A Morena party candidate for mayor in a small Yucatán town has life experience of which few other political aspirants can boast — not that they would likely be inclined to do so.
Clemente Julián Cano Chan, candidate for mayor in the municipality of Chumayel, has spent time in a United States prison for drug trafficking, according to a report published by the newspaper Excélsior.
Citing publicly available United States documents, Excélsior said Cano was charged in February 2015 with entering the U.S. illegally and trafficking cocaine and heroin.
The newspaper said he pleaded guilty and was subsequently incarcerated in the Snake River Correctional Institution, a medium-security prison in eastern Oregon. Cano was reportedly released early from prison in 2020 due to good behavior.
Excélsior said the candidate was also arrested on three separate occasions in 2012 and 2014 for crossing illegally into the United States.
Contacted on Tuesday by the news magazine Proceso, Cano initially denied that he was imprisoned in the U.S. but subsequently appeared to accept that he had been.
“Of course I wasn’t [in prison]. … If I were guilty, I wouldn’t be speaking with you at this time,” he told a reporter during a telephone conversation.
Cano also said it was “mala onda” — not cool — for a newspaper to have published a report saying that he was imprisoned on drug trafficking charges but quickly corrected himself and said that it was in fact “buena onda” (cool) because the media attention amounted to “free publicity,” which is “good for the municipality.”
When it was put to him that he was released from prison last year for good behavior, the candidate responded:
“Well, they didn’t tell me that. That can’t be the case. … The people that publish that should have informed themselves with greater certainty.”
However, in rambling remarks, Cano corrected himself again, saying that the media can do whatever it likes.
“People who have money can do as they please with their money. We’re in a free and sovereign country, … there is free expression. … One can opine or say what one really thinks, … he can’t be censored, we’re not in Venezuela. I very much respect your comments, your question, your opinion, thank you very much,” he said before hanging up.
Located about 80 kilometers southeast of Mérida, Chumayel is one of 106 municipalities in Yucatán, all of which will elect new mayors and other local officials on June 6. Chumayel is currently governed by the conservative National Action Party, which is also in office at the state level.