Mexican Union Leader Arrested

    FILE - In this Friday July 14, 2006 file photo, teachers' union head Elba Esther Gordillo gestures as she arrives to attend a meeting with education workers a day after being expelled from Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party in Mexico City. Gordillo, the head of Mexico's powerful teachers' union, was arrested at an airport outside Mexico City on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, for alleged embezzlement, with federal officials accusing her using union funds to pay for plastic surgery, buy a private plane and even pay her bill at Neiman Marcus. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, file)

    Teachers' union leader Elba Esther Gordillo in 2006. (Dario Lopez-Mills/AP)

    Mexico union leader Elba Esther Gordillo, who has been called the country’s “most powerful woman,” was arrested on Wednesday on allegations that she embezzled $156 million from union funds. Gordillo is the head of the 1.5 million-member Mexican teachers’ union, SNTE, and has been dogged by rumors of fraud for years, although this is the first time charges have been brought against her. Gordillo is being accused of “systematic embezzlement” of union accounts between 2008 and 2012, and of using the money for property, trips to the U.S., and plastic surgery. Gordillo’s wealthy union has led the fight against Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s education reforms, which SNTE has claimed will lead to massive layoffs and the privatization of education.

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