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

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)


India blocks SMS services in Kashmir after trucker killed

Updated 15 October 2019

India blocks SMS services in Kashmir after trucker killed

  • Security sources said the decision to cut text messaging services was taken to reduce the ability of militants to communicate
  • Indian authorities had only restored call and text services for mobile phones

SRINAGAR: Text messaging services were blocked in Indian Kashmir just hours after being restored when a truck driver was killed by suspected militants and his vehicle set ablaze, authorities said Tuesday.
Separately Indian officials said that a 24-year-old woman died in the latest exchange of artillery fire with Pakistan over their de-facto border dividing the blood-soaked Himalayan region.
Security sources said the decision to cut text messaging services was taken to reduce the ability of militants to communicate.
Indian authorities had only restored call and text services for mobile phones on Monday, following a 72-day blackout in the restive northern territory imposed after New Delhi scrapped the region's semi-autonomous status.
The seven million-plus people of the Kashmir Valley — the main hotbed of resistance to Indian rule — are still cut off from the Internet, however.
Authorities said SMS services were cut again on Monday night following the attack on the driver of a truck carrying apples in Shopian.
Residents said two masked gunmen told the driver to use his truck to block the road, but it skidded and got stuck.
“The gunmen then fired at the truck and set it on fire,” a witness told AFP.
Apples are a sensitive issue in Kashmir, which exports vast quantities of the fruit to markets across India.
Many orchard owners say they are refusing to harvest this year to protest against the government’s move to scrap Kashmir’s autonomy.
Indian authorities say that militants — backed by arch-rival Pakistan — have been intimidating farmers and businessmen.
The latest death from Pakistani artillery fire over the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir brings the number of fatalities on the Indian side to three in the past four days, the Press Trust of India reported.
Two Indian soldiers were killed in two separate incidents on Friday and Sunday, PTI said. It was unclear if there were any fatalities from Indian fire on the Pakistani side.
Also on Tuesday, police arrested 13 women activists in Srinagar after they staged a protest calling for civil liberties and the release of detainees.
The women, wearing black armbands, were arrested for “breaching the peace” and for a contravening a ban in place since early August on public gatherings of more than four people, police said.
They included the sister and daughter of former chief minister Farooq Abdullah, one of several hundred local politicians, lawyers and others in custody since early August, mostly without charge.
Abdullah, 81, was formally arrested in mid-September under the highly contentious Public Safety Act (PSA) that allows someone to be held for up to two years without charge, and which has been used widely in Kashmir in recent years.
Rebels have been fighting for three decades some 500,000 Indian soldiers deployed in the territory, demanding independence or to join Pakistan which also controls part of the region and, like India, claims it in full.