EL UNIVERSAL fights for free speech and transparency

EL UNIVERSAL has been involved in a legal dispute after revealing the assets owned by Ricardo Anaya

EL UNIVERSAL fights for free speech and transparency
Supreme Court minister Luis María Aguilar Morales insists on proposing projects that affect the media - Photo: Germán Espinosa/EL UNIERSAL
English 24/02/2020 09:59 Mexico City Editorial Actualizada 10:07
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As people know, EL UNIVERSAL has been involved in a legal dispute since 2018, after it revealed some of the propertiesand assets owned by the former presidential candidate Ricardo Anaya. In time, the case made it to the Supreme Court, where ministers, on two separate occasions, have sided with this newspaper and favored free speech.

Nevertheless, minister Luis María Aguilar Morales insists on proposing projects that affect media outlets that dare to reveal information politicians would rather keep in the dark. He did it once again on February 20, disregarding the fact that all the ministers voted against his proposal last time. So far, he has proposed similar projects three times and each one becomes more aggressive.

There is a reason behind the minister’s insistence: In April 2019, EL UNIVERSAL published a report issued by the Council of the Federal Judiciary (CJF), where it is revealed that during the administration led by Aguilar Morales, the construction of a Federal Penal Justice Center was authorized, even when it puts the CJF at risk of facing a lawsuit for irrecoverable expenditures. According to the analysis made by the CJF, it doesn’t have the necessary resources to continue with the construction and the project remains unfinished, despite the fact that the CJF registered an under-spending for MXN $5,500 million that same year.

In the current administration, the Judiciary has been fighting against irregularities and abuses. These measures look for the legitimization of the justice system since it is essential for its members to follow the laws and not use their power and personal animosities to influence decisions that will have an important impact on democracy.

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As a result, this newspaper has made a formal request to the Supreme Court so that minister Aguilar Morales is disqualified, his replacement as a minister, since he has penned several projects to undermine free speech, even when her colleagues rejected them. In each of the three projects, the aim to attack free speech becomes clear, similar to other proposals made by minister Alberto Pérez Dayán. EL UNIVERSAL believes minister Aguilar Morales’ decision is not to interpret the Constitution in regards to a specific case but rather to affect a media outlet that published information about his team at the helm of the Supreme Court.

As part of his project, the minister dismisses the right of objection and claims that it is not a tool for judges to determine if they believe something is true, false, or inexact but rather to guarantee the person’s right for their version to be included, as in the case on Anaya.

This was confirmed by the Supreme Court in the 122/2015 action of unconstitutionality, published by the Federal Official Gazette on April 24, 2018: “The nature of the right of objection is not to find the truth about the information published. This means there is no final decision about who is right in regards to the veracity of the information. Instead, this aims to publish a different version of certain information so that it is available to readers and have more information so they can form their own opinion.”

In short, the right of objection is an opportunity granted by the Constitution to society, so that a person is heard and provides a second version of the events; a different use would imply an abuse. It is not an opportunity for the person to surreptitiously argue, attack, and manipulate this right for personal reasons. However, the Constitution doesn’t allow journalistic opinions to be held to the right of objection, something that could be considered as an attack against journalism, freedom of speech, and democracy. Mexico’s Supreme Court has protected these principles, therefore, the three projects proposed by minister Aguilar Morales are incomprehensible.

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During a session on November 19, 2019, all ministers, except Aguilar, voted against his project. Nevertheless, in his third project, Luis María Aguilar insists on intervening in the editing of the objecting, even when it became clear that the information published by EL UNIVERSAL is not false, in order to include things that have nothing to do with what was published. It this project moves forward, it would imply that politicians use the right of objection and turn it into a propaganda platform and in a tool to undermine journalism and free speech.

Beyond EL UNIVERSAL’s interest on maintaining its version of the events, it is evident that minister Aguilar Morales is looking, under the limitations of his personal motivation, to affect a specific media outlet and is not considering that this could open the door to undermining any criticism against political power, a scenario that would not benefit democracy.

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