Mexicans are fed up with corrupt, fugitive governors escaping justice
Despite being handcuffed at the wrists and flanked by Interpol agents, fugitive Mexican governor Javier Duarte wore a disconcerting grin moments after his arrest in Guatemala on Saturday. It was the smirk, many Mexicans observed, of a man accustomed to getting away with it.
Having allegedly embezzled 55 billion pesos ($2.97 billion) in public funds in just six years, the portly 43-year-old former governor of Veracruz state has come to personify the rampant corruption and impunity that plague Mexican politics. Yet analysts say his arrest, like that of Tomás Yarrington, another fugitive ex-governor captured in Italy six days earlier, is an example of “selective justice” that will do nothing to solve these deep-rooted problems.
Six months after fleeing the country with the alleged support of dozens of political allies, Duarte was caught at an exclusive hotel beside Lake Atitlán where he and his wife had been staying under false names and paying in cash. Duarte, who has always maintained his innocence, now faces extradition to Mexico, where he stands accused of money laundering and organized crime.
On Monday, President Enrique Peña Nieto, who had previously called Duarte his friend and lauded him as part of a “new generation” in the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), called the arrests “a firm and forceful message from the Mexican state against impunity.”
Yet the Mexican public is not convinced. Both fugitives were captured in Interpol-led operations after managing to slip out of Mexico undetected. Duarte fled Veracruz in a government helicopter allegedly lent to him by his interim successor, while Yarrington reportedly had eight state police officers assigned to protect him even after five years on the lam…