It might well be coincidence but just as the New Alliance Party joined José Antonio Meade Kuribreña’s presidential campaign, the party’s founder and former leader was granted her longtime wish to serve jail time under house arrest.
Elba Esther Gordillo Morales led the SNTE teachers’ union until she was arrested in 2013 on corruption charges. She had been appointed SNTE leader in 1989 by then president Carlos Salinas de Gortari, and held the position until her arrest.
Gordillo was also a powerful member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), rising to second in command in the early 2000s.
In 2005, “La Maestra,” as Gordillo has been known for years, created the New Alliance Party, known as Panal, with backing from the SNTE.
Today she faces charges of embezzlement and organized crime in connection with the disappearance of 2 billion pesos (US $157 million) in union funds. Despite the serious nature of the charges against her, Gordillo has never set a foot in a proper jail cell for health reasons.
After her arrest she was admitted to the medical wing of the Tepepan women’s penitentiary in Mexico City, but in January 2016 she was transferred to a costly private facility in the state’s Roma Norte district, where her family pays an estimated 10,000 pesos (about US $520) per night.
Gordillo’s lawyers have been fighting in the courts since 2015 to have her placed under house arrest on the grounds of her age and medical condition.
Yesterday, Gordillo’s wish became a reality after the Attorney General decided to withdraw its opposition.
Also yesterday, the party she founded joined the coalition that is backing Meade, the PRI’s candidate for president in next July’s election.
The national council of Panal, the de-facto political arm of the SNTE whose membership consists of thousands of teachers, decided to participate in the political movement backing Meade, joining its longtime political allies the PRI and the Green Party.