A senator from Mexico’s opposition National Action Party (PAN) proposed on December 7 several amendments to the country’s constitution that would allow for the president to be accused of corruption and other crimes, opening up the possibility of political trial, according a statement from the Mexican Senate (link in Spanish).
Senator Juan Carlos Romero Hicks said the amendments would help bring about an end to impunity and immunity in Mexico, where corruption is endemic. The country ranks 123 of 176 for corruption, according to NGO Transparency International.
Romero Hicks’s proposals would allow for sitting presidents to be charged and would extend as far as three years after their term ended. Romero said: “Never again must a subordinate exonerate their boss”.
In an interview with Carmen Aristegui, one of Mexico’s leading journalists, Romero Hicks explained that under the current system the president can only be “charged with state treason or other serious infringements of the general order” (Aristegui Noticias, in Spanish).
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration has been rocked by several scandals, as illustrated by this story in The Economist. In August 2015, Mexico’s former top anti-corruption official exonerated the president, the president’s wife, and the president’s finance minister of any wrongdoing over an alleged conflict-of-interest scandal (The Guardian).
Virgilio Andrade Martínez, the former federal comptroller, was appointed by Peña Nieto to lead the investigation in February 2015 (Animal Político in Spanish). The controversial six-month investigation provoked a backlash among Mexicans, who punished Peña Nieto’s Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) at the following regional elections. In 2016, Andrade Martinez resigned just hours before an anti-graft legislation came into effect.
A Pew Research Center report published on August 2015 informed that just 27 percent of Mexicans believe that the President is really tackling corruption in the country.