Just a day after Mexico’s new President Enrique Peña Nieto passed historic education reform, weakening the powerful and hitherto unaccountable teachers union, the union’s influential boss was arrested on charges of embezzlement. The arrest has been called a daring assertion of presidential power, reports the FT:
“This is a very bold move,” said Alejandro Hope, an analyst at the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness (Imco). “[Union leader] Gordillo has been the ultimate power broker in Mexico for at least the last decade.” […]
In the days leading up to the reforms signing into law, Ms Gordillo mobilised union members to protest the changes.
But while describing the arrest as “daring”, Mr Hope also said that the decision contained many potential dangers. For one thing, Ms Gordillo has her own political party and also is understood to enjoy the support of most of her [1.5 million] union members.
The reform Peña Nieto signed into law on Monday weakens the union by “establishing a transparent system for hiring teachers and evaluating their performance.” Arresting the hugely influential and politically powerful Elba Esther Gordillo, who has been accused of spending $156 million in union funds on designer clothes, houses in California, and plastic surgery (it shows), took some serious Scott Walker-type gumption.
Big things are happening in Mexico.