AMLO backers dispute Mexico fining his party for quake trust
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Supporters of President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Saturday hauled out dozens of boxes filled with documents that they said should dispel accusations his party used earthquake aid to finance political campaigns and buy votes.
Mexico’s electoral authority fined the Morena party $10 million this week, saying the creation of a trust by party members to help victims of last year’s earthquakes violated rules against political parties handing money to voters.
“We have absolutely nothing to hide,” said Pedro Miguel, president of the trust and a journalist who describes himself as a defender of the downtrodden.
Miguel called the electoral authority’s decision an effort to paint the Morena party as corrupt.
Mexico was hit by two strong earthquakes last September that killed hundreds and leveled entire buildings in the capital and several states.
Electoral officials said the trust represented “parallel financing” via funds of unknown origin. They also questioned why party members withdrew the funds.
Miguel said people affiliated with the party withdrew money so the aid could be distributed in cash, for the sake of efficiency. Some victims were in rural areas far from banks. Others had received assistance like food but needed money for immediate needs like deposits on alternate housing.
He said hundreds of volunteers delivered $125 cash payments, while thousands of recipients posed for photos next to damaged buildings and provided copies of their voter registration cards. Those photos and other supporting documents filled the boxes before him.
Lopez Obrador won the presidency in a landslide victory July 1 after a campaign in which he promised to stamp out corruption, foster economic equality and stem rampant violence in a country where nearly half the people are poor. He earlier called the electoral institution’s fine a “vile vengeance” against the change and government austerity that he promises.
Miguel said people who responded to Lopez Obrador’s appeal for donations gave money voluntarily out of a desire to help. Party members as well as private sector donors contributed more than $4.4 million to the fund.