MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s MORENA party ratified late on Friday a gubernatorial candidate accused of rape, in a case that has fueled fiery protests and been a source of friction within the ruling party.
MORENA approved Felix Salgado Macedonio to run as governor for the state of Guerrero, following weeks of support from Lopez Obrador, who had described the calls for Salgado to step down amid the allegations as politically motivated.
Salgado has denied the allegations, according to Mexican media. He has not responded to Reuters requests for comment.
“The inaction of judicial authorities in cases of violence against women not only violates their rights, but also denies us, as a society, the right to truth and justice,” MORENA said in a statement.
“However, our political institute cannot place itself above the organs of justice, nor violate essential rights, such as the presumption of innocence,” it added.
Guerrero prosecutors are investigating one accusation of rape against Salgado, after earlier this year dropping a probe into another accusation that they say was filed too long after the alleged crime.
Salgado’s candidacy and Lopez Obrador’s support for him have caused friction within MORENA and helped whip up protests demanding justice for victims of violence and an end to Mexico’s crisis of femicide.
At marches to mark International Women’s Day on Monday, activists projected feminist slogans in bright lights across the facade of the presidential palace, which had been barricaded, including a message saying “a rapist will not be governor,” referring to Salgado.
“The ratification of Salgado Macedonio is an insult to Mexico, especially to Mexican women. Once again it has become clear that Lopez Obrador and MORENA do not care about women, their voice, nor their safety,” Adriana Aguilar, the head of women’s issues for the opposition National Action Party said on Twitter.
According to public policy think tank Mexico Evalua, which analyzed government data, five million women were victims of sexual violence in the second half of 2020 alone in Mexico, including harassment, sexual abuse, attempted rape or rape, the vast majority of which did not get reported.
(Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Sharay Angulo; Editing by William Mallard)