Yes, you read that title correctly. The small municipality of San Agustín Amatengo in the Mexican state of Oaxaca has recently attracted national attention due to what is likely the strangest story in electoral politics in the country.
On July 7, Lenin Carballido, the candidate from a Partido Acción Nacional (National Action Party—PAN)-Partido de la Revolución Democrática (Party of the Democratic Revolution—PRD)-Partido del Trabajo (Labor Party—PT) coalition, raised his arms in victory after winning the race for municipal president (mayor).
But this should have been impossible: an official death certificate announced Carballido’s demise in 2010 from a diabetic coma.
As national newspaper REFORMA reports, the story is even more complex because investigations suggest that Carballido faked his own death to avoid facing charges of gang-raping a 30-year-old woman in the capital city of Oaxaca in March 2004.
On October 12, 2010, a judge issued a warrant for Carballido’s arrest based on “unequivocal proof that the subject at hand [Carballido], using physical violence, assisted by others and against her will, raped [the woman, whose name was withdrawn].” However, the charges were dropped when a public defender informed the judge that Carballido had died that September and thus, could not be apprehended.
Less than three years later, Carballido was healthy enough to run an effective political campaign and narrowly beat his opponent, Alfredo Jiménez Ordaz, a candidate supported by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (Institutional Revolutionary Party—PRI) and Partido Verde Ecologista de México (Green Ecologist Party of Mexico—PVEM). Granted, Carballido only beat Jiménez by 11 votes—but it was an impressive result for a guy who had supposedly died three years earlier.This story, fit for “Ripley’s Believe it or Not”, illustrates Mexican political parties’ lax policies for vetting candidates, as well as those of Oaxaca’s state electoral body, which accepted Carballido’s candidacy. One would expect that criminal background checks would be part of these processes—let alone ensuring that candidates are not officially dead.
Oaxaca’s Congress has asked the state attorney general’s office to re-issue its arrest warrant for Carballido. Since the story became public, the leader of the PRD in Oaxaca, Rey Morales, has told the press that the PRD was “analyzing the situation in order to determine if they can impede Carballido from taking office,” adding that the candidate “deceived the party, electoral authorities and the citizenry.” Lenin Carballido has not been available for comment.
If we’re going to have zombies running around and campaigning, they should at least be subject to our rule of law.