“As soon as I am sworn in, I’ll ask for forgiveness from the victims,” Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s president-elect, said after listening to friends and relatives of missing people in a two-hour meeting in Mexico City. “There will be as much justice as I can offer as a human.”
“Do you want me to bow down before you?” said one mother who has been looking for her child for years. “Peña Nieto left a cemetery out of his country.”
People from across the country gathered at the Second Dialogue for Peace, Truth and Justice at the University Cultural Center of Tlatelolco on Friday, where they were able to directly address Mexico's next president.
Lopez Obrador said his government will serve the people, not minorities or white-collar criminals, and that he understands the pain of being separated from loved ones.
He also promised to welcome human rights organizations and international help to address the disappearances and murders that have become rife in Mexico since the start of the so-called 'war on drugs.' His team has already met with the United Naions and will “ask for support in everything related to transparency and human rights,” AMLO said.
“Let’s make it clear: I won’t be anyone’s cover-up. If a close public servant, a friend, a partner, a relative commits a crime, there will be punishment,” he said.
Economic resources to assist victims and carry out detailed investigations will be available after his administration dramatically cuts the salaries of public servants.
“Yesterday it was decided that no one will earn more than the president of the republic (in the government). I will earn 40 percent less than what Peña Nieto currently earns,” AMLO said.
The move is part of AMLO's 'Republican Austerity' plan, which aims to reduce government expenses by slashing public servants’ salaries and benefits.
He called for relatives of the missing to organize into committees so that they can meet periodically with him during his administration.
“Olga [future secretary of the interior] will always be with you and Alejandro Encinas, the next human rights subsecretary, will look after your just demands to find the missing ones and make justice for the victims,” AMLO said.
He also reaffirmed his offer to “forgive” criminals, but without giving further details, which provoked harsh criticism from many of those present: “I do forgive and I can be at odds with some because of that. I say no to forgetting, yes to forgiving… I respect those who say ‘neither forgetting nor forgiving’... my convictions are others and we can reach an agreement.”
Lopez Obrador will meet with the relatives of the missing 43 students from Ayotzinapa on September 26, the fourth anniversary of their disappearance. The relatives have said they will demand much more than a truth commission from him.