20 de octubre de 2020
English - News

Odebrecht bribery case in Mexico steaming along 2 mo. after explosive start

 Photo dated March 14, 2014, showing the former director of Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Emilio Lozoya, in Mexico City.  EFE-EPA/ Mario Guzman

Photo dated March 14, 2014, showing the former director of Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Emilio Lozoya, in Mexico City. EFE-EPA/ Mario Guzman

By Pedro Pablo Cortes

Mexico City, Sep 28 (efe-epa).- The initial court hearing for Emilio Lozoya, the former director of Mexico's oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and the first Mexican to be indicted in the Odebrecht bribery case, marked its two-month point on Monday after going through weeks of silence following an explosive start laden with leaks and video-scandals.

Given this scenario, experts in fighting corruption told EFE of their concern that the matter will remain murky despite the promises of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has called it an emblematic case of the "neoliberal period."

"We're waiting to see if there's the political will to carry this through, that is, if all this - as the critics have said - is just a media show that is basically for electoral ends," Mara Gomez, the coordinator of the Mexico Evalua justice program, said.

The former Pemex boss from 2012-2016 during the 2012-2018 presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto has shaken the Mexican political scene with his extradition from Spain on July 17 and the start of his first court hearing on July 28.

Lozoya testified before the national Attorney General's Office against Peña Nieto and former Finance Secretary Luis Videgaray.

He accused them of "ordering" him to accept $10.5 million from the Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht for the election campaign and to bribe lawmakers from the opposition National Action Party (PAN) to support the energy reform that opened up that sector to private investment in 2013.

But Lozoya also pointed to the 2006-2012 administration of Felipe Calderon claiming that special privileges were accorded to petrochemical firm Etileno XXI, which is linked to a Mexican company that is a partner of Odebrecht.

Thus, the Mexico Evalua expert said she sees here an opportunity to undertake the first maxi-case, a coordinated effort by police, prosecutors and judges that will handle it as an organized structure instead of as individual - and presumably unrelated - crimes.

To accomplish that, she pointed to recent reforms that allow Lozoya to provide evidence and testimony in exchange for legal, and presumably physical, protection.

"It should all be related, and it's something that remains to be investigated, with Mexico's endemic violence and the big violations of human rights, so it's not a case that we should view in an isolated way. It's a case that is touching on the center of the political and economic" structure, Gomez said.

Lopez Obrador also has attracted criticism because he has used his morning press conferences to air evidence, insult implicated opposition figures and call on the Attorney General's Office to release other evidence, according to Eduardo Bohorquez, the director of Transparencia Mexicana.

"He's politically using the Lozoya case to prepare the ground for the 2021 election (i.e. the mid-term elections), but that doesn't mean that he's the authorized spokesman for making the case transparent, that being (the domain) of the General Transparency Law and the Attorney General's Office," he said.

Bohorquez acknowledged that it's necessary "to make the entire process transparent," as the president has called for, but he demands that it be done with respect for the law and for the autonomy that the AG's Office must have.

He emphasized the examples of Brazil and Peru, where court hearings in the Odebrecht case were open to the public, something that is not happening in Mexico.

"It's so important that the case proceed in an open manner because we don't need interpreters. (Mexican) society is a mature society that must form its own opinion starting with what it sees and going according to the judicial process," he said.

In his press conferences, the president initially had displayed images of alleged former Pemex officials who delivered money to former PAN collaborators in Congress, something that was halted after a video of Lopez Obrador's brother became public in which he is receiving campaign "contributions."

This "dirty case" would complicate rendering judgment on Lozoya, warned Luis Angel Martinez, an anticorruption expert with Ethos: Public Policy Laboratory.

"If Lozoya doesn't like the sentence it's almost a fact that he's going to be shielded because the whole case had an initial lack of due process when the complaint was leaked and videos came out where he was allegedly involved," Martinez said.

