Mexican president owns no cars or real estate, but his wife does

Mexico's new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador holds a news conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico December 3, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 05 January 2019
0

Mexican president owns no cars or real estate, but his wife does

  • Under a new national anti-corruption system, federal, state and local officials will soon be required to submit detailed disclosures about their income and assets, as well as those of their families

MEXICO CITY: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday he owns no real estate, vehicles or personal property, echoing what experts say is a pattern among the country’s politicians of shifting assets to relatives.
Lopez Obrador, who took office in December, told a regular news conference his family’s cars and home are in his wife’s name.
The veteran leftist won a landslide victory in July after a campaign centered on rooting out corruption in Mexico, which experts say is among the worst in Latin America. Heg cuts an austere figure, ditching the presidential residence, flying coach and driving a white Volkswagen Jetta.
Transparency advocates welcome Lopez Obrador’s disclosure after battling to get members of his predecessor Enrique Pena Nieto’s administration to open up about their finances, said Alexandra Zapata of the Mexican Institution for Competitiveness (IMCO), a think-tank that promotes good governance and fighting corruption.
But his declaration raised as many questions about his wealth as it answered, she added.
“The president, in an effort to send this message of austerity, loses credibility in how he talks about his property, his assets and his interests,” said Zapata, who is the group’s director of education and civic innovation.
Lopez Obrador disclosed monthly net income of 108,744 pesos ($5,600) from his government work and savings worth 446,068 pesos.
In addition to real estate and vehicles, Lopez Obrador’s personal possessions and household goods, including works of art and other valuable objects, were disclosed in his wife’s name, a spokesman for the president’s office said.
Mexican politicians have long been accused of obscuring their wealth by registering assets under relatives’ names. Those who absorb the assets are sometimes referred to as “prestanombres,” or people who lend their names.
Lopez Obrador has slashed salaries for public officials, including his own, and stressed on Friday that others in his administration would be required to declare their assets, too.
The president said during the news conference that his principal asset had been a property in the southern state of Chiapas, which he inherited from his parents and is now registered under his children’s names.
“Money has never interested me,” he said. “I fight for ideals, for principles.”
Under a new national anti-corruption system, federal, state and local officials will soon be required to submit detailed disclosures about their income and assets, as well as those of their families. Lopez Obrador has long cast himself as a man of the people in a poor country. During the news conference, he said he has no credit card, a common refrain in his speeches. Just 37 percent of Mexicans had an account with a bank or other type of financial institution in 2017, according to a World Bank study of people over 15 years old.
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox, who backed another candidate in the election, criticized the disclosure.
“Only his grandmother could believe this,” Fox wrote in a post on Twitter. “Wake up, Mexico!!!“
($1 = 19.4200 Mexican pesos)


Report raises fresh doubts over Trump’s NATO commitment

Updated 16 January 2019
0

Report raises fresh doubts over Trump’s NATO commitment

  • Last year, Trump repeatedly told senior officials that he did not see the point of NATO
  • Before taking office, Trump called NATO “obsolete”

WASHINGTON: Fresh doubts surfaced Tuesday over President Donald Trump’s commitment to NATO, after he was reported to have discussed a desire to pull out of the trans-Atlantic military alliance.
Last year, Trump repeatedly told senior officials that he did not see the point of NATO — the historic alliance that forms the backbone of the West’s post-World War II security order — and that he wanted to withdraw, The New York Times reported.
He has often blasted members of the 29-nation partnership for not paying more into their national defense budgets.
Before taking office, Trump called NATO “obsolete” and soon after a tumultuous summit in July, he questioned whether the US would honor the alliance’s founding principle of mutual defense for newest member Montenegro.
Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman, said the US remains “100 percent” committed to NATO.
At the summit the president said the US “commitment to NATO is very strong” and “tremendous progress has been made” by allies and partners.
“That has not changed,” Pahon said in a statement.
“NATO remains the cornerstone of transatlantic security.”
In Brussels, a NATO official also highlighted Trump’s comments from the July summit.
“The United States is strongly committed to NATO and to transatlantic security,” the official told AFP.
“The US has significantly boosted its commitment to the defense of Europe, including with increased troop commitments.”
Turning 70 this year, NATO has underpinned Western security in Europe for decades, first countering the Soviet Union and then Russian expansionism.
A US withdrawal from NATO would be a strategic gift of epic proportions to Russia, which is accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential elections to help Trump win.
Former defense secretary Jim Mattis was a staunch proponent of NATO and repeatedly visited its Brussels headquarters, where he sought to reassure allies about America’s commitment to the alliance.
But Mattis quit last month, and observers see a shrinking coterie of advisers around Trump willing to push back against him.
The US Congress, including Trump’s own Republican Party, would likely push back against any effort to withdraw from NATO.
The only country to have ever invoke Article 5, NATO’s collective defense principle, was America following the September 11, 2001 attacks.