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Mexico City firefighters protest earlier this month to demand the resignation of union leader Ismael Figueroa. Mexico City firefighters protest earlier this month to demand the resignation of union leader Ismael Figueroa.

Mexico City fire department implicated in sale of firefighters’ jobs

Union leader is also under the microscope

Evidence has surfaced that the executive of the Mexico City fire department under the previous city government had administrative responsibility for the sale of 330 jobs.

The city’s director of administrative oversight, Juan José Serrano Mendoza, said in an interview that a special investigation clearly established that the department sold jobs to unqualified candidates despite the presence of clear hiring standards.

The department’s general manager, administrative director and the human resources subdirector are implicated, Serrano said.

Also under the microscope is firefighters’ union leader Ismael Figueroa Flores, who was recorded last October saying that the profiles and health of new hires were not important in the hiring process. At the same time, various fire department employees revealed that they had paid between 150,000 and 200,000 pesos (US $7,700 to $10,300) in exchange for key positions within the department.

“The probe is focused on the fact that these jobs were handed out outside the law. . . . they were warned from the beginning that their hires were not competent, nor were they hiring them in accordance with guidelines,” Serrano said.

The purpose of the probe was to look into administrative practices, and was not a witch hunt, he explained.

“The best example is the case of the firefighters. If the fire chief is involved or not [is beside the point]; this is actually about reviewing the hiring process . . .”

Last November, union leader Figueroa and two firefighters were attacked by a gunman in a restaurant in La Condesa. The shooter later confessed that he had attacked the three men because he was not given the high-ranking position within the fire department for which he had paid 120,000 pesos.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said the majority of those who paid for positions at the department never received them.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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