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World Mexico to vote on whether former presidents should be subject to prosecution

03:51  01 august  2021
03:51  01 august  2021 Source:   latimes.com

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Mexicans will vote on whether to prosecute former officials. Is it transitional justice or political theater? Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador appears at a ceremony at the National Palace in Mexico City on July 1 to mark the third anniversary of his election victory. There’s little doubt that the country is in need of a dramatic judicial strengthening, beyond the question of high-level prosecutions . Only about 1.4 percent of crimes result in a suspect being brought before a judge, according to the Washington Office on Latin America. The country’s electoral commission has

The president of Mexico (Spanish: Presidente de México ), officially known as the president of the United Mexican States (Spanish: Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos)

Should former Mexican presidents be prosecuted for alleged crimes committed while in office?

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador wearing a suit and tie: Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, shown on election day in 2018, is championing a referendum on the prosecution of former presidents. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times) © Provided by The LA Times Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, shown on election day in 2018, is championing a referendum on the prosecution of former presidents. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

That is the question facing voters nationwide Sunday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador says.

It's a query of considerable political and moral gravity in a country where de facto impunity has long shielded politicians, especially former chiefs of state, from facing justice for corruption and other misconduct.

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The next issue — whether the former president is subject to prosecution in other jurisdictions — raises some interesting questions. Will Georgia prosecute him for possible violations of state law? If so, Garland might deem it unnecessary for the feds to address that potential crime. In sum, the decision to prosecute the ex- president for the Capitol attack might be controversial but not difficult. Once elements of the various crimes are established, there is indisputably a federal interest. Likewise, for the events leading to the Capitol attack, there is no alternative jurisdiction or remedy available for the Jan.

Similarly, some people wanted to prosecute President GW Bush for war crimes or similar charges based on the way he ordered some of his subordinates to interrogate alleged Al Qaeda terrorists, but the Obama administration took actions to prevent any such legal actions despite Obama’s firm The Supreme Court has decided that a sitting President can be sued over acts committed before his term. I think this ruling could be used to prosecute a sitting President for pre-term crimes. Acts committed as President can be grounds for impeachment, but are not available for criminal prosecution .

Even before a single vote has been cast, the exercise has devolved into a polemical shouting match between the president and his detractors.

López Obrador calls the vote a moral imperative. His critics call it a performative act of political theater and score-settling.

Moreover, the question facing the electorate is cloaked in so many ambiguities that it’s unclear what impact the vote will ultimately have.

López Obrador has long championed the referendum — technically a consulta, or consultation — casting it as a transcendent moment of people power.

“The people must always have the reins of power in their hands,” López Obrador told reporters Friday. “It’s very important that people realize that being in a representative democracy doesn’t mean that you only participate every three or every six years.”

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The former San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general said she wasn't dissuaded by the prospect of a former American president facing trial and a potential prison sentence. "The facts and the evidence will take the process where it leads," she said. “I do believe that we should believe Bob Second, we simply leave prosecution to the discretion of the next attorney general as to what if any charges are brought (only clear, unequivocal instances of obstruction should be considered), what sentence should be handed out and what plea deal might be arranged. We trust juries to do their job.

The question of whether former president Donald Trump can be convicted at an impeachment trial now that he has left office is likely to be settled by political muscle rather than the Constitution, which is murky on the matter and provides support for those on both sides of the issue, experts said Wednesday. Most who have studied the question think post- presidential impeachment, conviction and disqualification from holding future office is permitted, said Brian C. Kalt, a leading scholar on the subject . But it is far from unanimous because of ambiguous language in the Constitution.

Few disagree. But his opponents see the vote as a self-righteous ploy meant to exact revenge on longtime political adversaries and deflect attention from López Obrador’s many deficiencies: botching the pandemic response, failing to curb spiraling crime and overseeing a lackluster economy.

Former President Vicente Fox has called the vote a "farce" and urged people not to participate.

“It’s a waste of time,” concurred Arturo Macías López, 45, a geography teacher in the capital. “It’s all show ... one more distraction from López Obrador and his terrible governing.”

In fact, there is no current legal impediment barring prosecution of ex-presidents.

Luis Echeverría, who served as head of state from 1970 to 1976, was accused in 2006 of genocide stemming from a pair of massacres — one while he was president, the other when he was national security chief. Echeverría, now 99, was cleared in 2009.

