Sharp divisions have emerged within the ruling Morena party over whether its candidate for governor of Guerrero, who faces sexual assault allegations, is the right person to contest the June 6 election.
Félix Salgado Macedonio, a former senator accused of raping a teenage girl in 1998 and a woman in 2016, remains Morena’s candidate even though he is being investigated by authorities and is the subject of an internal party probe.
The 64-year-old, who last month held a massive birthday party in violation of coronavirus restrictions, has the support of many of Morena’s most powerful figures, including President López Obrador and national party president Mario Delgado, but faces staunch opposition from some female lawmakers and rank and file members.
His support among the party’s elite and the alleged sympathy toward him by Morena’s honesty and justice commission have led some women to believe that Salgado is being protected and will never face justice for his alleged crimes.
López Obrador claimed last month that the sexual abuse allegations Salgado faces are politically motivated.
“It’s a partisan matter and product of the [electoral] season,” he said January 8. “There is competition in some states because the elections are coming; all this generates controversy and accusations. The only thing that I can say is that when there are elections or [political] competition, it’s about discrediting the opponent in one way or another.”
Delgado, who left the lower house of Congress last November to take up the national presidency of Morena, has defended Salgado’s candidacy on the grounds that he hasn’t been convicted of any crime and therefore maintains his right to stand for election.
“While Félix Salgado maintains his political rights, he’s our candidate,” he said recently. “There is no sentence from any authority that proves that he committed a crime.”
Female lawmakers and Morena members take a very different view with regard to Salgado’s right to contest the election. They have written to the party leadership to express their anger at his selection and to call for a review of the decision, and lawmakers have demanded that authorities in Guerrero expeditiously conclude their investigation into Salgado’s alleged crimes.
Morena secretary general Citlalli Hernández said in January that Salgado should be stripped of his candidacy, saying the party “cannot remain silent in the face of possible cases of rape and gender abuse.”
But she has so far been unable to convince enough of her high-ranking party colleagues to adopt the same view, and Salgado’s candidacy was accepted by Morena in Guerrero this week.
In a statement published Monday, female members and supporters of the party called on its national leadership to put themselves on “the side of history, the side of victims, the side of women and the side of justice” and not allow a person facing “multiple accusations of violence” to be a candidate at any election.
Some female Morena members have said they will quit if Salgado is allowed to stand, while Carol Arriaga, women’s secretary on Morena’s national executive committee, warned that the party will send a message of impunity to citizens if it allows him to run for governor.
During an appearance before Morena’s honesty and justice commission on Monday, one of Salgado’s alleged victims criticized López Obrador for his remarks and demanded that he take the side of victims rather than aggressors.
“I came to give my testimony so that he doesn’t keep saying it’s a dirty war and part of the [election] contest. … [The rape accusation] is not a lie, I’m here and I’m going to keep fighting until I’m heard. … This isn’t something [just] to try to stop him being governor. … A rapist is a rapist, whoever he is. I would tell [the president] to be serious and put himself in the place of the victim, he can’t defend a rapist,” said Basilia “N.”
A defense lawyer for the woman accused Morena’s honesty and justice commission of showing favoritism toward Salgado, criticizing it for allowing four lawyers representing the candidate to ask “hostile” questions of her client that re-victimized her.
The commission rejected a request for Salgado to appear and be questioned by the alleged victim’s lawyers.
Basilia “N.” accused the commission of running a “simulation,” asserting that it was not really working on the case.
“I believe that they don’t see me as a victim, I don’t see that they are listening to me, they’re not listening to me at all,” she said.
Source: Animal Político (sp)