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Re-elected teachers union leader says working mothers to blame for crime

October 29, 2012

Elba Esther Gordillo will remain president of Mexico’s National Educational Workers Union (SNTE) for another six years, having won re-election.

The only candidate on the ballot, Gordillo garnered 3,205 votes, with none against her and 22 voting slips left blank. The SNTE is the largest union in Latin America, representing some 1.7 million teachers.

Gordillo has headed the union since 1989 and will now remain in charge until at least 2018. A highly controversial figure, she has been widely criticized for fiercely resisting reforms to public education, while amassing great personal wealth from her position of power.

Despite being widely considered Mexico’s most powerful woman, Gordillo slammed women for straying from their traditional role as mothers and housewives in an open letter published in Spanish-language daily Reforma last week.

Gordillo blamed working mothers on the rise in murders, drug addiction and “the deterioration of society” in Mexico. Some might consider the country’s deeply flawed public education system – over which Gordillo presides – to share responsibility for such problems, but she alleged that “the abandonment of the mother in the rearing of children has turned schools into daycare centers, given teachers sole responsibility for education and emptied education of any substance.”

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