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By MARK LORENZANA

The political team of Mexican Foreign Relations (SRE) Secretary Marcelo Ebrard has filed a complaint of possible electoral crimes before Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (FGR) against the people behind the #EsClaudia presidential campaign of Mexico City Governor Claudia Sheinbaum.

In December of 2022, a silhouette of what appeared to be Sheinbaum’s head, along with the hashtag and slogan #EsClaudia, started cropping up in billboards not just in Mexico City, but also in the cities of Puebla, Morelia, Reynosa, Tijuana, Chihuahua and Guadalajara, among others. Paintings and graffiti of the image and the hashtag on building walls and facades have also made the rounds in the capital.

The complaint was filed by Alberto Esteva, a member of Ebrard’s political team, against Rigoberto Salgado, secretary of inclusion and social welfare of the Mexico City Government, and Érika García, territorial director, accusing them of misuse of public resources and coercion to allegedly benefit Sheinbaum politically, in her bid for the 2024 presidency of Mexico.

Sheinbaum and Ebrard, along with Senator Ricardo Monreal and Interior (Segob) Secretary Adán Augusto López Hernández, are all considered to be in the running as the standard bearer for the presidency under the banner of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena).

Needless to say, Sheinbaum’s aggressive early campaigning has caused some friction within the Morena ranks, especially with the other presidential candidates or — as López Obrador fondly calls them — “corcholatas.”

Included in the complaint by Esteva was an alleged event that Salgado and García specifically organized for Sheinbaum’s presidential campaign, which was held at the Álvaro Obregón Mayor’s Office on Dec. 17, for which “tarps, chairs, tables, sound equipment and other resources” were used. The source of the funding for the event, however, the complaint detailed, “is unknown,” thus the charge of possible “misuse of public resources.”

On the other hand, the charge of “coercion” stemmed from what the Ebrard team said it believes the possible coercion of members of Mexico City’s Pilares Program — which has government centers throughout the capital where community programs are held — to promote Sheinbaum’s presidential bid against their will. Esteva has asked the FGR to investigate whether members of the Pilares Program are being forcefully summoned to attend campaign events for Sheinbaum, in exchange for continued support by the Mexico City Government.

It is worth mentioning, however, that as early as Dec. 2, Mexico’s National Electoral Institute (INE), through its Complaints and Denunciations Commission, had already ordered Sheinbaum and her supporters to stop their early campaigning — specifically to refrain from painting political slogans on walls and facades, and to stop pre-campaigning on social media.

At that time, Sheinbaum called the INE “undemocratic and conservative,” insisting that there had been no early campaigning and propaganda from her offfice and from her supporters.

On Wednesday, Dec. 28, Emmanuel Reyes Carmona, a Morena deputy and supporter of Ebrard’s presidential candidacy, said that Sheinbaum’s billboards that were propped up in various parts of Mexico “could have cost at least 20 million pesos,” and her aggressive early campaigning could backfire and could eventually put her candidacy at risk.

For his part, Morena President Mario Delgado said he believes the presidential candidates should be given free rein to promote themselves, but to keep in mind the INE’s rules.

“The candidates have their own platforms that give them visibility, and they have an assignment,” said Delgado on Wednesday, Jan. 4. “The people are informed and alert, and they can evaluate the work that the candidates are doing. They will have to decide for themselves in due time.”

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