Elba Esther Gordillo, has been known as the most influential union leader of Mexico. It’s not only her, but the organization that she heads is a potentate pressure group in Latin America. The National Union of Education (SNTE) was founded in 1943. Apparently, the aim was to alter the gruesome picture of public education in Mexico. However, the means used to achieve this purpose involved the concentration of political power in the hands of regional teachers, which were scattered in different regions of the country. In 1989, Elba Esther Gordillo, became the chairwoman of this organization and brought about some reforms to ensure political freedom and legitimacy of the members associated with SNTE. Although she left the leading role in 1995, her policies were still practised, exhibiting her disguised dominance within SNTE.
Grodillo’s decision-making role that encompassed budgetary reforms and public spending was purported by the affiliation of some one million teachers. In 2003, she suffused her political network to construct the foundation of a new party, New Alliance Party (Partido Nueva Alianza) or PANAL. Her educational initiatives increased the rate of primary enrolment in Mexico, but most of the children never manage to receive secondary education. The promised ‘education revolution’ remained a Utopia for the Mexicans. Some of the young adults missing ‘primary education’ in Latin America still hail from Mexico and Brazil.
Only yesterday (February 26, 2013), President Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto had enacted a major reform of the education system that included new standards for hiring teachers. According to mexicoinstitute.wordpress.com, under the changes, a census is to establish the exact number of schools, teachers and pupils in the country. There was a view that these reforms also targeted the recalcitrant Elba Esther Gordillo and her gigantic teachers’ union.
Whether the reforms will bring the mentioned changes or not, requires both ‘time’ and ‘monitoring’. However, the instantaneous effect of this enactment has been manifested today (February 27, 2013) with the arrest of “la maestra” or “the teacher”. She is alleged to have embezzled more than $156m from union funds. The BBC News reported that Grodilla transferred the money to private accounts from union funds and used them for expensive cosmetic surgery and US private planes. It would be a bolt from the blue for the Mexican population if it is proved that the lady masquerading herself as ‘the teacher’ for the past 23 years was an embezzler of public money!
- Mexico’s ‘most powerful woman’ held (bbc.co.uk)
- Mexico arrests head of teacher’s union on suspicion of fraud (news.yahoo.com)
- La Maestra in detention (economist.com)
- Mexico’s ‘most powerful woman’ held (oddonion.com)
- Mexico arrests head of teacher’s union on fraud charges (Reuters) (newsdaily.com)
- Mexico’s arrested union leader started humble (miamiherald.com)