The Good, the Bad and … the Gold-Medal Winner

Former Mexican Social Development Secretary and former Secretary of Agrarian and Urban Territorial Development Rosario Robles Berlanga. Photo:


Now and then, you have a woman in Mexican politics hit the headlines. But what was most unusual on Monday. Aug. 12, and early Tuesday, Aug. 13, was to have three ladies in politics in less than 24 hours grab media coverage. Whoever had doubts that women are advancing in strides in politically impossible macho-land had better think again.

The three making the news were former government official Rosario Robles, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum and tack-and-field running star Ana Guevara, head of the Mexican Sports Committee. Taking the news involving them backwards, on early Tuesday morning, Rosario was thrown in jail for at least two months while on trial, Sheinbaum on Monday evening confronted her first truly agressive feminist rebellion, and early Monday, Guevara presented Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) with the medals – gold, silver and bronze – Mexican competitors won in the Lima Pa nAmerican Games that ended on Sunday, Aug. 11.

So let’s start with Rosario Robles:

Federal Judge Jesús Delgadillo determined to send to prison without bail the former secretary of Social Development (Sedesol) and Agricultural, Territorial and Urban Development (Sedatu) under President Enrique Peña Nieto’s shift (2012-2018), charged with the crime of “omission” of responsibility (she knew but failed to do anything to stop it) for the 5,073-million-peso fraud found in her Sedesol and Sedatu management by Superior Federation Audit, the government’s budgeting watchdog.

For starters, the judge slapped Robles with a “justified preventive prison term” of two months for her to stand trial and prevent a possible get away during the trial.

The imprisonment without bail was also carried out because, according to the accusing attorneys belonging to the Fiscal General of the Republic (FGR), she was served citations twice in recent months but they were unable to find her.

Robles’ defense lawyers requested that she stand trial in freedom and for the judge to withhold her passport, but Judge Delgadillo said that she had just obtained a driver’s license and “she has enough resources to stay in hiding.” He added that “taking away her passport makes no sense, it would not prevent her from going into hiding within the nation.”

The sentencing came after a grueling 12 hours of questioning that began Monday evening at 6 p.m. and ended Tuesday morning at 6 a.m. Rosario Robles was immediately transported to the Santa Martha Acatitla Women Inmates Jail.

Just as Robles was going into the courthouse Monday evening, a group of women went to the Attorney General’s Office to protest police sexual abuse of women they are supposed to protect.

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum was forced to make an appearance after the women had vandalized the Mexico City Attorney General’s Office building, shattering glass doors and painting the outside walls with graffiti.

The demonstration began with a few dozen women at around 4 p.m., but by 7 p.m., the crowd had grown into hundreds, with several women wearing police uniforms, police caps and painted moustaches.

The organization of this march began on Aug. 9. after a young underage girl accused one of the guards of a downtown Mexico City photography museum of rape. The official was arrested and confessed to consensual sex with the minor, who held to her charge of rape.

The case went viral on the web, and more women appeared, also charging policemen with rape and sexual harassment over the past months, with police authorities not proceeding against the accused officers. They also claimed that the accusations had been “leaked to the press” to pressure accusing women to step back and drop charges.

Mexico City Attorney General Ernestina Godoy declined to talk to representatives of the protesting women, causing even further outrage and physical protest.

Finally, Sheinbaum held a press conference to decry the violence shown by the protesting women.

“This was not a protest, this was a provocation,” Sheinbaum said. “(The women) wanted for the government to respond with violence (repression), but we will not do it that way, but with justice. There would have been an escalation of violence had we intervened (with force), but that’s something we’re not going to do.”

Sheinbaum added that if the accusers had proof that there were leaks to scare the women plaintiffs, they should register a formal accusation and proceed according to the law.

She also said that those with violent behavior — “we have identified them” — would be charged with vandalism. As for the cost of repairing the buildings, she said the government has insurance coverage for cases like this.

Will Sheinbaum actually file charges against the dozens of women allegedly raped by cops? We’ll wait and see, but most likely not.

And early Monday morning, the director of the National Committee for Physical Culture and Sports (Conade) Ana Guevara joined AMLO at the National Palace to present him with a gold medal for having given full support to the entourage that traveled to the Pan American Games in Lima in appreciation for his financial support.

Guevara, who early in the summer complained of a total shortage of funds at Conade – “we don’t even have money to meet the electricity bill” – was all praise for AMLO, who accepted the gold medal awarded him.

The final tally of the Mexican delegation at the games was 136 medals (37 gold, 36 silver and 63 bronze), all possible because of the presidential support.

AMLO announced that, as of Thursday, Aug. 15, the medal winners and coaches would start receiving 200 million pesos, the product of the sale last Sunday of properties (including the Lomas mansion that belonged to Zhenli Ye Gon that netted 102 million) confiscated from alleged organized crime groups now in jail. Gold winners will get 40,000 pesos a month, silvers 35,000 pesos a month and bronzes 25,000 pesos a month.

No doubt about it, ladies are dominating the news in Mexico these days.


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