Accused rapist and disqualified political candidate Félix Salgado, who was barred from contesting the upcoming Guerrero gubernatorial election because he missed a deadline to report pre-campaign spending, issued a threat on Monday against the National Electoral Institute (INE) councilors who stripped him of his candidacy.
Speaking at a protest by supporters outside INE headquarters in Mexico City, Salgado — who was selected as the candidate for the ruling Morena party despite accusations of rape by five women and widespread opposition to his candidacy — said that he and his supporters would track down the seven electoral councilors, including INE president Lorenzo Córdova, if they don’t reinstate him on the ballot for the June 6 election.
His remarks came a day after he threatened to stop elections from happening in Guerrero unless he is allowed to run.
The INE general council will convene on Tuesday after the Federal Electoral Tribunal (TEPJF) ordered it to reformulate its sanctions against both Salgado and Raúl Morón, Morena’s candidate for governor in Michoacán — who was also barred from contesting the elections for failing to report pre-campaign spending.
“If they don’t vindicate themselves, … we’re going to find the seven [councilors],” Salgado said, “we’re going to look for them, and we’re going to go and see Córdova.”
“Wouldn’t the people of Mexico like to know where Lorenzo Córdova lives? Wouldn’t you like to know where his little … sheet metal home is, which leaks when it rains and wets his body? Yes? Little bastard!”
Salgado, a federal senator on leave and a former mayor of Acapulco, asserted that he and his supporters would not allow themselves to be victims of INE’s “abuse.”
“… We have the support of the people. We’re the majority,” he added.
Salgado’s supporters at the protest also issued a threat to the INE president, writing “Lorenzo, count your days, demon rat” on a coffin that was on display behind the would-be candidate as he spoke.
Facing criticism for his remarks, Salgado later on Monday attempted to walk back the threat he made against the INE councilors.
“A lot of people have visited me in my home, [and] nothing happens,” he told reporters. “I’m not going to [Córdova’s] house; [I say it] so that the man isn’t worried. It’s not a threat, it’s not violence.”
After the INE council meets, he said, and regardless of the decision it makes with respect to his candidacy, “we’re going [back] to Guerrero.”
“We’re leaving tomorrow [Tuesday] once we find out the result. We’re not pressuring anyone, we’re not hurting anyone, we’re not blocking any road, we’re not exercising violence,” he declared.
In a subsequent television interview, Salgado asserted again that his remarks don’t amount to a threat but also claimed that people have a right to know where government officials, including the INE councilors, live.
“We didn’t come to destroy or annoy anyone,” he said, adding that if the INE doesn’t overturn its decision to strip him of his candidacy, he will once again take his case to the TEPJF.
Morena national president Mario Delgado also came to Salgado’s defense, telling reporters that “no threat has been made to anyone.”
Morena is “a peaceful movement,” Delgado said.
“Throughout all these years, we have shown that. … Today we’re here singing, we’re dancing,” he said, referring to the protest at the INE offices. “There is no aggression towards anyone. Yes, we’re demanding that they [the INE councilors] act with impartiality. Yes, we’re demanding that the [elections] umpire doesn’t become a player [in the electoral process].”
Delgado once previously called on INE councilors opposed to Morena to join one of the opposition parties and take up the fight against the government “from the correct trench.”
In light of Salgado’s remarks, Interior Minister Olga Sánchez, in an unprecedented move, called on both Morena, which was founded by President López Obrador, and the INE to act in accordance with the law and treat each other with respect.
“As interior minister, I make an energetic call to keep differences within [the framework of] legality and mutual respect,” she wrote in a Twitter post directed to both entities.
For his part, Córdova said he will allow the Mexican people to come to their own conclusions about Salgado’s remarks and those of other political actors who have also issued threats against the electoral body he heads.
“I understand that as part of their strategies, political parties defend their interests and want to position INE as [another] party. The citizens will judge the threats,” he said in an interview.
Córdova said that if he was concerned by threats issued against him, he wouldn’t have accepted the INE presidency in the first place. (He has held the job since 2014). He stressed that the INE is not in favor of or against any political party and noted that the electoral institute of today is the same one that certified the resounding victory of Morena at the 2018 elections, at which López Obrador won 53% of the vote in a four-way contest for president.
In a video message posted to social media on Sunday, Córdova said that the INE — as the organizer and “neutral umpire” of the elections — will guarantee the transparency and fairness of the process in strict accordance with the law.
This year’s election, at which voters will renew the entire lower house of federal congress and elect municipal and state representatives, including governors in 15 states, will be Mexico’s largest ever.