Saturday, October 25, 2014

Family ties, nepotism suggest nothing has changed in Iguala

"If the government continues repressing rural school students, the people will have the last word"

*Updated Oct. 30*
Iguala de la Independencia, Guerrero -
Twenty-five days after the mayor of this town and his wife vanished from public view, whereabouts yet unknown, many here say nothing will ever change.

Thirty days after 43 college students were kidnapped by corrupt police and cartel executioners, there is an unspoken consensus that Iguala's black history will continue uninterrupted, no matter who is in charge.

Earlier this week Mexico's attorney general told the nation that mayor José Luis Abarca Velázquez and his wife, María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa, set into motion the events which in all probability resulted in the students' brutal murders on Sept. 26. The Abarcas have not been seen since Sept. 30, but the federal government has issued arrest warrants for both, together with Iguala's former public security director, Abarca's cousin.

But at least 30 relatives of Abarca and Pineda hold key posts in the county and city governments, both of the same name. Those family members control administrative operations from top to bottom, and have an iron lock on expenditures and budgetary matters.

Javier Abarca, the former mayor's brother, is in charge of public works projects and the distribution of fuel supplies. The latter is a critical issue in Mexico, where scarcities often prevail in rural areas.

Lucero Muñoz de Abarca, the former mayor's sister-in-law, is in charge of Iguala's DIF, the local unit of Mexico's National System for Integral Family Development. DIF is a social agency which focuses on the welfare of Mexican families. By long tradition its national director is the First Lady of Mexico. Former actress Angélica Rivera, wife of president Enrique Peña Nieto, currently holds the post.

Ironically, a family welfare speech María Pineda was preparing to deliver the evening of Sept. 26 may have prompted the missing students' kidnappings. She and Abarca apparently feared they were outside political agitators, determined to disrupt the event and embarrass the local administration.

Another brother of Abarca is chief of Municipal Code Enforcement, while his daughter holds a post on the Iguala Water Commission. Her husband in turn works for a county department which oversees and regulates livestock slaughtering and processing, an important local industry.

Abarca's son-in-law is county Human Resources Director, while one of the former mayor's cousins is in charge of the Vehicle Control Department. Others occupy similar administrative posts throughout the county and city governments. None of them are in danger of losing their jobs.

Even at the state level, the specter of unbridled corruption continues. On Oct. 16 Guerrero Governor Ángel Aguirre Rivero fired Public Health Secretary Dr. Lázaro Mazón, "until such time as he explains to investigators his relationship with Mayor Abarca." But two days later the state congress voted to name Luis Mazón Alonso, the secretary's brother, as the new interim mayor of Iguala. On Oct. 24 Luis Mazón announced that he had decided to accept the post, "even though my brother advised against it."

Governor Aguirre resigned Thursday afternoon.

Oct. 30 - Just hours after he took office, Luis Mazón submitted his resignation to Iguala's city council yesterday, claiming that 40% of its members were against him. "Nobody in Iguala wants to work for the betterment of the community. They're all out for themselves, for their personal interests," he said. Mazón, a member of the ultra left National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) founded by former presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador in September 2012, was widely expected to run for Guerrero's governor next year.

© MGR 2014. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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