By JESSICA GUERRERO
MORELIA, Michoacán — For years, Mexican politics have been nurtured by high-profile personalities from different areas of Mexican society such as celebrities, businessmen, writers and prominent athletes. This situation, far from being caused by the scarcity of members of the political parties, is rather a strategic move by these institutions to attract voters on a large scale, taking advantage of the existing popularity of these individuals in the local media and within Mexican society.
Although most of these people often only run for legislative positions, some of them have managed to build an outstanding political career to the point of becoming governors, as happened with former Mexican soccer player, Cuauhtémoc Blanco, who, together with the Social Encounter Party (PES), won the 2018 governor race for the state of Morelos, located in the center of Mexico.
Despite the victory Blanco’s win represented for the PES, the greatest achievement in the party’s history in Mexican politics, the PES lost its national registration that same year, by failing to obtain the minimum 3 percent of the votes required in the elections.
From the get-go, Blanco’s administration has always been in the public eye. Although he had already started his political career years ago as the mayor of the municipality of Cuernavaca, in that same state, by becoming Morelos’ governor, he turned into an easy target for the media and other parties that would emphasize his lack of experience and preparation to hold a position of such importance.
The first two years of Blanco’s administration were far from perfect, since he became involved in numerous large-scale scandals. The first of them, in 2020, was when during the morning conference of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), the head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Santiago Nieto, announced an ongoing investigations known as Caso Primavera, in which it accused José Manuel Sanz Rivera, head of the Morelos Governor’s Office, of making unusual movements in his bank account for 741 million pesos and cash withdrawals for 122 million pesos.
Although two years have passed since this case first came to light, to date Blanco has not commented on the matter and it has not yet been determined whether he would be directly involved in the investigations. However, to this day, Blanco cannot be considered exempt from being related to this alleged embezzlement of funds from the public treasury, since his relationship with Sanz Rivera is very close and dates back a couple of decades, when Sanz Rivera used to manage the former football player’s career.
In parallel, the FIU is currently investigating Édgar Riou Pérez, Blanco’s first cousin and private secretary, for unexplained deposits to Blanco’s wife and half-brother in 2016, when he was still mayor of Cuernavaca. There was also a side investigation for other deposits made to the aforementioned individuals in 2019, when Blanco was already the governor of Morelos.
Likewise, the case of Jaime Tamayo Godínez, a close friend of Blanco, who, according to the data presented by the FIU, would have inexplicably received 558.2 million pesos in his bank accounts between 2013 and 2019, has been exposed.
As if all that were not enough, at the beginning of 2022, Blanco was exposed in national papers, after they published some leaked photographs in which Blanco appeared accompanied by alleged members of local criminal organizations that operate in the state of Morelos.
Despite all these scandals and allegations, Blanco has been able to play his cards smartly and get away with the presumptions that have weighed on him so far. His closeness and his good relationship with López Obrador have also recently allowed him not only to join the ranks of the president’s leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena), but also to form part of the party’s National Council in recent days.