According to Bloomberg, key Mexico officials left the board of the nation’s central bank and the hydrocarbon regulator Wednesday amid growing concern that President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will meddle in bodies formerly insulated from politics — and cut the salaries of top bureaucrats.
The announcements arrived in swift succession: Juan Carlos Zepeda, who oversaw the country’s oil fields, quit after reports of pressure from incoming Energy Minister Rocio Nahle to leave. Minutes later came news that deputy Governor Roberto del Cueto, one of Banco de Mexico’s five board members who decide interest rates, will depart at the end of this month. The 68-year-old cited his health.
The man known universally by his initials will take office Dec. 1, and the Wednesday departures — whatever their motivation — come as many in the nation’s establishment worry they will be collateral damage as AMLO makes good on campaign promises to root out corruption, reduce violence and stop energy deals that aren’t good for the nation. A law that comes into effect in January will prohibit public-sector officials from earning more than the president’s salary of 108,000 pesos ($5,300) a month and many are leaving ahead of the change.
Del Cueto said in an interview with Bloomberg News that he decided to leave the bank earlier in the year on the recommendation of his doctor and told central bank Governor Alejandro Diaz de Leon and Finance Minister Jose Antonio Gonzalez Anaya about it at the time. He told Lopez Obrador’s transition team after the election that he would leave the central bank, and his salary had nothing to do with the decision, he said.
Zepeda denied reports that he was pressured to resign by Nahle.
“It’s an agreement that I arrived at with her,” Zepeda said Wednesday, noting that the decision followed meetings with Nahle in the National Hydrocarbons Commission, or CNH. “She has not put pressure on us. It has been very respectful.”
The resignations come after AMLO’s decision to cancel a $13 billion airport already one-third built and a push from within his party to eliminate bank fees sent the peso, stocks and bonds plummeting.