Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

Scandal erupts over power of Mexican union leader

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on July 13, 2011

by E. Eduardo Castillo for  The Miami Herald, July 6th, 2011.

Elba Esther Gordillo is probably Mexico’s most powerful woman, president of the nation’s biggest union and a potential kingmaker in next year’s presidential election.

Now she’s fighting allegations from a former ally that she tried to extort nearly $2 million a month from a federal agency in a scandal that has raised questions about how far reform has taken root in Mexico following the 2000 ouster of the long-ruling Institutional Revolution Party, or PRI.

The accusation hurled by the former head of Mexico’s social security system for government workers comes as Mexico’s two largest political parties struggle over how avidly they should woo Gordillo, who has built a uniquely independent position of power as head of the 1.5-million-member teacher’s union.

Miguel Angel Yunes said Tuesday that Gordillo had met with him at a San Diego hotel in 2007 and demanded his agency give 20 million pesos ($1.7 million) a month to finance activities of a new political party created by her allies.

Gordillo, who called the claim “rash, frivolous and slanderous,” has beaten back years of attacks from union dissidents, political foes and journalists who have seen her as a symbol of Mexico’s corrupt, old-style politics. Rivals have accused her of corruption, misuse of union funds and even a murder, but prosecutors who investigated never brought a charge against her. (continue reading… )


Elba Esther Gordillo


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