Controversial Soccer Star-Turned-Mayor Cuauhtémoc Blanco Stages Hunger Strike to Protest Impeachment

Lead Photo: Photo: EPA
Photo: EPA
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Mexican soccer legend Cuauhtémoc Blanco is back in the headlines after his unlikely political career landed him in the mayor’s office of an important state capital. Indeed, after taking over as Mayor of Cuernavaca – the medium-sized capital of Morelos state, just south of Mexico City – on January 1st of this year, the hot-tempered member of the Social Democratic Party has taken up a highly publicized hunger strike following his impeachment at the hands of the state legislature.

According to Blanco, his removal from office amounts to a political crucifixion by powerful institutional forces in the Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD), which has held considerable sway over Morelos for the past several years. Naming names, Blanco called out the current president of the statewide PRD Rodrigo Gayosso Cepeda, ex-mayor Manuel Martínez Garrigós, and several state legislators as the masterminds of a political conspiracy against his mandate.

Blanco’s impeachment came as the swift conclusion to a barrage of charges raised against him over the past two weeks, most of which were summarily blocked by a federal judge. However, his suspension and ultimate impeachment for “omission and action” – in this case, for allegedly not showing up enough to work and delegating responsibilities to his staff – was upheld, and within a week the state legislature approved his ouster. In a statement made to Reuters, the lawyer who filed the impeachment petition summed up general sentiment when he said, “He might be a good man, but he is not qualified to rule.”

Apparently Blanco doesn’t think that’s a good enough reason to upend the democratic process, and he rallied supporters to the Cuernavaca Cathedral, where he promises to remain camped out without food until he is reinstated and allowed to continue his work. While few see the 43-year-old ex-forward as a particularly outstanding politician, his high-profile protest is casting an international light on the powerful and often corrupt party machines that run local politics throughout Mexico.