Chihuahua´s governor denounces Government reprisals for PRI corruption investigation

By Elliot Bullman

A Mexican governor said Monday that the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto was denying his state vital resources in order to quash a corruption investigation that reaches the highest ranks of the nation’s governing party.

Chihuahua Governor Javier Corral, of the centre-right opposition National Action Party (PAN), said the ministry of finance was pressuring the northern border state because of its probe into the administration of his PRI predecessor Cesar Duarte.

Javier CorralPhoto Credits: Website Azteca Noticias

Javier Corral claims he was promised millions of dollars last December by the federal government to help fill budget shortfalls in his state, which is in the midst of a financial crisis. But the federal Ministry of Finance has refused to deposit most of the funds, Mr. Corral told a news conference on Monday in Mexico City.

The case in question has the potential to be explosive: State prosecutors in Chihuahua are examining the alleged embezzlement of more than $10 million in public funds which they allege were diverted to the states coffers to finance the campaigns of candidates from the president’s political party.

The case has already ensnared more than two dozen people, including an ally of the president and a high-ranking member of his party, Alejandro Gutiérrez, who is accused of operating the embezzlement scheme nationwide.

After noticing the holdup in federal transfers, Corral said, he and aides held a meeting with top ministry officials in Mexico City on the evening of Jan. 4 to discuss the impasse. There, Corral added, the Chihuahua delegation was told that his state’s investigation into alleged corruption had called “into question the mechanism of how funds are transferred,” for which reason the ministry decided to withhold the money.

Javier Corral 2Photo Credits: Website El Pionero

The governor said he had stood firm, saying he believed they were two separate issues. One was the abuse of public funds for political purposes, which took place under the last governor, who was a star member of the president’s party. The other involved the signed agreements from Dec. 14 promising nearly $5 million in federal funds to fill a state budget hole.

“We are aware we struck at the modus operandi of political corruption in Mexico, but the difference is that we have accounted for it technically and legally,” Mr. Corral said. “We won’t give up the fight to break the pact of impunity, regardless of the retaliation and punishment.”

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