Fugitive Former Mexico City Mayor Surfaces in Nicaragua

Article excerpt

The Mexican government has requested the extradition of former Mexico City mayor Oscar Espinosa Villarreal, who is charged with corruption.

Espinosa went into hiding in August rather than face charges that he embezzled and mismanaged 428 million pesos (US$45.5 million) in city funds during his tenure as Mexico City mayor in 1994-1997 (see SourceMex, 2000-08-16).

The former mayor's whereabouts remained unknown for months until he surfaced in Managua in late November. Espinosa turned himself in to authorities and immediately requested political asylum.

Espinosa, a member of the long-governing Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), contends that he has been unfairly targeted by the center-left Partido de la Revolucion Democratica (PRD), which has held the Mexico City mayoral post since 1997.

"I have not committed any crime," Espinosa told reporters. "I am the victim of political persecution by the PRD."

But Espinosa is not likely to succeed in his asylum request. The motion has been opposed both by the administration of Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Aleman and by members of the opposition Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional (FSLN).

"He is being accused of common crime, and it would a legal distortion to declare him a political refugee," said Jaime Morales Carazo, an aide to Aleman.

FSLN leader Daniel Ortega echoed Morales' statements. …