Mexican president accuses US of interference over funding for NGOs

  • Diplomatic note sent ahead of meeting with Kamala Harris
  • Anti-corruption and press freedom groups draw official ire

Mexico’s populist president has accused the United States of undue interference in the country’s internal affairs just before a virtual meeting with the US vice-president, Kamala Harris, which was expected to focus on slowing Central American migration.

Speaking at his morning press conference on Friday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador called it “reprehensible” that the US government would fund a prominent anti-corruption group and the press freedom organization Article 19, whose work was cited in the state department’s annual human rights report on Mexico.

“It’s interference, it’s interventionism, it’s promoting coup-plotters,” said López Obrador, who announced that Mexico had filed a formal protest with the US embassy.

The president, known as Amlo, said a diplomatic note was sent because of US backing for Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI), which he has alleged is seeking to undermine his government.

“The financing of [this] group by the US government, is an act of interventionism, which violates our sovereignty,” he alleged. “That’s why we’re asking for them to clarify this, because it’s a foreign government.”

The note asked the US embassy to confirm if MCCI received financial support from the US Agency for International Development – and if so, to suspend it.

The president said he did not plan to raise the issue with Harris, saying that the meeting would focus on immigration.

Amlo has repeatedly employed conspiratorial language to describe the work of civil society organisations – including left-leaning groups with long histories of fighting human rights abuses.

MCCI – whose founder Claudio X González has a history of opposing Amlo – said in a series of tweets that its work was “legal” and the criticism showed a “serious misunderstanding” of international corruption.

A government spokesman, Jesús Ramírez Cuevas, previously accused MCCI of accepting funding from foreign foundations to undermine a railway Amlo’s administration is building around the Yucatán peninsula known as the Train Maya – something MCCI denied.

Article 19 responded by pointing out that aggressions against the press had increased by 13.6% in 2020 – Amlo’s second year in office.

“The [president’s] discourse is repeated in all levels of government and acts as a distraction mechanism in the face of its inability to respond to violence against the press and resolve [Mexico’s] human rights crisis,” Article 19 said. “It also ignores its effects in the lives of victims and society and contributes to distrust in institutions.”

Critics pointed out Amlo’s own interior ministry recently signed an agreement with USAid on human rights issues, while MCCI published investigations into graft before Amlo successfully ran for election in 2018, casting himself as an anti-corruption crusader.


David Agren in Mexico City

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Mexican president under fire for defending politician accused of rape
Amlo again clashes with women’s rights activists as he dismisses complaints against Félix Salgado Macedonio, candidate for governor

David Agren in Mexico City

24, Feb, 2021 @11:00 AM

Article image
Mexican presidential candidate accuses government of spying on him
Ricardo Anaya alleges surveillance is part of pattern of espionage against Enrique Peña Nieto’s opponents

David Agren in Mexico City

14, Feb, 2018 @1:01 AM

Article image
Funding cuts threaten ancient sites, warn Mexican archaeologists
Sharp reduction in heritage body’s budget is part of wider savings due to Covid-19 costs

Laurence Blair

23, Jun, 2020 @10:00 AM

Article image
Mexican press freedom dispute erupts as Amlo attacks US and domestic critics
President hits back over critical US human rights report but also singles out Mexican press freedom group Article 19 for censure

David Agren in Mexico City

01, Apr, 2021 @8:12 PM

Article image
Mexican president says he ordered release of El Chapo's son
Ovidio Guzmán was briefly captured in October only to be let go hours later as security was overwhelmed by cartel forces

Guardian staff and agencies in Mexico City

19, Jun, 2020 @9:35 PM

Article image
'He's Mr Scrooge': Mexican president unveils severe cuts amid coronavirus
Andrés Manuel López Obrador compared to Reagan and Thatcher after introducing new severe austerity measures

David Agren in Mexico City

24, Apr, 2020 @11:30 AM

Article image
Mexican president ignores coronavirus restrictions to greet El Chapo's mother
Andrés Manuel López Obrador provokes perplexity and scorn with visit to drug lord’s home town in Sinaloa

Tom Phillips, Latin America correspondent

30, Mar, 2020 @2:21 PM

Article image
Mexico president rebuked for careless response to Covid after testing positive
Andrés Manuel López Obrador tests positive day after saying crisis nearing the end and ‘little lights’ at end of tunnel could be seen

David Agren in Mexico City

25, Jan, 2021 @6:47 PM

Article image
Mexican president Amlo calls on Bolivia to stop harassing diplomats
Comments further stoked diplomatic row between Mexico and Bolivia, which has descended into personal insults

David Agren

27, Dec, 2019 @11:03 PM

Article image
A Mexican tragedy: country's crippling Covid crisis comes into sharp focus
Adriana Mejía lost half her family in just 83 days – now a huge death toll of 294,000 is being quietly acknowledged

Analy Nuño in Guadalajara and Tom Phillips Latin America correspondent

03, Apr, 2021 @6:00 AM