Mexican president’s dislike of oversight sparks resignations

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s campaign against external oversight agencies reached a new level Friday with the resignation of the head of the federal anti-discrimination comission and the president’s vow to abolish dozens of such offices.

López Obrador vowed Friday to abolish or restructure the Energy Regulatory Commission and as many as 100 other oversight and regulatory agencies he views as wasteful. He has publicly stated that he distrusts non-governmental and civic groups, and apparently resents anyone sitting in judgement of his administration.

“We are going to make administrative changes,” López Obrador said. “We will study them, but there are hundreds, without doubt more than 100 of these independent, autonomous organizations.”

The watchdog groups were created by López Obrador’s predecessors, often to regulate areas that were once state-dominated, like the oil and electricity industries. Those sectors were opened to private competition, something López Obrador also disagrees with.

López Obrador’s administration had been publicly feuding with Mónica Maccise, who resigned Friday as head of the National Comission to Prevent Discrimination.

The feud broke out after an invitation to a panel discussion on discrimination was sent to YouTube presenter Chumel Torres, who had earlier referred to López Obrador’s son, Jesús Ernesto, as a “chocolate flan” for his blond-tipped hairstyle.

First Lady Beatriz Gutierrez stepped into the fray, publicly criticizing both Torres and the commission for the invitation.

Speaking of Maccise’s resignation, the president said,“The most honest thing to do is not to hold a post in a government whose goals you don’t agree with … I think they should not have invited people to that panel who do not agree with the policy of transformation.” López Obrador often refers to his administration as “a historic transformation” of Mexico.

López Obrador said Friday he favored abolishing the anti-discrimination agency as a separate entity and rolling it into the Interior Department.

The head of the crime victim’s office is also stepped down Friday after her office’s budget was cut so deeply it was left without money to pay utility bills. The office is charged with giving advice, legal support and stipends to crime victims and their relatives.

The president has publicly stated that he distrusts non-governmental and civic groups.

“There is another term that has become stylish, non-governmental organizations, and then we find out they lived off government money,” López Obrador said Friday.

Analysts say the campaign combines López Obrador’s almost-religious belief in the moral purity of his administration, his dislike of outside oversight, his deep desire for austerity and his dislike of private-sector involvement in public policy.

“He doesn’t like autonomous institutions, and he wants to concentrate (control of) everything,” said Sara Lovera, the director of the Mexican Women’s News Service, who has disagreed with López Obrador in the past over cuts to women’s services.

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