MEXICO CITY – A video showing a Mexican lawmaker allegedly accepting money for leftist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has caused a political firestorm, prompting calls for an investigation and denials from those involved.
The Mexico City daily El Universal published images from the video on Monday showing Veracruz state legislator Eva Cadena, of the leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena), accepting a payment of 500,000 pesos ($26,500) allegedly intended for Lopez Obrador, the party’s founder and a leading contender for the presidency in 2018.
“What is shown on the video is extremely serious evidence of the corruption that hurts all Mexicans; it constitutes clear and solid evidence that Lopez Obrador is corrupt,” the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) said in a statement.
Conservative National Action Party (PAN) gubernatorial candidate in Mexico state Josefina Vazquez Mota, for her part, ripped Lopez Obrador, saying that the video showed that trust and honesty were just part of his rhetoric.
Cadena, who is running for mayor of Las Choapas, Veracruz, posted an apology on her Facebook page, acknowledging that she made a mistake and contending she was snared in a “very cowardly” scheme to smear Lopez Obrador.
The state lawmaker said the money “was a donation for the movement,” but she “decided to return” the funds after concluding that the contribution should not have been made in cash.
Lopez Obrador, a former Mexico City mayor and two-time presidential candidate, said in a video released on social media that Cadena was the victim of a set-up to discredit him because “Morena is growing a lot.”
The leftist politician said the video was part of a smear campaign orchestrated by former Presidents Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderon.
“They can steal the presidency from me, like they’ve already done, they can take away all my triumphs, but they can’t take my dignity, my honesty,” Lopez Obrador said.
Lopez Obrador barely lost the 2006 presidential election to Calderon and blamed his second-place finish in the 2012 vote on corrupt practices by the victorious PRI.