MEXICO CITY -- State governors in Mexico like to choose their successors. They almost always pick their party’s candidates and then work tirelessly to see them elected. It is a way to be sure the next guy watches your back. Or so the thinking goes.
That may be the lesson that the embattled former governor of Tabasco, Andres Granier, is learning.
A member of the powerful Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Granier is the subject of a criminal investigation into the alleged embezzlement of millions of dollars from state coffers during his administration, which ended in December.
The charges were first made by his successor, Gov. Arturo Nuñez, who heads a coalition of leftist parties and who says he received a pilfered state treasury.
After more than 30 hours of interrogation by federal prosecutors, Granier was to be turned over to Tabasco investigators on Friday. Certainly a dire fate: federal authorities work under a PRI government; the state’s counterparts, for the left. Already, Granier’s former state treasurer, Jose Sainz, sits in jail in the Tabasco capital of Villahermosa as part of the same case.
However, Granier, 65, suddenly fell ill Friday morning, complained of chest pains and was rushed to a Mexico City hospital, lawyers and prosecutors in tow. He evades, for now, a potentially ignoble return to Tabasco.
Granier, who earlier in the week came to Mexico City from his home in Miami to meet with the authorities, has maintained his innocence. His lawyer, Eduardo Luengo, on Friday insisted that Granier has every intention to undergo questioning in Tabasco in order to clear his name. It’s just not clear when.
Meanwhile, Tabasco authorities, learning Granier was in the hospital, issued an order equivalent to house arrest, ensuring he will be guarded while recuperating and until he reports to Tabasco.
Nuñez, the new governor, denied Granier’s assertion that he was the victim of a political witch hunt. “This is not about political parties,” Nuñez said. “This is about honesty and dishonesty in the handling of public funds.”
The newspaper Reforma reported that federal prosecutors had determined that nearly $80 million was missing out of the monies that the federal government supplied Tabasco, one of Mexico’s poorest states, during the Granier administration.
The case is seen as an important test of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s commitment to stamping out the kind of endemic corruption that the PRI enshrined during seven decades of virtually unchallenged rule. Peña Nieto in December became the first PRI president in 12 years.