It was an ominous phrase with which new Nayarit state Gov. Antonio Echevarría García began his acceptance speech in Tepic Tuesday:
“Today Nayarit recovers its dignity.”
Among the more than 1,400 attendees at the Chumacero Theater was Nayarit outgoing Governor Roberto Sandoval who during the past week has been the object of offenses and insults. Crowds shouted “thief” at him both during the Cry of Independence ceremony on last Friday and again during the official military parade on Saturday Sept. 16.
Sandoval has been under the dirty politician limelight for months as the Federal Attorney General (PGR) is officially investigating him for a number of crooked acts too long to enumerate here, but surely, if found guilty, he will join the growing cadre of at least six Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) former state governors now either in jail, on the run or waiting for extradition from other nations.
In fact, Sandoval was expecting to join the many governors who have fled the nation just days before leaving office, but saw his intent shot down. A month ago, Sandoval enrolled himself to visit Los Angeles and participate in a pure breed Spanish horse exhibition show. He ordered his plane tickets but much to his surprise he found out that the U.S. Embassy in Mexico had cancelled his tourist visa so he had to stay in Tepic.
It is now a matter of days or weeks before PGR summons him to declare on accusations made against him, the worst of which was permitting organized crime gang Jalisco New Generation to set roots in the state and control drug trafficking, particularly along the tourist area known as Riviera Nayarit which is abode to a few thousand mostly U.S. residents who bought properties along it, right north of Puerto Vallarta along the Pacific coastline.
The new “Toño” Echevarría state administration also marks the beginning of a very bad omen for PRI, as Echevarría won the last June election clearly but with the support of four political parties including the National Action (PAN) and Democratic Revolution (PRD) parties whose presidents, Ricardo Anaya and Alejandra Carrales, respectively, attended the swearing in ceremony.
Given upcoming changes in the political electoral program, Echevarría will only govern for four years as the next election for governor will be in tandem with midterm elections in 2021.
For sure, Sandoval leaves behind a state under convulsion with a visible debt of nearly 5 billion pesos but of which Echevarría said he would know the real amount once his auditors are finished with the audit.
Another stain in the Sandoval record and a major political scandal since last year was the arrest of his appointed State Prosecutor Edgar Veytia, who was arrested at the Tijuana-San Diego border crossing and charged with grand scale drug trafficking (heroin, cocaine, meth and grass) and is now in jail in New York waiting for a decision. His next appearance in court will be on Sept. 26 in which his defense lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman says they might come up with a negotiated 10 year sentence as he’s been cooperative with U.S. authorities.
Sandoval, who now leads “a sumptuous life,” according to daily Tepic newspaper El Sol de Nayarit, is known in the city as being of lowly economic origins, as his father was a butcher. Sandoval migrated undocumented to LA where he worked as a cleaning boy among other menial chores. He returned to his native Nayarit where he finally got to make a shady political career which got him as far as being governor.
But now Sandoval, besides owning several high production farms and a large number of Spanish pure-breed horses (they sell from $100 to 150 thousand dollars) and a number of properties, will be part of the PGR investigation.
Like all other former governors, Sandoval rejects any mention of corruption under his administration.
But Echevarría said in his inaugural speech that he is receiving a sacked government, bankrupt, “and we will let the citizenry know how we received this government” from Sandoval.
Now the question is will PGR look the other way while Roberto Sandoval flees the nation? It will come as no surprise if it does.