Chihuahua marchers arrive in Mexico City yesterday. Chihuahua marchers arrive in Mexico City yesterday.

Chihuahua protest ends with agreement

Federal funds to be released, Duarte extradition request to proceed

The government of Chihuahua reached an agreement with its federal counterpart in Mexico City Saturday, bringing a week-long protest march from the northern border state to an end.

The Mexican government pledged to reinstate 900 million pesos (almost US $48 million) of funding to the state and will proceed with its requests for the provisional arrest and extradition of former Chihuahua governor César Duarte.

Last month, current Governor Javier Corral accused the federal government of withholding funds in retaliation for its investigation into corruption committed during Duarte’s administration.

The National Action Party governor has also claimed that the government is deliberately dragging its feet on efforts to bring Duarte home to face the allegations.

At a rally in Mexico City yesterday, the governor described the agreement as a victory and recognized the work and leadership of Interior Secretary Alfonso Navarrete in reaching the accord.

Corral also called on everyone in the country to form one great national movement aimed at achieving a Mexico without corruption.

“The convoy arrived at its end, but not our movement,” he said. The governor has made fighting corruption a central tenet of his administration.

Corral rejected any suggestion that the accord was reached in exchange for agreeing to transfer former Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) secretary general Alejandro Gutiérrez to a federal prison.

Nevertheless, Gutiérrez — who is accused of operating an embezzlement scheme in the state and was detained in December —and another 100 federal prisoners currently held in state jails will be transferred so that “they are where they should be,” Corral said.

“We haven’t negotiated . . . where he is imprisoned doesn’t matter, as long as he remains in that condition,” the governor claimed.

However, the interior secretary said in a television interview that the transfer of Gutiérrez to a federal prison was a fundamental condition in order to be able to start dialogue with Corral.

Navarrete said the agreement was “honorable,” adding that it eliminated “a problem that never should have existed.”

He denied that the federal government had carried out a political campaign with its budget and stressed that progressing with the extradition request “does not remove the constitutional rights” that any person accused of a crime has to defend himself.

Navarrete explained that the agreement includes articles that stipulate that international extradition treaties Mexico has signed must be respected and therefore the federal government must lead the process to bring Duarte home to face justice.

However, he added that the government of Chihuahua will also be involved in the process “to avoid mistrust,” adding that if a state has issued an arrest warrant for a suspected criminal who is outside the country, it has a right to contribute to the formulation of the extradition request.

He said the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) and the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs (SRE) are now preparing to ask Interpol to issue a red notice for Duarte, who is believed to be in hiding in the United States.

Source: El Universal (sp), Milenio (sp)

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