Mexico Arrests Its 'Most Powerful Woman'
Elba Esther Gordillo accused of embezzling millions from union workers
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2013 7:25 AM CST
Mexico President Enrique Pena Nieto holds up an education reform proposal, taking on Elba Esther Gordillo, an iron-fisted union leader considered the country's most powerful woman.   (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)

(Newser) – She's known as Mexico's most powerful woman, and she's currently sitting in prison. Elba Esther Gordillo was arrested on corruption charges last night after landing near Mexico City in a private plane, reports the AP. It's things like private planes that appear to be the problem: The 68-year-old heads the country's 1.5 million-member teachers' union, which the BBC describes as Latin America's most powerful union, and prosecutors accuse her of embezzling more than $150 million from its funds to fund a lavish lifestyle of planes, $17,000 of plastic surgery, and designer clothing.

  • Gordillo allegedly used the funds to pay for two homes near San Diego; $2.1 million was also reportedly transferred to a Neiman Marcus account, reports the New York Times. The transactions are said to have occurred between 2008 and 2012.
  • Some $2 million of union money was allegedly funneled into accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, reports the AFP.
  • The AP notes that she was paid about $72,000 a year, but was known to wear $1,200 shoes and carry a $5,500 purse.
  • The BBC explains that the arrest came just a day after President Enrique Peña Nieto instituted sweeping reforms designed to mend a problematic teaching system, in which positions can be inherited, dead teachers are sometimes paid, and regular assessments aren't conducted. Gordillo was seen as a key obstacle to reform.

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Feb 28, 2013 12:47 AM CST
She will fit in here very well with our leaders, when she jumps the border.
Feb 27, 2013 2:50 PM CST
Finally. This puts all the other corrupters and bribers on notice. Hope it does some good for the people. 1942
Feb 27, 2013 11:16 AM CST
I suppose that is a step in the right direction. I hope Mexico can keep it going and root out more of their problems. It would be great if we didn't create powerful and rich drug cartels there. Maybe we can help out and correct that.