Mexico's president, judiciary in standoff over pay

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Mexico's new president said Monday that salaries for some in the country's judicial branch are "offensive" and that he will leave it to the Congress to implement his call for austerity.

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President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador showed no sign of budging in his standoff with Mexico's judges, who have balked at his demand that no public salaries exceed his own.

Since Lopez Obrador has pledged to only take a salary of 108,000 pesos ($5,300) per month, many in the federal government will face a pay cut.

On Friday, Mexico's Supreme Court suspended the federal pay law passed by the Congress and Lopez Obrador addressed the decision Monday during a news conference with reporters.

"They collect as much as 600,000 pesos (nearly $30,000) per month," he said. "This is offensive. This doesn't go with the change that's needed and that is demanded by the people, nor with justice." Lopez Obrador added that he will respect the decisions of the courts, but "who will decide are the congressional deputies."

Lopez Obrador's coalition controls both chambers of the Congress.

The Supreme Court tweeted the branch's pay structure Monday, saying supreme court magistrates make less than half what Lopez Obrador alleged.

But the president who took office Dec. 1 has said many public employees receive bonuses and other compensation hidden from the public. Reducing the public payroll is critical for Lopez Obrador to having funds needed to accomplish his other goals. He promised transparency that would allow the public to see where public employees work and how much they are compensated.

Federal judges and magistrates demonstrated Monday morning in Mexico City.

Luis Vega Ramirez, president of the national association representing them, said the pay law was only part of legislation attacking the judiciary's independence. He alluded to other legislation that would rotate judges around the country and impose confidence tests.

Vega complained that there was "a false discourse that we are privileged (by) suggesting excessive quantities, like we make more than 600,000 pesos a month, which does not correspond, not even close, with reality."