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Mexico president says video shows 'regime of corruption'

Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gives his daily, morning news conference at the presidential palace, Palacio Nacional, in Mexico City, Monday, July 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
August 18, 2020 - 8:52 AM

MEXICO CITY - Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has made cleaning up corruption a theme of his administration, used his daily news conference Tuesday to show a video of two men stuffing stacks of plastic-wrapped cash into a duffel bag — an incident he said was getting too little attention.

The video comes from an unknown source and lacks any context. But local news media identified the two men who appear as former Senate staffers from the conservative National Action Party.

The video had been circulating online since Monday and already led to the firing of one of those who appears in it.

“It’s quite strong,” López Obrador said of the video, complaining that local television networks had underplayed it. “It shows the filth of the regime of corruption.”

Queretaro Gov. Francisco Domínguez said via Twitter Monday that he had immediately fired his private secretary, Guillermo Gutiérrez Badillo, after seeing the video. Domínguez said he had no knowledge about his aide's actions and encouraged him to co-operate with federal investigators. López Obrador was scheduled to visit Queretaro and meet Domínguez Wednesday.

Efforts to reach Gutiérrez by social media or via the governor's office were not immediately successful.

It wasn't clear when or where the video had been produced, or by whom, or what the money may have been for. A third person is heard in the video only as a distorted voice.

While presenting the video, López Obrador mentioned the investigation into the former head of Mexico’s state-run oil company, Emilio Lozoya. Lozoya is co-operating with the Attorney General’s Office and has filed his own complaint alleging that former President Enrique Peña Nieto and his finance secretary, Luis Videgaray, directed him to distribute millions of dollars in bribes from Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht.

Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero said last week that Lozoya had alleged he was directed to give bribes to six federal lawmakers, including five senators, to guarantee their votes for controversial energy reforms in 2013 and 2014.

Gertz also said that Lozoya included a video with his complaint and López Obrador said that it should be shared with the public along with Lozoya’s full statement.

But the president said he didn’t know if the new video was the one that Lozoya shared with investigators and an official in the Attorney General’s Office, who requested anonymity to discuss an open case, said it hadn't been presented to authorities by anyone as evidence of Lozoya’s allegations.

Lozoya was extradited from Spain in July after reaching an agreement with Mexico to co-operate with investigations into the company’s purchase of a ramshackle fertilizer plant at an elevated price and bribes allegedly paid by Odebrecht officials. He was captured in southern Spain in February after months on the run.

Once back in Mexico, he alleged to prosecutors that Peña Nieto and Videgaray directed him to pay foreign campaign consultants some $4 million of the Odebrecht bribes for Peña Nieto’s 2012 election campaign. Their Institutional Revolutionary Party retook the presidency that year after 12 years of National Action Party rule. Peña Nieto and Videgaray have not addressed the allegations since Gertz announced them last week.

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Associated Press writer E. Eduardo Castillo in Mexico City contributed to this report.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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