The statement of the former CEO of Pemex Emilio Lozoya before a Mexican prosecutor is one of the few clear pieces of evidence that shows the systemic corruption that has plagued that country in recent years, especially during the government of Enrique Peña Nieto. The promise to fight and end that system brought Andrés Manuel López Obrador to power, who now has before him the opportunity, but above all the duty, to comply with what has been said and not only use the case of Lozoya as a weapon against his rivals.
The former director of Pemex was arrested in Spain and accepted extradition after reaching an agreement to become a collaborating witness for the Mexican justice system. He has admitted receiving eight million dollars in bribes for Peña Nieto's presidential campaign and paying 8.6 million dollars to legislators to pass a package of reforms, including opening up the energy sector. Lozoya involves 17 politicians, including three former presidents — in addition to Peña Nieto, Felipe Calderón, and Carlos Salinas de Gortari — presidential candidates, ministers, and deputies. To all, who appear in the statement with names, surnames and all kinds of details, he accuses them of accepting large amounts of money.
López Obrador celebrates seeing all his political enemies involved in the same scandal. The appearance last week of a video of his brother receiving cash for his campaign has not changed his speech on the breakdown of the governments that preceded him. Despite everything, the Mexican president has said that he does not want to judge his predecessor or any other president. The president even flirts with the idea of submitting to a popular consultation the possibility of putting former presidents on the bench.
This case will show how far López Obrador wants to take the anti-corruption crusade, even more so when next year elections will be held to renew the Chamber of Deputies and 15 of the 32 states. Also, to what extent the Prosecutor's Office is independent of the legislative power, something so far chimerical in Mexico.
While all of Lozoya's accusations are being proven, the confessions of the former Pemex director underpin the López Obrador narrative. The president believes that it is enough to stigmatize the corrupt to prevent cases like these from recurring. A political use of Lozoya's declaration would wreck a uniquely valuable opportunity. Never before has a repentant stepped forward to put the Administration in which he participated in check. This would break the pact of silence that underpins Mexican politics. The country needs more than the truth. It is time for justice to do its job without interference from political power.