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Mexican politician stripped naked to protest energy bill, and words not by him

In Mexico, a politician stripped naked in parliament as a protest against corruption in the country. At least, that’s the claim in a message posted on Facebook in Nigeria on 11 October 2020.

The post shows a photo of a man wearing only his underpants, standing at a podium. A pile of what seems to be his suit, tie and shoes lies at his feet as he appears to address people off camera. 

“You are ashamed to see me naked but you are not ashamed to see your people moving on the streets naked, barefooted and hungry after you have stolen all their money and wealth,” the message quotes the man as saying.

It identifies him only as a member of parliament “in Mexico”, but gives no other details or context. The post has been viewed more than 7.4 million times in just a few days.

Did a Mexican MP strip to his underwear to shame other politicians for stealing from the country’s poor? We checked.


Protest against energy bill in 2013

A Google reverse image search reveals that the photo first appeared online in 2013 and shows an incident that took place in Mexico’s congress

The man is Antonio Garcia Conejo, a representative of the Democratic Revolution Party. Conejo made headlines on 13 December 2013 when he stripped naked to protest the congress’s approval of a controversial energy bill that would allow private companies to drill for oil and gas. 

This bill signalled the first time Mexico would allow private firms to drill for oil and gas with state-owned energy firm Pemex since the country nationalised its oil industry in 1938. 

Conejo was one of the politicians who spoke against the controversial bill. 

No record of quote in news reports

But the quote does not appear to be by Conejo.

The Spanish-language El Comunista reported at the time that Conejo stripped off his clothes to symbolise that in passing the law, the Mexican government would be allowing foreign-owned firms and private companies to “strip” the country of its natural resources. 

“Just as they have stripped the nation by privatising Telephones of Mexico, so they are stripping the Nation,” the publication quotes him as saying, in a machine translation of the Spanish. “I'm not ashamed, because that's what they're doing. They took away and privatised Telefonos de México and where is the benefit?”

The BBC quotes Conejo as saying: “This is how you're stripping the nation. Where is the benefit? I'm not ashamed, what you're doing is a shame.”

We googled the quote in the Facebook post – both in English and translated into Spanish – and could not find any evidence that Conejo said it during his 2013 protest.

A Mexican politician did strip to his underwear in protest during parliamentary proceedings, in 2013. The protest was not against corruption, but against a new energy bill that would allow private companies to drill for oil and gas. And he did not say the words attributed to him in the Facebook post. – Naledi Mashishi


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