Mexico union leader charged with organised crime
Union head Elba Esther Gordillo, considered Mexico’s most powerful woman, has been charged with the use of illicit funds and conspiracy.
Ms Gordillo, who runs the 1.5 million-member Mexican teachers’ union, was arrested on Tuesday and is alleged to have embezzled more than $200m.
She reportedly spent millions on a US department store, plastic surgery, property and a private plane.
Her arrest came a day after the enactment of major educational reforms.
President Enrique Pena Nieto signed the sweeping reforms, which seek to change a system dominated by Ms Gordillo’s union in which teaching positions could be sold or inherited.
“We are looking at a case in which the funds of education workers have been illegally misused, for the benefit of several people, among them Elba Esther Gordillo,” Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said.
His office alleges Ms Gordillo, 68, used the money on property, including in the US, private planes and plastic surgery.
The BBC’s Will Grant in Mexico City says that Ms Gordillo is one of the highest profile figures in Mexican political life, known simply as “La Maestra” or “the teacher”.
For more than 20 years she has led the National Union of Education Workers (SNTE).
With an estimated 1.5 million members, the SNTE is considered Latin America’s most powerful union.
Ms Gordillo has held real influence over governments and individual presidents by persuading her union members to vote as a single bloc, our correspondent says.
The teachers were also responsible for manning polling stations on election day.
Her union is very wealthy, and can count on an annual budget of tens of millions of dollars.
It is on claims that she mishandled those funds, allegedly diverting money intended for the union’s coffers to her personal accounts, that she has now been arrested.
The education reforms appeared set to weaken the SNTE, which has largely controlled access to the profession.
The union has argued that reforms could lead to massive lay-offs.
Critics also say the changes could signal the start of the privatisation of education in Mexico.
Mexico’s education system currently ranks bottom in a list of members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Elba Esther Gordillo Morales (February 6, 1945) is a Mexican politician who has been the leader of the 1.4-million strong National Education Workers’ Union (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Educación, or SNTE), the largest labor union in Latin America, since 1989. She was formerly affiliated with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, or PRI) until 2005, when left and founded the New Alliance Party (Partido Nueva Alianza, or PANAL), which is currently led by her grandson Luis Castro Obregón.
Gordillo has held considerable influence over governments and individual Presidents by persuading her union members to vote as a single bloc and suppress enemies.
she looks like the type of lady who would enjoy spending time with valerie jarrett..
“She reportedly spent millions on a US department store, plastic surgery, property and a private plane”
she got ripped off then..
the teachers union is a powerful thing to control..”they” will be unhappy to lose a player..