The Ethos expert said that Mexico finds itself facing the possibility of losing "another opportunity" to resolve a key case involving corruption among the top staff of the Peña Nieto government.

"It's a whole international network of corruption and we can learn all about this, if the Lozoya matter were to have been started correctly using the entire National Anticorruption System as should have been done. However, I don't see that the whole framework is working to investigate all those who are allegedly implicated," he said.


Histórico de noticias
Trump trying to turn page on pandemic just 15 days before election

By Lucia Leal

Piñera: Chile wants to live in peace after night of extreme violence

Santiago, Oct 19 (efe-epa).- Chilean President Sebastian Piñera said Monday that the majority of his country's citizens wans to live "in democracy and in...

Argentina nearing 1 million Covid-19 cases with no end in sight

Buenos Aires, Oct 19 (efe-epa).- Seven months of restrictions have not managed to bend the coronavirus infection curve in Argentina, a country that now is...

Pelosi gives White House 48-hour ultimatum to agree on rescue package

Washington, Oct 18 (efe-epa).- The speaker of the US House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, on Sunday gave the White House 48 hours to reach an...

Mexican artist reinvents painting shoes for Day of the Dead

By Jose de Jesus Cortes

Barrett sidesteps giving Senate committee her view on presidential powers

By Susana Samhan

Trump's son Barron tested positive for coronavirus, first lady says

Washington, Oct 14 (efe-epa).- Barron, the youngest son of President Donald Trump, tested positive for the coronavirus after both his parents became...

IAPA awards journalistic excellence, honors press victims of Covid-19

Miami, Oct 14 (efe-epa).- The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) on Wednesday presented its 2020 awards, including a special one granted posthumously...

LatAm facing challenge of keeping pandemic from infecting elections

By Laura Nuñez Marin

TV series showcases work of honest Mexican cops

By Monica Rubalcava

Paraguay presents poverty reduction plan with 2030 target

Asuncion, Oct 12 (efe-epa).- The Paraguayan administration on Monday presented the National Poverty Reduction Plan - Jajapo Paraguay (Let's Do It,...

Democrats put Obamacare at center of Supreme Court debate

By Beatriz Pascual Macias

Trump preparing for Florida rally convinced that he's immune to COVID-19

Washington, Oct 12 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump has tested negative for Covid-19 and is not contagious, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley...

Fauci: Trump campaign used my comments without permission

Washington, Oct 11 (efe-epa).- The US government's top epidemiologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the key spokesmen on health issues amid the coronavirus...

Trump: I'm immune from Covid-19, ready to resume election campaign

By Laura Barros

Dancing at Miami elderly care facilities on skids due to social distancing

By Jorge I. Perez

Six ultrarightists charged with planning to kidnap Michigan's Gov. Whitmer

New York, Oct 8 (efe-epa).- Six people linked to an extreme rightist militia group have been arrested and charged with planning to kidnap and possibly...

Big chasm between California, Trump in approach to climate crisis

By Javier Romualdo

Mexican Nobel Prize winner Mario Molina dies

Mexico City, Oct 7 (efe-epa).- Mexican scientist Mario Molina, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995 for his studies on the ozone layer, died...

Trump breaks Covid-19 quarantine, says infection is "blessing from God"

Washington, Oct 7 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump on Wednesday returned to work in the Oval Office, despite not having spent the required time in...

Venezuela's electricity industry facing multiple challenges

By Gonzalo Dominguez Loeda

Trump proposes to Congress sending out 2nd stimulus check

Washington, Oct 7 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump on Wednesday challenged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to immediately approve sending a second check for...

Activist in orca costume asks Miami's Seaquarium to free Lolita

Miami, Oct 6 (efe-epa).- Animal rights activists, including one woman dressed as an orca but wearing shackles, gathered on Tuesday in front of the Miami...

Trump to debate Biden Oct. 15 as new survey shows ex-VP with 16-pt lead

By Laura Barros