On August 8 the Mexican government announced it was dropping charges against former teachers’ union leader Elba Esther Gordillo and the sinister long-time political operator was set free after five years of various types of arrest (for a time-machine return to her sensational bust, please read our blog post from that wonderful day). The big news came on the same day that Andrés Manuel López Obrador received his official certification as President-elect from electoral authorities, provoking widespread speculation that El Peje had somehow played a role in Gordillo’s release. The López Obrador transition team responded that the timing was a mere coincidence, causing further arching of eyebrows and sidelong glances. Gordillo, for her part, announced that she will be making a political announcement on August 20, so local pundits are suggesting she may reveal some sort of collaboration with the new government. Continue reading Feds spring Elba Esther as AMLO looms
Police helicopters are clattering overhead outside our window in Mexico City this morning as the town buzzes with a frenzy of marvel, speculation and no small dose of schadenfreude over the stunning news that union leader Elba Esther Gordillo was arrested on charges of embezzlement to the tune of over US$150 million. The helicopters may just be chasing some bank robber, but it adds to the sensational atmosphere surrounding one of the most eye-popping political hits in decades here.
Gordillo, the longtime head of the 1.5-million member National Education Workers Union (SNTE) is charged with systematically diverting funds from union coffers into personal accounts overseas: that part is no surprise to anyone. Since her rise to the top of the SNTE through an internal coup in 1989, Gordillo’s ruthless wielding of power, ostentatious flaunting of personal wealth and untouchability despite endless allegations of corruption, influence peddling and even murder have made her a symbol of all that is putrid in the Mexican political system. In a nation renowned worldwide for corrupt politicians, her sheer venality towers above most others. And to make horror perfect, the fact that Gordillo ran the nation’s massive public education system untrammeled like a medieval lord – sending millions to Swiss bank accounts while children went without schooling in much of the country – made her and the SNTE perhaps the single greatest impediment to the country’s development (see one of our past posts on this topic here). Continue reading Elba Esther Gordillo thrown in jail
Right now on Friday, December 21, 2012 it seems like we must be the last people in Mexico City still at our desks, as the sounds of holiday merry-making rise up from the cantinas outside our window in Colonia Condesa. But before we pull down the shades and make a beeline for the punch bowls, we’d just like to make a few comments about the year coming to a close and the new year fast approaching.
We’re not going to dwell on the bad things that happened in Mexico this year, because the mainstream International media, principally in the United States, already covers that beat with ravenous enthusiasm. We will mention a few things though, because this stuff really makes our ass want to dip snuff: Ongoing slaughter and disappearances related to drug trafficking; wholesale corruption making a mockery of society, such as Humberto Moreira’s loan racket in Coahuila and the Wal-Mart bribery scandal; and old fashioned electoral manipulation by the PRI in the run-up to the presidential election, to name a few.
We would like to mention a couple of things though that piqued our interest this year in a more positive way. Continue reading 2013 offers opportunities and challenges for Mexico