After Senator Bob Menendez, ranking Democrat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sharply criticized Attorney General William Barr for "pushing impunity to the highest levels in Mexico" with the release of former Mexican Secretary of Defense General Salvador Cienfuegos, two influential latino congressmen addressed the issue on Thursday. They called for justice to prevail and for Mexico to investigate the accusations against the former Defense Secretary, whose charges related to money laundering and drug trafficking were dropped at the request of the Justice Department.
In a letter sent to Mexican Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero, Congressmen Albio Sires, chairman of the Western Hemisphere subcommittee, and Vicente Gonzalez, said the L√≥pez Obrador government has an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to fighting corruption.
"President Andr√©s Manuel L√≥pez Obrador has assured that Mexico's main problem is corruption. He has also said that under his administration the Mexican government will not cover up for anyone," the letter says.
And they add: "His office has now a unique opportunity to demonstrate the commitment of the entire government to support President L√≥pez Obrador's comments to ensure that the case against Salvador Cienfuegos is fully investigated and prosecuted to its conclusion without interference.
The Democrats made it clear to Attorney General Gertz that the purpose of the document is to express an interest "in seeing justice prevail in the case of drug trafficking against General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda.
AMLO denies having threatened to expel the DEA for the Cienfuegos case: "It was arranged through diplomatic channels".
"We are with the Mexican people who are waiting for the institutions of their government to do justice. We remain committed to working with the Mexican Government to strengthen cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico and to ensure sustained progress in the fight against corruption and impunity," the letter states.
The letter adds pressure on Gertz Manero, whose office has made a commitment, as expressed by Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard and the President himself, to continue the investigation against Cienfuegos, assuring that there will be no impunity.
However, and beyond the pressure that the Mexican Armed Forces will continue to exert to protect their former chief, what is certain is that today at the security cabinet meeting in the National Palace everyone agreed that the evidence against Cienfuegos sent by the Justice Department consists of alleged audios between the general and alleged members of the Beltr√°n Leyva cartel, all of which were illegally intercepted by the DEA, which is why prosecuting the case with the evidence from the original investigation file is almost out of the question.
In order to follow up on the U.S. allegations in Mexico, it would be necessary to redo the investigation from scratch, something that would demand dedication and political determination that could prove overwhelming for the L√≥pez Obrador administration.
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