Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed on Monday that he would request a referendum to prosecute former presidents if citizens fail to collect the number of signatures needed to call for such a vote.
Former Mexican President Accused of Corruption and Bribery
Since August, activists from different political parties have been asking people to sign a petition to demand that former presidents Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Felipe Calderón, and Enrique Peña Nieto be judge over corruption charges.
Over 1.6 million signatures are required for the petition to move forward to the Union Congress and then advance to the National Electoral Institute to carry out the consultation in August 2021.
Nevertheless, thus far, only 800.000 signatures have been collected as the deadline closes on Tuesday. Hence, the president, also known as AMLO, said today that he would request the referendum since the law allows him to do so. López Obrador assured that he has a draft letter and he will send it to the Congress.
"I have information that citizens campaign to obtain the signatures. I want to recognize that they are good citizens, it is the right we have to put participatory democracy into practice," AMLO said.
"Republican austerity is doing more with less. Morning conference."
Mexico's constitution grants presidential immunity to individuals in such positions, although they can be prosecuted over treason against the Fatherland and severe crimes of the common order. Since last year AMLO's party has tried to modify Article 108, but the Senate has approved only slight changes.
Nonetheless, the accusations against corruption and bribery against former president Enrique Peña Nieto sparked the debate over presidential immunity. On August 12, 2020, Mexicos' Attorney General's Office released a video that denounces Peña Nieto's relationship with Brazilian construction company Odebretch and how it granted 100 million pesos to fund Nieto's campaign as well as hiring electoral advisers. Former director of Mexican state oil firm Pemex, Emilio Lozoya, made the revelations as he is also under inquiry.
If the referendum succeeds, for the first time in Mexico's history, there would be no presidential immunity. However, on August 24, AMLO announced that he would support the people's petition, although he assured that he would vote against it because he disapproves of the idea of "revenge against his predecessors." He does not want "to be an executioner."