While the Chamber approved the extinction of 109 trust that financed science, culture and the protection of victims, resources for Defense have increased more than ever
At the doors of the Chamber of Deputies, a group of dozens of researchers and human rights defenders put their hands to their heads last Tuesday. The legislators had approved the extinction of 109 trusts with which a trail of public institutions dedicated to the scientific, cultural and sports development of the country was financed. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador celebrated the measure that seeks to recover income urgently to balance the budget for the year in a context of economic recession exacerbated by the pandemic. Untouchable funds remained off the list, which not only have not been affected by the cuts, but have also benefited the most during this government: reserves for the Army.
The Ministry of Defense (Sedena) has four trusts with 31,980 million pesos (about 1,500 million dollars) available for the purchase of military equipment (which has more than 90% of that bag), retirement assets, pensions and compensation, subsidies to the children of the personnel of the Presidential General Staff and relatives of soldiers who died in high-risk missions. None of these funds, which are also governed by the scheme that the president has indicated as “opaque and corrupt” has been touched. In fact, no government had previously financed the Army with this amount of resources.
An investigation by Mexicanos Contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad (Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity) has revealed that the resources allocated to the Army went from about 4,000 to 5,000 million pesos – during the six-year terms of Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto – to more than 30,000 million in the middle of this year. with the Government of López Obrador. This is one of the highest amounts of public trusts that this Administration has not eliminated, according to the accounts of the Ministry of Finance. And the sum has reached the budget stabilization fund, the state savings, which was reduced at the end of last year to plug the spending holes and compensate for the ambitious social and infrastructure programs of the López Obrador government.
“The serious thing about all this is that we observe how at the end of 2019 we burn our savings and deliver a bag of resources to the Army. And with the increase, their margin of independence and autonomy increases, because instead of the resources being returned to the Treasury, thanks to the trust they maintain control ”, explains the association’s researcher, Leonardo Núñez. The Government’s strategy for the elimination of the 109 trusts was, in addition to recovering the 68,000 million pesos of these items (more than 3,000 million dollars), to grant the Treasury the power to distribute those resources next year. Something that has not happened with the Army trust, which accounts for almost half of the total amount collected.
Of these four trusts, the one for the purchase of military equipment is particularly striking, since it has 30,193 million pesos, almost the total of all that Sedena receives. A fund that, according to a report by the Superior Auditor of the Federation, was used in 2012 for very different purposes, such as aircraft maintenance, the expansion of a parking lot, as well as to prevent surpluses from being returned to the Treasury. The body concludes in its report that the fund “lacks formal procedures that regulate the registration, control, and monitoring of resources.”
The opacity of the Army has been evidenced on other occasions, such as the concession to build the Santa Lucía Airport, under the order of the president, of which no data has been made public to date and any information protected in the national security appeal. The president pointed out in his press conference on Wednesday that “those who are defending the trusts are defending corruption.” But he has not explained, however, why one of the funds with more public resources remains, which has also been indicted by the Audit.
The same detractors of the elimination of the 109 funds They recognize that not all trusts functioned in a transparent and regulated manner. “But in the case of the Sedena trusts, which are excluded from the list of those eliminated, it shows the enormous discretion of the president to decide which ones are and which ones are not, without carrying out a more detailed analysis”, explains José Roldán Xopa, a professor in Administrative Law and researcher at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE), one of the institutions affected by the disappearance of funds. “There is an inverse logic to what should be given because to make such important decisions you have to know and then decide. Here it is happening the other way around. That is the risk of making decisions on the knees, little thought out, where prejudices are more important than reasoned decisions, ”adds Xopa.
The deputy of the Citizen Movement, Martha Tagle, pointed directly to the Army fund in the middle of the controversy over the disappearance of the 109 trusts. “It seems terrible to me. They prefer to eliminate the funds that attend to the situation of human rights victims, which was precisely because of this war. We have a large number of victims, disappeared, of extrajudicial executions … And it is incredible that these victims are unprotected and on the other hand, the Sedena is respected ”, denounces the deputy in an interview with this newspaper.