MEXICO CITY (AP) — A candidate for a governorship in southern Mexico has been confirmed as the nominee of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s Morena party despite nationwide protests over the fact two women accused him of rape.
Candidate Félix Salgado has not been charged; the statute of limitations ran out on one case and the other is still being investigated. But intense protests spawned by the accusations forced the party to hold a second poll to determine whether Salgado, already the nominee, should continue in the race.
The party announced late Friday that Salgado had won the second poll in Guerrero state for the nomination in the June 6 elections.
Morena said in a statement that “the people of Guerrero have made a decision. We are obliged to respect it.” Salgado has not spoken directly about the accusations, but his lawyer has denied them.
At his opening campaign rally Saturday, Salgado again avoided directly addressing the rape accusations, instead casting himself as the victim.
“I have always known that the price of fighting for the highest aspirations of the people is to suffer slander and defamation from those who oppose democracy,” Salgado said. “I have been the victim of a media and political lynching unprecedented in the history of Mexico.”
López Obrador was stung by protests against his administration over his refusal to break with Salgado. The president said the issue should be left up to voters in Guerrero and claims it is being brought up by his foes, “the conservatives.”
Salgado was the focus of many protesters in Mexico on International Women’s Day on Monday.
López Obrador also described the protests as “imported concepts, copies” of those in other countries.
Salgado, who goes by the nickname Toro, or “Bull,” is a former federal legislator and mayor of Acapulco who has been known for questionable behavior in the past. He was filmed scuffling with police in Mexico City in 2000.
Former Guerrero state prosecutor Xavier Olea told The Associated Press that the current governor of Guerrero, Hector Astudillo, ordered him in 2017 not to investigate one of the rape accusations against Salgado, though Astudillo has denied that.