The Veracruz politician who was named interim governor after Javier Duarte stepped down last October is now sitting in a prison cell, facing charges of concealment, influence peddling and abuse of power.
Flavino Ríos Alvarado was arrested Sunday for his alleged role in the disappearance of Duarte, now wanted on corruption charges — embezzlement, illegal enrichment and organized crime.
The charges against Ríos stem from Duarte’s October 14 departure from the capital of Xalapa in a government helicopter, which took him to Coatzacoalcos. The aircraft had been made available by Ríos, who said at the time he was simply responding to a request by Duarte and had no knowledge at that point that an arrest order had been issued for him.
Duarte’s whereabouts have been unknown ever since.
Ríos is now accused of helping the former governor escape, a crime that a judge decided warranted his detention in preventive custody for up to one year.
However, the move is being interpreted by opposition politicians as an act of political vengeance on the part of Governor Miguel Ángel Yunes Linares.
The national leader of the Institutional Revolutionary party (PRI), to which Ríos belongs, demanded that the state government explain the accusations and arrest of the former interim governor.
“The citizens’ demand for punishment against the corruption in Veracruz is a key principle that must not be twisted into political vengeance. Those responsible should be punished without violating the law,” wrote Enrique Ochoa Reza on Twitter.
The party’s state leader said Ríos was a professional politician and distinguished party member whose performance has been characterized by a willingness to engage in dialogue and build agreements and respect for the rule of law.
“It is clear that those of us who disagree with the governor live in a state of permanent political persecution,” said Renato Alarcón Guevara in a prepared statement.
Governor Yunes defended his predecessor’s arrest, and said he found it unfortunate that Ríos is now being described as a victim after having collaborated in Duarte’s escape.
Yunes added that since Ríos was Duarte’s closest collaborator, the arrest will probably give law enforcement agencies more clues about the latter’s whereabouts.
Rather than an act of political persecution, it was a legal act carried out on the orders of a judge, he said.
Some law specialists have agreed with Yunes, seeing Ríos’ preventive incarceration for one year as a lawful action, observing that he has the option of appealing the decision.