Pressure mounts on PRI over its Mexico presidential election win
MEXICO CITY -- In an unusual union, Mexico's left and right came together Thursday to challenge the victory of President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto, alleging that his party financed its campaign in part with laundered money.
Gustavo Madero, president of the conservative National Action Party, which now occupies the presidency but got trounced in the July 1 vote, announced at a news conference that he had evidence of money laundering by Peña Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.
Sitting next to Madero was Jesus Zambrano, president of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, whose presidential candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, came in second. Madero and Zambrano said they would file their formal complaints jointly.
The PRI, in a communique, denied the allegations. It called them part of a "systematic use of lies" to discredit the party, mounted by "those who do not know how to lose."
Lopez Obrador, especially, has hurled almost daily accusations against the PRI involving vote buying, illegal overspending and money laundering in a long-shot bid to have the election annulled.
That is almost certainly not going to happen; still, the steady drumbeat has proved a serious distraction for the Peña Nieto team. The new president will be inaugurated Dec. 1.
It is rare for the right-wing PAN and the leftist PRD to agree on much of anything, but it is not unheard of. The two parties joined in governorship candidacies in 2010 in an effort to block PRI wins. The strange-bedfellow strategy succeeded in three states.
But their current common cause goes only so far. In contrast to the Lopez Obrador efforts, Madero and the PAN are not calling for the election to be annulled. They have said they respect the results and the electoral institutions that have validated them.
"Where we are united is the demand that these complaints be investigated and punished," Madero said.
At the heart of Lopez Obrador's claims is that illicit money was laundered through several sham companies formed by PRI supporters and then used to buy millions of dollars worth of prepaid debit cards that were given away to voters.
Peña Nieto's transition team held a news conference later Thursday, demanding that federal prosecutors investigate the "false and groundless" claims made by Lopez Obrador aimed at "defaming" the election winner. "There is no such laundered money," said team member Jesus Murillo Karam.
-- Tracy Wilkinson
Photo: Leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador shows a prepaid debit card during a news conference in Mexico City on Wednesday. The screen to the left refers to "new proof of money laundering." Credit: Eduardo Verdugo / Associated Press