Mexican López Obrador urges US to end contributions to anti-corruption NGO
MEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Wednesday increased pressure on the United States to end aid payments to an anti-corruption group.
López Obrador, also known by his initials “AMLO,” pronounced as an acronym, says the US payments are tantamount to interfering in Mexico’s internal affairs and funding opposition to his government. “It would be like the Mexican Embassy in the United States is giving money to the opposition,” the president said. “They shouldn’t be giving any more money.”
López Obrador has claimed Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity are aligned with the opposition, but says he simply monitors government spending and programs for abuse and has criticized previous governments and other parties in addition to the National Regeneration Movement of López Obrador (Morena) and his allies.
In early May, just ahead of an online meeting with US Vice President Kamala Harris, López Obrador said Mexico had filed a diplomatic note with the US embassy on the matter.
On Wednesday he said “the US government is committed to looking into this” but added “they are taking a long time, I respectfully say”.
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“Hopefully by this week they will stop these payments,” López Obrador said. “This money is being used to campaign against us.”
He said it was “urgent” for the US Agency for International Development to stop payments by this week, ahead of the June 6 midterm elections.
The State Department said it does not comment on diplomatic correspondence.
López Obrador has long attacked non-governmental organizations like Mexicans against corruption and impunity, which he says have received around US $ 2.5 million.
He claims the group is aligned with the opposition, although he simply claims that it is simply monitoring government spending and programs for abuse. It was founded three years before López Obrador took office and has criticized previous governments and other parties.
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On Wednesday, the group said in a statement that “we repeat that the MCCI is not linked to any political party and neither will it be.”
He said the president’s repeated attacks – he called the “Mexicans for Corruption” group – amounted to “political persecution” and that the president disclosed the group’s tax information in violation of applicable confidentiality laws.
The organization has published reports criticizing some of López Obrador’s main initiatives, including the cancellation of a partially constructed airport in Mexico City and the construction of a tourist train around the Yucatan Peninsula.
The group’s founder, Claudio X. González, has openly supported opposition candidates in the June 6 elections, which will elect federal lawmakers and state governors.
These elections were marked by significant political violence. the The Financial Times reported on Monday that some 85 politicians were assassinated during an electoral process that began last September, 32 of whom were killed while standing for election. The 2018 election, when López Obrador was elected, was even more deadly, the FT observed.
USAID often supports civil society groups, usually linked to the promotion of democracy and human rights, in many countries. In some countries, these groups have clashed with local governments.
López Obrador is the latest in a series of Latin American presidents who have denounced the external funding of non-governmental organizations.
In 2013, then Bolivian President Evo Morales kicked USAID out of his country, alleging he was working to undermine his government.
In recent months, the Nicaraguan government has proposed, passed and implemented a number of laws making it harder for non-governmental organizations to function and, in some cases, seizing their offices.