On 15th September the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, announced his intention to hold a popular consultation on the possible prosecution of former presidents who ruled Mexico from 1988 to 20181. To do so, he sent a formal request to the Senate of the Republic. Obrador suggested that the consultation take place on 6th June 2021 or on the date established in article 35 of the Constitution2.
At the same time a national popular campaign to collect signatures took place for the same purpose3. Through this route, the rubrics of two percent of those registered in the nominal list of voters were required, for which at least 1,800,727 signatures were required4. Although the Consultation Promoting Committee far exceeded 2 million rubrics, these were delivered to the Senate of the Republic around midnight, hours after the Mexican President did the same5. This fact caused the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation to annulate the popular petition in favor of the presidential one, both very similar6,7.
The former presidents in question are: Enrique Peña Nieto, Felipe Calderón, Vicente Fox, Ernesto Zedillo and Carlos Salinas de Gortari. The reasons for their judgment are diverse and include, among other facts, corruption, the privatization of numerous companies or the manipulation of electoral processes. However,it is not clear that such acts are criminal according to current legislation,or the legal mechanisms that would allow the criminal prosecution of these people8.
On the other hand, the ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation that guarantees the legitimacy of the consultation, substantially changed its content. The original question explicitly mentioned the five former presidents and the current one is mentioned as “political actors”9.
It is to be expected that the Powers will put a lot of obstacles to the process. The road from the current point to the final prosecution of “political actors” will be long and hard. In addition of having powerful legal defense mechanisms, they may still have influence in the judicial system, or their crimes may have already been time barred. Therefore the judicial process may lead nowhere10.
However popular justice does not understand legal tricks.The people must continue to mobilize so that justice is done and caused damages will be repaired, at least partly. But above all the People of Mexico must continue to mobilize because they can set an important precedent, in their country and throughout the world.
1 https://lopezobrador.org.mx/2020/09/15/presidente-da-a-conocer-solicitud-de-consulta-popular-para-llevar-a-juicio-a-expresidentes/ 2 https://lopezobrador.org.mx/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/15-09-2020-Carta-al-Senado-de-la-Repu%CC%81blica.pdf 3 https://www.juicioexpresidentes.mx/ 4 https://www.juicioexpresidentes.mx/ruta-legal 5 https://www.jornada.com.mx/ultimas/politica/2020/09/16/comite-pro-juicio-a-ex-presidentes-entrego-2-5-millones-de-firmas-a-senado-5405.html 6 https://www.jornada.com.mx/ultimas/politica/2020/12/10/scjn-desestima-peticion-ciudadana-de-consulta-sobre-ex-presidentes-3009.html 7 https://www.internet2.scjn.gob.mx/red2/comunicados/noticia.asp?id=6293 8 https://www.elsoldemexico.com.mx/mexico/politica/que-es-la-consulta-popular-suprema-corte-diputados-ciudadania-5693468.html 9 https://www.internet2.scjn.gob.mx/red2/comunicados/comunicado.asp?id=6230 10 https://www.jornada.com.mx/ultimas/politica/2020/10/02/editorial-scjn-fallo-historico-por-la-consulta-7334.html