By MARK LORENZANA
Mexican Judge Bárbara Melissa Gómez on Saturday, June 11, removed former Nuevo León governor and presidential candidate Jaime “El Bronco” Rodríguez Calderón from preventive detention and placed him under house arrest.
Rodríguez Calderón will now face the two current criminal proceedings against him at home and will not be brought back to the prison in Apodaca, Nuevo León, where he was detained after his arrest on Tuesday, March 15, in the municipality of General Terán.
On May 1, Rodríguez Calderón was transferred from his detention cell to the José Eleuterio González University Hospital for digestive problems, and on May 20, had undergone a three-hour surgery to remove a part of his digestive tract affected by diverticulitis, a gastrointestinal disease.
Rodríguez Calderón is currently facing two criminal charges: one for alleged embezzlement and misappropriation of government funds after he was accused of diverting public resources to collect signatures to validate his independent candidacy for president in 2018, and another for alleged abuse of authority for requisitioning the private transit company that has, since 2012, operated the integrated transport system Ecovía when he was still serving as governor of Nuevo León in 2016, claiming a series of failures and irregularities in Ecovía’s rapid transit bus, which provides service to the metropolitan area of Monterrey, the capital and largest city of Nuevo León.
“My client has been freed of any preventive detention, and will continue with the proceedings from home,” Gabriel García Pérez, Rodríguez Calderón’s lawyer, stated. The judge’s resolution, the lawyer said, ended the 88 days in which Rodríguez Calderón was in preventive detention. “It was an arduous road, a very complicated road for my client and for his family, but, fortunately, we were able to resolve this situation,” García Pérez said.
Adalina Dávalos Martínez, wife of Rodríguez Calderón, is happy that her husband is out of preventive detention, saying that she and her children can now accompany him while he is recovering from his surgery. She said that in preventive detention, the family could only visit Rodríguez Calderón for an hour.
Known for his uncompromising stance against organized crime, Rodríguez Calderón was elected governor of Nuevo León, a state in the northeast region of Mexico, in 2015, as an independent candidate. He served as governor through 2017, when he formally became a candidate in the 2018 presidential race, which he lost to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO).
Rodríguez Calderón’s 2018 candidacy was initially rejected in March of that year by the National Electoral Institute’s (INE) Committee of Prerogatives and Political Parties for not meeting the minimum number of signatures required to become an independent candidate. The INE, however, granted Rodríguez Calderón the right to appeal the decision to leave him out of the ballot sheets, and a month later was approved by the Electoral Court as an official independent candidate on the presidential electoral ballot.
On Sept. 25, 2019, Mexico’s Federal Electoral Tribunal approved the validity of sanctioning Rodríguez Calderón for allegedly using 572 state employees to gather signatures for his 2018 candidacy.