Mexican environment minister resigns after critique

International

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced the resignation of his environment minister Wednesday, nearly a month after a leaked recording showed that cabinet member criticizing the president’s administration.

López Obrador said Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Victor Manuel Toledo had been considering quitting even before the leaked recording, which clearly showed he was unhappy with the administration’s direction on environmental issues.

“Public service produces stress” and “not all of us are made to support the pressure,” López Obrador said.

In the audio recording that circulated on social media last month, a person who appears to be Toledo complained that other Cabinet secretaries have blocked efforts to protect the environment and were promoting the interests of farming and mining industries.

“We’re trying at Semarnat (the environmental agency), but we are not in a government that is totally on our side,” he said, adding that the administration “is a government of brutal contradictions.”

López Obrador has begun more aggressively attacking environmental groups that oppose some of his signature projects, including a new oil refinery and a tourist train that would circle the Yucatan Peninsula. He has shown little appreciation for environmental protection and has been criticized for speaking out against renewable energy projects while trying to prop up Mexico’s heavily indebted state-run oil company.

This week he attacked environmental groups as being funded by foreign interests and in his state-of-the-nation address Tuesday dismissed environmentalists as “pseudoecologists.”

He was more kind with Toledo, who he said was Mexico’s most important ecologist.

María Luisa Albores, currently the welfare minister, will take Toledo’s place.

Toledo’s exit follows that of Transportation Secretary Javier Jiménez Espriú, who resigned after López Obrador gave control of the nation’s ports to the navy.

Toledo himself was López Obrador’s second environment minister. He replaced Josefa González-Blanco Ortiz Mena, who resigned in a scandal after she tried to hold a commercial flight so she could make it.

In 2019, López Obrador’s first treasury secretary, Carlos Urzúa, resigned over disagreements with others in the administration.

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