Former Pemex CEO Emilio Lozoya was directly implicated in the Odebrecht bribery scandal. According to one of the unsealed plea bargain agreements being reviewed by Brazil’s Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF), Lozoya was paid US$ 5.0 million in November 2014 “as a counterpart to undue benefits obtained by Odebrecht.”
In the STF document dated April 4, 2017, Hilberto Mascarenhas, the head of Odebrecht’s “Structured Operations” section, which handled all the bribe payments, said he was directed to make the payment to Lozoya, and that the bribe “was solicited” during a meeting held with Odebrecht’s Mexico head.
As reported by El Economista,
Lozoya denied having anything to do with the supposed bribes paid by Odebrecht. It has not yet been clarified if it was Lozoya himself who solicited the bribe, or someone acting on his behalf, or whether the bribe was actually paid.
Lozoya, who led Pemex from the end of 2012 to February 2016, warned: ‘I reserve the right to take legal action against those who slander me without any legal basis.’
Pemex has not commented on the Lozoya allegations.
Odebrecht has confessed to paying Mexican officials a total of US$10.5 million between 2010 and 2014, a time frame spanning both the Calderón and Peña Nieto governments. No other names of alleged bribe recipients have been disclosed.
In a major reversal — and perhaps a major step forward in investigating official corruption — Pemex today disclosed four contracts it signed with Brazilian contractor Odebrecht between 2010 and 2015.
The state-owned oil company had previously said the contracts were under seal. Pemex also said that the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) on April 3d summoned several unnamed current and former officials to provide testimony.
Until now, the government had seemed to be dragging its feet in investigating the information provided by Odebrecht as part of its plea bargain agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, made public in December, that it had paid US$10.5 million in bribes to “government officials” in Mexico to win contracts between 2010 and 2014. One US$6 million bribe was paid to a “high-level official of a Mexican state-owned and state-controlled company”–presumably Pemex–between December 2013 and late 2014. The CEO at that time was Emilio Lozoya, and he is reportedly one of the Pemex officials being summoned by the PGR.
More coverage at Reuters. El Financiero.
A new quarterly poll by GEA-ISA for March 2017 provides good insight into Mexican political perceptions. While the bottom line for candidate preferences are similar to other polls, following are some of the highlights that come from a more comprehensive survey.
Net favorable/unfavorable ratings of presidential contenders
- Ricardo Anaya (PAN) is the only potential candidate with a net positive approval rating: +1%.
- Andrés Manuel López Obrador has a net negative rating of only -1%. This is very different from his previous two runs for the presidency.
- All others have large net unfavorable ratings. Politicians are a very discredited breed in Mexico.
The performance of the Enrique Peña Nieto government
- The evaluation worsened along every dimension surveyed, compared to both Nov. 2016 and March 2016. Only 19% approve of his performance as President (down 25% in one year), and 77% disapprove.
- His greatest accomplishment as President: Nothing (43%). His biggest mistake: the gasoline price increases (18% ).
Official numbers show that Mexico set a new record for wrongful homicides in February, and that killings for the first two months of 2017 are up 29% from 2016.
The 1,838 investigations into wrongful homicides opened by the authorities in February — the preferred measure — and the 3,779 in January-February were higher than the numbers registered at the height of the Calderón government’s drug wars in 2011.
In terms for rates per 100k, the numbers are equivalent to the 2011 peak, given population growth. (See chart from Milenio.)
Security columnist Alejandro Hope observes:
January was bad. February was horrible. More than 20 victims per day — sufficient to fill a dumping ground like Colinas de Santa Fe in less than two weeks. … The principal officials in the security area continue to deny the gravity of the situation, fighting over statistics. …. In the principal decision centers there isn’t any interest in doing more than administer the disaster. … The problem, I fear, is one much more of will than of ideas or resources.”
Columnist Sergio Sarmiento has put forward another reason for delaying until November picking a replacement for Carstens as Governor of Banco de México: It will be a consolation prize for either Videgaray or Meade, if either of them is not chosen by President Peña Nieto to be the PRI’s candidate for 2018. Continue reading
Given the very high negatives of the PRI names that have been most discussed as presidential candidates for 2018, José Narro, the current Secretary of Health and former rector of the national university UNAM, is being floated as a potential alternative.
Columnist Jorge Zepeda Patterson writes:
Certainly, Narro is not part of the inner circle, but he has an unbeatable virtue. He is the most popular cabinet member in 2017. He is the only one who is not identified with the governing faction and the corrupt practices associated with them. And this is pure gold for the upcoming election struggle. His name has also been mentioned in the informal list of possible citizen candidates.
Dr. Narro’s major liability is age. He will be 70 next year — but he is younger than Trump. While he is not viewed as a typical politico — he is a surgeon by training, and well respected by intellectuals — his roots in the PRI are deep. He at one time headed the PRI’s think tank, Siglo XXI, and has been Undersecretary in both the Government Ministry and the Health Ministry in previous governments.
Agustín Carstens announced that President Peña Nieto had asked him to postpone his departure as head of Banco de México from April until November, and that he had agreed. Given the lack of a clear successor to head the Bank, the delay will provide some additional financial stability through the gubernatorial elections in June and the 2018 budget approval process in September-November.