RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Journalist Mario Maldonado offers in a new book a close look at the “betrayal” of Emilio Lozoya, former head of Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and main defendant in the Odebrecht bribery scheme in the country.
“Lozoya, the traitor” is a work containing interviews with friends, relatives, officials, and the first circle of the Pemex director from 2012-2016, the author explained this Saturday, April 24, in an interview with Efe; he warns that it is “the case that puts at risk the anti-corruption crusade of the 4T” or the Fourth Transformation, as the current government is known.
“I tried to describe a lot this character who represents a generation of politicians with studies abroad, very well prepared, with political, economic and financial relations around the world which, however, failed the country, committed the worst betrayal,” he said.
A HISTORY OF BETRAYAL
Maldonado was one of the last journalists to interview Lozoya in 2017, a year after concluding his administration at Pemex during the Presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018) before the arrival to power of Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
After Lozoya’s arrest on February 12, 2020, and his subsequent July 17 extradition to Mexico, where he is accused of receiving US$10.5 million from Odebrecht for Peña Nieto’s campaign.
The “story of betrayal” occurs when Lozoya denounces the former president and Luis Videgaray, the ex-secretary of Finance and Foreign Affairs, to take advantage of the opportunity for a plea bargain with the Prosecutor General’s Office (FGR) and avoid jail time.
“He accepts to betray not only his friends but 70 officials. This is something unprecedented in Mexican politics that a former political official denounces in detail the whole corruption scheme developed in the last six years,” mentions Maldonado.
Lozoya, he considers, also did it to “favor the current Government”, by mentioning in his denunciation former presidents who were rivals of López Obrador, such as Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994) and Felipe Calderón (2006-2012).
He also accused former senators of the right-wing National Action Party (PAN) of receiving bribes to vote for the 2013 energy reform that opened the sector to the private sector, one of the measures most questioned by the current president.
“Lozoya enters the game of this government, starts dropping names left and right, and betrays everyone,” Maldonado points out.
THE YOUNG WONDER
Beyond what is known, Maldonado offers chapters such as “La cuna de oro”, “La enemistad con Videgaray” and “Extorsiones y sueños presidenciales” that show a haughty man who felt superior to other politicians because of his studies and origin.
“Emilio Lozoya arrived at Pemex when he was 37 years old, he was this brilliant young man, a young wonder who could really take Pemex to development and he ended up being worse himself and his generation than the politicians of yesteryear,” he details.
In the end, observes the author, “Lozoya did not even take care of his family” as he recalls that his wife Marielle Helene Eckes is accused of complicity, as is his sister Gilda Susana and his mother, Gilda Austin, who was detained for 100 days after her arrest in July 2019 in Germany.
FAILED ANTI-CORRUPTION CRUSADE
The journalist concludes with a warning about the politicization of the Odebrecht case in Mexico, where there is not even one judicial sentencing, unlike countries such as Brazil and Peru.
“It leaves us in a terrible position in terms of justice, in terms of really fighting corruption. The last six-year term was one of the most corrupt in Mexico’s history, and in this one, there is also too much corruption and, on top of it all, an inability to prosecute cases,” he says.
So far, he points out, only former PAN senator Jorge Luis Lavalle has been in prison, since April 9, two months before the June 6 legislative elections.
Meanwhile, the former owner of Altos Hornos de México (AHMSA), Alonso Ancira, was released on Monday after agreeing to pay US$216.6 million for the fraudulent sale of a scrap fertilizer plant to Pemex, when Lozoya was director.
“It could have been an emblematic case of how corruption is fought and justice is done in Mexico by the new government, and it was quite the opposite, a case that politicized, was mediatized, was used in favor of the government, and that put the anti-corruption crusade at risk and in question,” he concludes.