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.
The arrest in Italy of former Tamaulipas governor Tómas Yarrington (1999-2004), based on information provided by the U.S., and fresh revelations on how he avoided arrest since an arrest warrant was issued in 2012 have spurred new debate on official complacency (at best) in prosecuting senior PRI officials in Mexico.
Amazingly, it appears that while Yarrington was a fugitive, the state attorney general’s office in Tamaulipas under PRI governor Egidio Torre (2012-16) was paying eight bodyguards to protect him. This came to light only after a PAN governor was elected and took office in October 2016.
Surreal. Kafkaesque. Incomprehensible. The PRIista government commissioned and paid for his bodyguards, but didn’t know where to find the fugitive ex-governor?
questioned columnist Héctor de Mauleón.
It was only after these revelations that the current federal PGR issued a Ps. 15 million reward for Yarrington’s arrest, and he is believed to have fled the country.
Both the U.S. and Mexico are seeking to extradite Yarrington. He is alleged to have worked with both the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas, protecting state and municipal police and mayors who were in the pay of the cartels, and laundered millions in drug proceeds. He was indicted in Mexico in 2012.
The Peña Nieto government has also drawn scorn from the press for trying to take credit for providing Italy with information that led to his arrest. According to official Italian statements, it was U.S. Homeland Security and ICE that provided the intelligence that led to his capture.
It’s the corruption, stupid! In a country that is becoming more and more disappointed and skeptical, corruption has become one of the most painful and important political issues
writes Sergio Sarmiento today.
Sources: El Universal, Breitbart Texas, Reforma, El Pais,
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% ).
The campaigns for Governor of the State of Mexico officially kicked off just after midnight on Monday morning, with the three leading candidates holding large public meetings.
A new poll in El Financiero, shows PRI candidate Alfredo Del Mazo back in the lead with 32%, recovering from the public’s strong reaction to the January gasoline price shock. The PAN’s Josefina Vázquez Mota — who doesn’t really have roots in the state — is holding steady at 26%. Delfina Gómez of Morena has risen strongly to tie her, taking votes from the PRD, which continues to fade. (These percentages exclude undecided voters — 32% of those surveyed.)
In his kickoff, Alfredo del Mazo promised to make the state the safest in the country, with more security video cameras and panic buttons on public buses (the frequent target of robberies and hijackings) and to expand further social programs, including giving housewives a “pink salary.”
PAN candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota promised to put an end to “the corrupting PRI,” and to find a place for the state’s ruling families next to the fossils in the history museum. (Edomex is one of five states where the PRI has never lost the governor’s palace.)
Morena candidate Delfina Gómez also promised to break the PRI’s monopoly in power, saying she “knew the pain of hunger. ”
All three parties are bringing the full force of their national organizations to bear — and in the case of the PRI, also the federal government. Cabinet secretaries have been in the state an average of three times per week for the past seven months, for ribbon cuttings or to give away everything from washing machines to chickens under the banner of “social assistance.”
The stakes are clearly highest for the PRI. A loss would probably be a stake in the heart for their hopes of keeping control of the government in 2018, and strip President Peña Nieto of whatever small prestige he still commands.
Sources: El Universal, Reforma, Milenio
According to columnist Ana Paula Ordorica, the Pemex board of directors opened investigations into three issues that occurred when Emilio Lozoya was head of the state oil company: contracts with the Brazilian contractor Odebrecht, the purchase of two fertilizer companies, and the acquisition of nine aircraft.
Lozoya, a close personal friend of Enrique Peña Nieto, was CEO of Pemex from the beginning of the EPN government in Dec. 2012 to Feb. 2016.
Odebrecht has confessed to paying US$10.5 million in bribes to Pemex officials, during both the Calderón and EPN governments. (The Odebrecht contracts have been put under seal.) Little apparent progress has been made by Mexican authorities in pursuing a corruption case that was handed them on a silver platter.
In Jan. 2014 and Jan. 2016, Pemex inexplicably purchased two fertilizer manufacturing companies for a total of US$730 million, for reasons that have never been explained adequately. (The documents justifying the purchase were also placed under seal for 12 years.) In January 2017, the company hired UBS to sell the money-losing operations.
Finally, Pemex purchased 5 airplanes and 4 helicopters while Lozoya was CEO for almost US$100 million “to strengthen Pemex’s operational capabilities.” However, according the audits of the company, at least four of the aircraft were never entered as assets in the company’s books, and they appear to have been used for personal purposes.
Doubts are emerging about President Peña Nieto’s ability to keep control of the succession process, given the abysmal polling of the potential PRI candidates for the 2018 presidential election.
Until now, almost all have assumed that EPN would pick his successor using the “dedazo,” the big finger, that PRI presidents in the pre-democratic era exercised to indicate their successor. Indeed, EPN has maintained iron control of gubernatorial nominations through his term.
An anonymous PRI official told columnist Salvador García Soto,
We have to tell President Peña that the method for picking gubernatorial candidates until now won’t work to solve the succession issue inside the PRI. The president needs to innovate, open the process, and let many aspirants run in an open manner to help the PRI reposition itself in an adverse environment in which the other parties and candidates have big advantages.
According to García Soto, Presidencia’s last internal poll shows that all the potential PRI candidates finish a distant third against AMLO and any PAN candidate. The best positioned of the PRIistas is Health Secretary José Narro. In a trial ballot, Narro captures 19% of the vote, AMLO 29.6%, and Margarita Zavala of the PAN 24.3%.
These PRI dissidents are promoting the idea that the PRI National Assembly, scheduled to meet at the beginning of August, should decide the methods for selecting candidates for the 2018 races.
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