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The question as to whether a sitting president can be prosecuted or not is an unsettled question in constitutional law, but the weight of scholarly opinion leans towards the opinion that the he CANNOT be prosecuted in ordinary criminal proceedings. Page on yale.edu. Note this only applies to criminal proceedings / arrests. SCOTUS unanimously ruled in Clinton v Jones that a sitting president can be sued and subject to a civil deposition while in office. The ensuing deposition was actually the subject of the perjury impeachment charge against Bill Clinton.

Finally, the historical evidence bearing on whether or not an implicit presidential immunity from judicial process was thought to exist at the time of the Founding was ultimately “ not conclusive.” privilege, the constitutional balance generally should favor the conclusion that a sitting President may not be subjected to indictment or criminal prosecution . Id. at 26. According to this argument, the possession of these powers by the President renders the criminal prosecution o f a sitting President inconsistent with the con­ stitutional structure.

Five other ex-presidents remain alive and could theoretically be subject to prosecution — as could López Obrador in the future. Posters of the five with red labels emblazoned across their faces reading “Fraud” and “Narco-government” have appeared across the country, though it is unclear who is financing the campaign.

Bombshell allegations tying three ex-presidents to corruption have emerged from Emilio Lozoya, a former chief of Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), the state energy behemoth, who was extradited to Mexico from Spain last year on bribery and other charges. But Lozoya’s allegations have yet to yield indictments against former leaders.

Sunday’s election is the latest plebiscite backed by López Obrador since he was elected in 2018 on an anticorruption platform. Other votes have sought citizen input on everything from a new airport to a tourist train megaproject to a new brewery. Turnout has been low, and critics have assailed the process as rigged. But in each instance, massive majorities backed the president’s position, allowing him to assert widespread acclaim for his policies.

Mexico to hold referendum on accountability of ex-presidents

  Mexico to hold referendum on accountability of ex-presidents MEXICO CITY (AP) — A referendum in Mexico on Sunday is going to cost Mexico about $25 million, few like the poorly written, yes-or-no question on the ballot, and the vote is being held in the middle of a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic. To top it off, critics say the referendum question is so obvious that it’s offensive to submit it to a vote. So why is Mexico holding a nationwide referendum on whether ex-presidents should be tried for their alleged crimes during their time in office, in Mexico City, Saturday, July 31, 2021.

Sunday’s vote is different and, at least in theory, more consequential. The task of organizing the vote has fallen not to the presidential loyalists but to the independent National Electoral Institute.

Most who take the trouble to cast ballots in the midst of a third wave of COVID-19 are expected to vote in favor of prosecuting ex-presidents. However, the results will be declared legally binding only if 40% of the country’s 93 million registered voters cast ballots. Turnout may not reach that threshold.

Opposition parties, while not calling for an outright boycott, have denounced the process as a sham and said they won’t participate. And electoral authorities say they have only enough funds to set up about one-third as many voting sites as there were in June’s midterm elections, in which 52% of eligible voters participated.

Then there’s the matter of the ballot question’s hazy wording, drafted in dense legalese by Mexico’s supreme court. The text doesn’t name any former presidents, doesn’t specify alleged crimes and doesn’t mention legal consequences. Rather, the 52-word question asks voters if authorities should begin “a process of clarification of political decisions taken in past years by political actors … to guarantee justice and rights of the possible victims.” Respondents are asked to mark "yes" or "no."

Mexico holds referendum on whether to probe ex-presidents

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The tortured phrasing has drawn comparisons to the twisted verbal gymnastics of Cantinflas, the late Mexican comedian known for his nonsensical discursive riffs, often mocking politicians and other figures of inflated grandiosity.

“Not even Cantinflas could explain this,” columnist Adrián Rueda wrote of the ballot question in Mexico’s Excelsior newspaper. “It’s so ambiguous that one doesn’t understand anything.”

There is no guarantee that passage will lead to prosecutions. Some say voters' approval could provide impetus for the creation of a national truth commission to investigate past crimes of state. But that is speculative.

Still, a lot of Mexicans get the point, even if they remain doubtful that any ex-president will ever be seen on trial.

“In this country, corruption and impunity have always ruled," said Laura Obregón, 67, a retiree in Mexico City who said she plans to vote yes on the ballot question.

Felipe Robledo, 49, one of the capital’s legions of taco vendors, is skeptical. He has no plans to vote. He vowed to offer his product free to all diners if a former Mexican president is carted off to the slammer.

“But that will never happen,” predicted Robledo. “You’ll never see a president in jail in this country, because they are all the same. They all cover up for each other.”

Sánchez is a special correspondent.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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usr: 1
This is interesting!