By RICARDO CASTILLO
Mexican senate candidate Nestora Salgado has filed slander and defamation charges against Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) presidential candidate José Antonio Meade. During the May 20 presidential debate, Meade said that “criminal kidnapper” Nestora and Miners and Metal Workers’ Union leader Napoleón Gómez were “convicts” who did not have the right to become legislators.
Fake news on the part of candidate Meade? You bet, but it seems to be reeling water to his mill.
Stemming out of very different social strata, both Nestora and Napoleón are in the crux of political debate nowadays, so much so that another presidential hopeful, Ricardo Anaya, has also picked up the discourse and made it his own. Using the accusation against the National Regeneration Movement (Morena) plurinominal senatorial candidates is said to be hurting the real objective of the attacks against Nestora and Napoleón, which was to damage the prestige of frontrunner in the polls Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), who made them candidates.
National Electoral Institute (INE) President Lorenzo Córdova claims he does not understand why hopefuls Meade and Anaya are using these two candidates alleged “guilt” to attack AMLO.
The two, Córdova said, meet the requirements to be plurinominal candidates and that both met all requirements for those who have double-nationality. (NOTE: A plurinominal candidate is appointed by a political party and automatically elected, without having to be voted into the seat.) Córdova also said that “if anyone is not happy about them, they can present the appropriate charges against them.” Of course, nobody will and in a plus in Mexican law, nobody can be tried twice for the same charge (no double jeopardy). “The INE checked them out and found both to be eligible,” Córdova said.
Another side of the Nestora and Napoleón candidacies is that Nestora is a U.S. citizen and Napoleón a Canadian citizen.
After the “accusations” launched by Meade and Anaya, Morena presidential candidate AMLO had to come in the defense of both plurinominal senate candidates, stating that the reasons why they were nominated and will sit in the Senate representing Morena in the next six-year senate term is because both had a clean legal slate and had been unfairly accused of crimes they did not commit.
Back in 2013, Nestora, after spending many years of hard work in Renton, Washington, returned to her hometown of Olinalá in the state of Guerrero (not to confuse with craft-making Olinalá in Michoacan) where she became a “commander” of a community police. After making several arrests of girls who were peddling drugs, the Mexican Army swooped down, arrested her and sent her to a maximum security prison for two and a half years. After that period, her case went to court and a judge exonerated her of all charges.
Napoleón, on the other hand, was accused of “diverting” $55 million dollars to his pockets by opposing union leaders. He fled the nation in 2013 and was granted political asylum in Canada. (He still lives in Vancouver.) He was tried in absentia and also found not guilty and exonerated of the charges.
“Like me, they have been politically persecuted by the mafia in power and that’s why they deserve to be senators for Morena,” said AMLO in their defense over the weekend.
“We will not allow convicts in the Senate,” hammered out Meade in response, and Anaya added that both their cases should be reopened. It is highly unlikely that either of them will be summoned to appear before a court to respond for these allegations.
In the midst of the heated electoral fray, Meade admitted that deep down he had nothing against either Nestora or Napoleón and that his real objective was gaining ground on the apparently unreachable AMLO lead. He deemed Nestora and Napoleón’s candidacies as “collateral damage.”
But these accusations – which will surely change in the remaining month of electioneering which ends on June 27 – are neither the last nor the worst. Trailing candidates Meade and Anaya (third and second in the polls, respectively) will keep on drilling to undermine AMLO’s lead.
Is this dirty politicking? It clearly is, but as that old adage goes, all is fair in love and war.