."



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