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Elba Esther … free at last

10 August 2018

Elba Esther Gordillo … her alleged embezzlement somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 billion pesos (2,000,000,000) from the teachers’ union might have been overlooked, despite her flamboyant lifestyle and the open ridicule of her penchant for cosmetic surgery, if it hadn’t been for her willingness, while a PRI leader (Senate Majority leader, and #2 in the party’s central committee) if it hadn’t been for two tactical errors. First, back in 2005, after having openly worked with the opposition PAN administration (collaborating with Martha Sahugún… Vicente Fox’s wife, and a power within the “piety wing” of PAN) on educational issues, she tried unsuccessfully to become party leader.

It wasn’t so much she was (allegedly) stealing from the union, as it was she mas a mistress at controlling the union, and her union’s voters, as it was when she was thrown out of the Party, she went rogue, setting up her own party, PANAL… which (again, allegedly) was instrumental in pulling enough votes from both PRI and from then PRD candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, to hand a narrow victory to PAN’s Felipe Calderón in 2006.

Given her “treason” to the PRI, and the PRI’s own need to at least pretend to be cleaning up corruption, coupled with PRI’s own neo’liberal turn towards anti-union economic policies, she was low-hanging fruit for the incoming Peña Neito Administration’s claim to be “saving Mexico”.

Everyone from the “good government” left to the “right to work” right indulged inn a campaign of villification, based as much on her (changeable) appearance as anything else. Sexist? You betcha, but seeing Elba Esther stripped of her make-up behind bars was an atavistic pleasure for all of us… myself included.

BUT… funny thing. No formal charges were every brought. Given her age (she’s in her 70s), she was released under house arrest… the house being a rather swanky one in Polanco… from which she (again, allegedly) still controlled her union votes. Or does she? Her party’s bizarro 2012 candidate (an obscure “green-washing” business consultant re-baptized as an environmentalist, best remembered for starting down the breast of the stage assistant at the unfortunate “game-show style” presidential debate), and her party’s inclusion in the PRI-led coalition in this year’s election… a disaster for the PRI, and a bigger one for her own party, which did so poorly it lost it is losing its registration, if she still is the mistress of the dark art of throwing elections, she’s doing a pretty poor job of it.

UNLESS… as some suspect, or want to suspect, she is secretly (or not so secretly) in cahoots with Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. It’s quite possible she is, given that AMLO’s coalition managed to corral the votes of both Elba Esther’s SNTE and the dissident CNTE… the “democratic” (i.e. anti-Elba Esther) teachers’ union. Releasing her from custody now could also be an attempt to smear the incoming Lopez Obrador administration, with at least the appearance of a quid-pro-quo for corruption. That would make sense, given that public outrage over open corruption with the outgoing administration was a major factor in AMLO’s victory, and the downfall of the old major parties. In other words, the shattered opposition parties can, at the very least, say… “See, he tolerates corruption, too”.

Whatever the reason, Elba Esther was never formally charged, and the outgoing Peña Nieto administrion is doing with previous administrations have done before: bring charges against would-be political opponents, only to drop the charges and release the prisoner, once the election is over.

IN other words, though the heavens may fall for saying this, no criminal charges were ever proven, and a fair trial would have been impossible, so I have to accept that she was a political prisoner, and releasing her a matter of basic justice.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 10 August 2018 8:16 am

    This reads like a prose poem.

  2. 13 August 2018 3:23 pm

    Of course she was a political prisoner. But does anyone really believe that she didn’t embezzle all that money? Of course tracing the origins of that, and then prosecuting her would kill the gravy train for the entire Mexican political class. So that wasn’t going to happen.

    And restitution? Haha…dream on.


    Kim G
    Redding, Ca
    Where we are wondering whether you actually proofread this post or not. We’re betting “not.”

    • 14 August 2018 1:14 am

      Worse… wrote it while taking medication.

      • 14 August 2018 10:56 am

        So sorry to hear that. Definitely not up to your normal standard. Get well soon!

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