Wednesday, November 15, 2006

January 23, 2005: Authorities suspend warrant against former opposition candidate in southern Mexico

Gabino Cue, an opposition candidate who narrowly lost the governorship election in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca to the ruling PRI party, remained free on Sunday after a theatrical attempt to turn himself over to authorities on embezzlement charges.

The charges relate to Cue's term as mayor of the state capital, also known as Oaxaca, where he and other officials allegedly failed to properly account for millions of dollars in city funds.

"I decided to confront the authorities that are persecuting me and defend my innocence," said Cue, who marched with his wife and more than a thousand supporters from the capital's central square to the state attorney general's office.

A spokesman for the attorney general emerged to say that the arrest warrant had been blocked.

Cue has said the charges against him are part of a campaign by Gov. Ulises Ruiz and former governor Jose Murat to crush his opposition movement.

In the three-way Oaxaca race held Aug. 1, Ruiz beat Cue, who represented a coalition of opposition parties, by a small margin.

But the voting was preceded and followed by a series of odd, violent events.

Prior to the election, Murat said he was the victim of a strange assassination attempt that some say was staged to gain sympathy.

Several days before the election, PRI supporters allegedly killed an opposition activist at a roadblock.

After the Aug. 1 election, peasants stormed and briefly seized a warehouse owned by an opposition newspaper.

Cue spoke only in vague terms on Sunday about the charges he faces, while accusing the governor of protecting Murat from questions about the curious pre-election assassination attempt.

With his term over as mayor, Cue has lost the immunity from prosecution he enjoyed as a public official.

"I thank the political parties that have fought against the political machine of Oaxaca," Cue said. "I will confront those who persecute me politically."

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