LatinNews Daily - 24 November 2021

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MEXICO: Backlash against decree seeking to fast-track megaprojects

On 23 November Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador defended a decree announced the previous day which declares infrastructure projects carried out by the federal government to be an issue of national security.


The decree has produced a wave of criticism both locally and abroad, as well as complaints that it is unconstitutional. President López Obrador’s critics argue that it undermines his insistence that his left-wing Movimiento Regeneración Nacional (Morena) government is committed to transparency and accountability and it has subjected the president to fresh claims of authoritarianism and fears regarding the rule of law and separation of powers in Mexico.

  • Yesterday in his morning press briefing, President López Obrador insisted that the decree was aimed at stopping bureaucracy from holding up projects. “This has nothing to with transparency,” he said, adding that it is an “internal matter between agencies”. He said it was aimed at speeding up progress on works such as the Tren Maya railway line in the Yucatán peninsula (a project rejected by Maya indigenous groups in Yucatán state which has triggered a string of legal challenges against it).
  • Yesterday the national institute for transparency and access to information (INAI), an autonomous government body, announced that it was presenting an appeal before the supreme court (SCJN) against the decree on the grounds that it could jeopardise the right to access to information.
  • Yesterday the president of the right-wing opposition Partido Acción Nacional (PAN), Marko Cortés, announced that the PAN would challenge the decree “through all possible legal channels”.
  • Private sector lobbies such as Consejo Coordinador Empresarial (CCE) and the confederation of industrial chambers (Concamin) have also rejected the decree. The CCE issued a statement warning that it evades various constitutional and legal norms in place to protect human rights, the environment, transparency, access to public information, economic competition, protection of public resources, and the fight against corruption.

Looking Ahead: The decree is also stoking concern from abroad at a time when other proposed reforms, such as the government’s controversial electricity reform, have sparked fears about the investment climate in Mexico. Yesterday José Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director of US-based NGO Human Rights Watch, tweeted that “every day it becomes more evident that President López Obrador believes himself to be above the law.”

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