MEXICO CITY – A former leader of Mexico’s powerful teachers’ union who has been jailed since 2013 for allegedly embezzling tens of millions of dollars will be able to face trial under house arrest, local media reported.
The federal Attorney General’s Office stopped pursuing its appeal of a federal court ruling that authorized Elba Esther Gordillo to be released from a female penitentiary in Mexico City, the reports said.
The 72-year-old former boss of the more-than-1-million-strong SNTE teachers union was arrested on Feb. 26, 2013, on racketeering and money laundering charges.
Gordillo, also a one-time secretary-general of Mexico’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), stands accused of embezzling more than 2 billion pesos ($104.6 million at the current exchange rate) in union dues and using those funds to cover personal expenses and purchase real estate.
The PRI’s candidate in next year’s presidential election, former Finance Secretary Jose Antonio Meade, on Friday denied any connection between the granting of house arrest to Gordillo and the announcement just hours earlier of an electoral alliance between the New Alliance Party (Panal) she founded and the PRI.
“A process was followed. The law is being applied and that has nothing to do with what we’re seeing in the political realm,” Meade said.
The SNTE was traditionally a pillar of the PRI, which ruled Mexico from 1929 to the 2000 election victory of the PAN’s Vicente Fox.
Gordillo had cordial relations with Fox and was drummed out of the PRI in 2006 because she helped start Panal, a centrist party that put forward its own presidential candidate that year and once again in 2012.
The PRI recaptured the presidency in 2012 after being out of power nationally for a dozen years.