Puebla Governor Miguel Barbosa is being investigated by his own party’s commission on honesty and justice for controversial remarks he made downplaying the disappearance of women in his state.
Barbosa said on Tuesday that many of the women officially reported missing have actually been found with their boyfriends.
“There have been cases where the ministerial police have found people declared missing with their boyfriend somewhere in Puebla, and while they have been on the registry of the disappeared,” the Morena party governor said, claiming that sometimes family members overreact to absences of a few days which are often voluntary.
Without citing any numbers, he conceded that there are some real cases of disappearance, but that the percentage of those reported is minimal.
Days before, the governor responded sharply to a reporter who questioned him about 166 women who have disappeared in the state since January.
“Do you know how many have already appeared?” he told the reporter. “No? Well find out and then ask questions.”
It is not the first time Barbosa has been criticized for making insensitive or factually dubious remarks.
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in March, Barbosa told a press conference that poor people are “immune” to Covid-19, as wealthy people made up the majority of those infected.
“Those who are infected right now, … the majority are well-to-do people, eh? If you’re rich, you’re at risk. If you’re poor, no. Us poor folks are immune,” he said at the time, although the subsequent publication of his assets revealed that the governor was by no means poor.
Barbosa, who took office in October after the previous governor was killed in a helicopter crash two weeks after taking office, was roundly criticized for calling the death of Martha Erika Alonso and her husband a “punishment from God,” for having “stolen” the 2018 election from him. Alonso had been sworn in just weeks before the crash.
And in February, he ignored a pledge he made to animal rights activists during his campaign to “restrict violent events involving animals” and announced the construction of a new bullfighting arena and cockfighting ring in the capital city.