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BRIEF

Mexico Governor to Resign Amid Corruption Allegations

ELITES AND CRIME / 12 OCT 2016 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

The governor of the Mexican state of Veracruz announced his intention to leave office just weeks before his term ends to face corruption charges, but his resignation is unlikely to signal a purge of corrupt politicians by the Mexican government.

On October 12, Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte said during an interview with Televisa that he would ask the state legislature to accept his resignation, reported Animal Político.

In September, federal prosecutors opened corruption investigations of Duarte related to allegations of illegal enrichment, embezzlement, and breach of duty. A recent investigation by Animal Político found that, under Duarte, the Veracruz government issued more than 40 public contracts for services that were never rendered.

"Precisely due to this situation [of allegations], I have decided today to ask the state congress for leave from the position of state governor," Duarte said.

Veracruz "needs a full-time governor," he added. "And I need time to address these complaints."

Duarte has denied any wrongdoing, saying he has not taken "one cent" from public funds during his term.

"I am not rich, I am someone who has worked his entire life," he said.  

Duarte became Veracruz governor in December 2010, and his term was set to end November 30. He was a member of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional – PRI), but had his party membership suspended after he came under investigation for corruption.  

In June, Duarte's former party lost Veracruz's gubernatorial elections, ending over 80 years of PRI control of the state. In addition to his administration's alleged corruption, Duarte has been blamed for increasing Veracruz's state debt and failing to contain rising drug-related violence.

Duarte said he would not flee or leave Veracruz, but will stand and face the corruption allegations.

InSight Crime Analysis

Rather than signaling a genuine effort by the PRI and Mexican government to root out corruption among the political class, Duarte's resignation may be the result of top officials wanting to make an example of him to offer proof that they are tackling corruption.

SEE ALSO: InDepth: Elites and Organized Crime

Indeed, Duarte is only one of a number of politicians in Mexico who have been linked to corrupt activity, many whom never face justice for their alleged crimes. For instance, two former governors of Tamaulipas have been indicted by the United States in recent years, with Mexico apparently doing little to track them down.

Yet Duarte may have found himself in the position of being made a scapegoat for generalized government corruption.

During Duarte's time in office, Veracruz has made little progress regarding government efforts to confront violence, extortion, disappearances, and drug trafficking -- all of which makes the governor an easy target. He is all the more dispensable given that his record likely contributed to the PRI's loss of Veracruz's governorship in the recent elections, something that was sure to anger the party establishment given their long history of ruling the state. 

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