A judge has ordered the suspension of the mayor of the Mexico City borough of Cuauhtémoc while she faces charges of theft, abuse of authority and discrimination.
The case against Sandra Cuevas, who was elected mayor last June on a joint PAN-PRI-PRD ticket, stems from a complaint filed against her by two commanders of the Mexico City auxiliary police.
According to Ulises Lara López, spokesman for the Mexico City Attorney General’s Office (FGJ), the mayor summoned the two police commanders to her office in early February after they were involved in a dispute with informal economy vendors in the historic center of the capital, which is part of the Cuauhtémoc borough.
The meeting between the police commanders and the mayor, who portrays herself as an ally of informal sector workers, quickly grew heated and the latter allegedly attacked the former both verbally and physically.
The police also allege that they were physically attacked by men present at the meeting and that they were stripped of their radios and held against their will for over an hour on the instructions of Cuevas. They also claim that the mayor’s cabinet chief pressured them not to file a legal complaint.
The police commanders rejected that advice and took the case to the FGJ, which pressed charges against Cuevas and three other borough officials.
A Mexico City judge ruled Monday that all four must be removed from their positions until the case against them is resolved. The ruling also prohibits them from leaving the country or approaching their alleged victims. Another hearing will take place Thursday.
Cuevas, who has not yet appeared in court, has denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the allegations are related to her opposition to Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum and President López Obrador.
She said on Twitter Monday that she has provided video footage to authorities of the events that took place at the Cuauhtémoc borough offices on February 11. “With this solid proof, I’m calm and confident that everything will work out in my favor,” Cuevas wrote.
The 36-year-old entrepreneur has been controversial since she took office on October 1, an event that was notable for a red carpet laid out for invited guests and the release of hundreds of white butterflies during a fireworks display.
Her worship the mayor during a disagreement with constituents.
— Leͥgeͣnd (@venceslav) October 26, 2021
Numerous political figures expressed their support for the mayor and criticized her temporary suspension, including Ricardo Monreal, Morena’s leader in the Senate, who described the temporary suspension of the mayor in an interview as “a legal coup,” “an excess” and “a political decision,” since, he said, someone who has a popularly elected position cannot be removed by a judge but by the Mexico City Congress and only after an impeachment process.
“The absurd suspension of Sandra Cuevas confirms that the government of Claudia Sheinbaum has embarked on a ferocious hunt against opposition mayors in Mexico City,” tweeted PAN national president Marko Cortés.
“It’s persecution against the opposition and particularly Sandra Cuevas,” said Margarita Zavala, a federal PAN deputy and former first lady.
“A judge can’t suspend anyone without … [a] sentence,” she wrote on Twitter before implying that the independence of the judiciary had been violated.
Mayor Sheinbaum, who represents Mexico’s ruling Morena party, denied any involvement in Cuevas’ case.
“Today it’s in the hands of justice,” she said Tuesday, adding that her government doesn’t determine the actions of judges.
Sheinbaum asserted that the case is a judicial matter and has nothing to do with politics.
“… It’s not a matter that has to do with the city government, with the mayor,” she said, adding that Cuevas “has the right to say what she thinks.”
“It’s a matter that is now in the hands of justice. It was her actions that led the police to present a complaint,” Sheinbaum said.
The borough of Cuauhtémoc includes the capital’s historic center and the zócalo.