La Maestra: political prisoner? Gordillo: political prisoner?

La Maestra takes her case to international rights commission

Former teachers' union head, accused of corruption, claims she's a political prisoner

A lawyer for former teachers’ union boss Elba Esther Gordillo will present evidence to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington, D.C., tomorrow to support the claim that she is a political prisoner.

Marco Antonio del Toro Carazo will argue that Gordillo, widely known as “La Maestra” (The Teacher), has been the victim of serious human rights violations perpetrated by the Mexican state because of her opposition to the 2013 educational reforms.

It is the second time that Gordillo will file a complaint with the IACHR to allege human rights violations against her in connection with legal rulings.

In a statement issued before his departure to the U.S. capital, del Toro said the former SNTE union chief’s detention on corruption charges in 2013 was politically motivated.

“It’s a tragedy for our fledgling and still fragile rule of law that any person can be imprisoned because of differences of opinion with the government, in this case related to the educational reform, specifically over labor guarantees for the nation’s teachers, among other points,” he said.

“As her lawyer . . . I will provide evidence and hard facts that prove this persecution and [show that] the way in which Mexican governmental authorities orchestrated it was with the consent of [federal] judges . . . who have betrayed their obligation to be impartial when serving justice in La Maestra’s case and have been subjugated to executive power.”

Gordillo spent almost five years in custody following her arrest, first in the medical wing of a Mexico City prison and later in an exclusive private hospital but in December last year she was granted her longtime wish to serve jail time under house arrest.

The same day she was permitted to return home, the New Alliance party that the ex-union leader founded and later led forged an alliance with the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and its presidential candidate José Antonio Meade.

Gordillo still faces charges of organized crime and embezzlement in connection with the disappearance of 2 billion pesos (US $102 million at today’s exchange rate) in union funds. But del Toro maintains that his client is innocent.

“. . . La Maestra is a political prisoner because she’s accused of a crime she didn’t commit but what’s more serious is confronting a reality that causes even more damage: that some members of the federal judiciary are capable of participating in a farce which seeks to condemn, without foundation and at any cost, a person who is innocent of the fabricated crimes,” the lawyer’s statement said.

Del Toro also criticized the speed with which the preliminary investigation into his client’s alleged illegal activities was conducted, alleging that it was completed in just one week from February 13 to 20 of this year.

“It was done in a hurry and with very serious inconsistencies. But above all, it was done knowing that the conduct she is accused of will not stand up to serious legal analysis . . .” the statement said.

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

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