The Mexican Teachers’ union is a preview of things to come in Obamerica. Not only is it insanely powerful and brutally violent, but it’s also a hereditary guild whose members sell their jobs or pass them on to their kids. Unsurprisingly the education system isn’t very good, but it is embedded.
The leftist PRI may have decided that they are the only ones who can confront the teachers’ union and the arrest of Elba Esther Gordillo is a major shot across the bow.
Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam accused Gordillo and her top aides of misusing more than 2.6 billion pesos – the equivalent of slightly more than $200 million – in union money.
Some of the money was wired to accounts in Switzerland, he said, while other funds were used on plastic surgery. Some $2.1 million was spent at the Neiman Marcus store in San Diego, Calif.
Authorities arrested Gordillo, 68, when she arrived near Mexico City on private jet from San Diego. Gordillo maintains a $1.6 million home in La Jolla, a San Diego suburb. Among the questionable expenditures that caught the attention of investigators, Murillo Karam said, were hangar rental and aircraft maintenance in San Diego.
Her detention marked a singular strike against the chief of a union that was once a pillar of support for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), and comes at a crucial early stage as President Enrique Pena Nieto, a PRI member who took office Dec. 1, seeks to enhance his public support.
Opinion polls often rank Gordillo as the least popular of major political figures in Mexico. While not holding elected office currently, she has been both a senator and deputy in Congress. She’s widely blamed for an educational system that has kept Mexican children scoring lower on standardized tests than most other countries of its size or importance.
Gordillo, who holds the lofty title of “president for life” of the 1.5 million-member teachers’ union, abandoned her unconditional support of the PRI in the last decade, when the PRI was out of power, and became a political broker, delivering votes to the parties and candidates of her choice.
And that may mean that this is less about reform and more about the PRI consolidating its control over the teachers’ union. Corruption in Mexico isn’t really prosecuted unless it’s convenient for other political interests.
Removing Gordillo and penalizing her can also be seen as a thuggish PRI move to remind the union who controls the country now.
Under Gordillo, who’s been in her position for 24 years, the union controlled the hiring of teachers. In some parts of Mexico, teachers’ jobs have been bought and sold, and the union rakes off money from salaries of phantom teachers.
In 2008, she bought 59 Hummers to give her aides in 2008, only to raffle them off when the media brought the purchase to light.
The United States isn’t really that much better off. We’re developing a Mexican style bureaucracy with powerful unions holding entire cities hostage in corrupt bids to enhance their own wealth and power.
“This is a woman who was able to successfully confront three successive presidents and to essentially block any attempt at reform, albeit cosmetic, in the education sector,” Mr. Guerra said. “This goes beyond education reform. This goes toward re-establishing the rule of the state.”