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Mexico Plays Hardball In Jailing Of Union Boss

It was a dizzying fall from power for a woman often credited with swinging a presidential election and who maintained properties worth millions of dollars in Southern California, where she spent much of her time.

Gordillo, 68, was charged with embezzling 2 billion pesos (about $160 million) from the union she has led for nearly a quarter century. The judge in the case said he would rule in three to six days on whether the evidence is sufficient to merit a trial.

If found guilty, Gordillo could face 30 years in prison.

Asked if he had other cases planned, Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam told the Televisa news network, "I don't have evidence as clear as in this case."

Still, analysts said other powerful figures will surely take notice.

"I think there will be more willingness to negotiate and accept" reforms "rather than engage in confrontation," said Crespo.

Pena Nieto went on television Tuesday night to say the case was strictly based on enforcing the rule of law.

"This investigation has to be pursued to the very end but always adhering to the rule of law," he said, without referring to Gordillo by name.

The president also spoke directly to the millions of teachers in the two-minute national broadcast, saying his government will support them and respect the union's autonomy.

"My government will continue to be your ally and will continue to work to improve the conditions in which you carry the high mission of educating tomorrow's citizens," he said.

With education reform now enacted, Pena Nieto is also proposing to open the state oil company to more private investment, a move that could awaken opposition from the oil workers union. The administration is also proposing measures to bring more competition in the highly concentrated television and telecom sectors, steps that business magnates have long tried to stymie with court appeals.

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