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Jun 18, 2024, 9:55am EDT
North America
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Semafor Signals

Mexico’s judiciary system may be about to get a radical overhaul

Insights from El Economista, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, and Bloomberg



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Claudia Sheinbaum
Henry Romero/Reuters
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The News

Mexico’s President-elect Claudia Sheibaum vowed to revamp the country’s judiciary system, following a proposal made by her predecessor and mentor, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

Sheinbaum appeared to take her cue from a poll that found almost 75% of Mexicans backed the idea. Under the proposal, all judges — including Supreme Court justices — would be elected.

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The reform is part of a package of constitutional changes to government oversight and watchdog agencies, as well as elections.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Electing judges could polarize the system

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Sources:  
El Economista, InfoBae, Ricardo Pascoe Pierce, Reforma

Electing judges could bring more political influence into judicial decisions, and potentially ferment polarization and, in turn, mistrust in the system, a columnist at El Economista wrote. By the same token, judges might be elected based on their politics, rather than their judicial acumen, an expert told InfoBae. The elections could also present drug cartels and other crime gangs a “golden opportunity” to finance judges’ campaigns, a former Mexican lawmaker said on X. “This is a catastrophic foolishness that progresses despite everyone knowing that it’s a catastrophic foolishness,” a political analyst wrote in Reforma.

Accusations of corruption already abound

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Sources:  
The Financial Times, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers

Mexico’s outgoing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has argued that judicial reform is necessary to fix the “rotten” system that is “dominated by corruption.” But such accusations by López Obrador have become so frequent as to be “systematic,” a United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers wrote on X and in a letter to the President. The potential “misuse” of government communications channels could “lead to harassment and abuse aimed at influencing judicial decisions,” she said, adding that “public accusations are not an effective way to fight corruption.”

Prospect of constitutional reform has rocked markets

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Sources:  
Reuters, Bloomberg, FXStreet

The Mexican peso had its biggest drop since the pandemic after Sheinbaum’s election, partly due to investor concern over her proposed slate of constitutional reforms, Bloomberg wrote. The peso lost almost 10% of its pre-election value in the two weeks after the vote, but appeared to plateau as Sheinbaum tried to reassure investors that the country’s economy is “healthy and strong,” FXStreet noted. But the tension has not dissipated. “The market was hoping that she would distance herself from President López Obrador,” an economist told Bloomberg. Investors have also worried that the new Mexican Congress, which comes into power in September, will push through laws before Sheinbaum assumes her role in October.

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