Lopez Obrador told supporters at a public rally that the days of having a “rich government with a poor population” had to end.
Over 1,400 judges and judicial branch workers around Mexico went on temporary strike Monday morning to protest the new president’s Federal Remuneration Act which seeks to cut judge salaries to well below what head of state Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) says is 600,000 pesos per month (over US$29,000).
The National Association of Judges (NAJ) and Judges of the Federal Judiciary, which includes some 1,410 magistrates, read the same letter of protest out loud from 30 Mexican courthouses across the country denying that they earn over US$29,000 per month as AMLO says, and that any reduction in their salaries represents “undue interference in the judicial branch by other state powers, which weakens ... democracy and violates the rule of law.”
Last week Mexico’s Supreme Court (SCJN) suspended AMLO’s new bill as it was being debated in the Senate which calls for reducing salaries of high-level officials in the public sector, including judges.
Lopez Obrador promised to fight rampant corruption, reduce inequality and end the privileges of the ruling class. The measure stipulates that no public servant can earn more than the president, who already cut his own salary to US$5,331.36 per month, 40 percent of what the previous head of state Enrique Peña Nieto earned each month during his six-year term.
NAJ leaders said that AMLO is “false” in saying that all judges earn more than US$29,000 per month.
President Lopez Obrador reiterated Monday that "the salaries of high public officials are inflated — they are offensive, particularly to those of the Judiciary. The change (in salary) is not offensive or unjust. …They are the best paid officials in the world."
Mexico’s secretary of the government says the highest judicial salary is 269,215 pesos per month (US$13,255).
At a press conference, the National Association of Circuit Magistrates and District Judges said that “weakening the system of checks and balances of our democracy violates the rule of law."
When the highest court suspended the salary bill, which stipulates that no official can earn more than the president, MORENA Senator Ricardo Monreal said that his party will challenge the Supreme Court’s decision.
Lopez Obrador won office by a landslide in July, helping to propel MORENA and its coalition allies to the first outright Congressional majority in Mexico since 1997.
After the court’s decision, Lopez Obrador told supporters at a public rally that the days of having a “rich government with a poor population” had to end.
“The guys on top have a great life,” he said. “Now they’re angry because they were earning 600,000 pesos a month. And that’s all over.”