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Elba Esther Gordillo, the singularly repugnant leader of Mexico’s teachers’ union, turns 68 today as most sources in Mexico begin to write her political epitaph. The first signs came early in Peña Nieto’s presidency, with the designation of La Maestra‘s enemy, Emilio Chuayffet, as Education Minister. The subsequent educational reform, ratified this week by more than 50% of state congresses, sought to weaken her control over teaching, imposing new standards and greater transparency in teacher evaluation. It is becoming increasingly clear that the current powers-that-be in the PRI are uninterested in reestablishing the longtime alliance with her that was ruptured during last year’s presidential campaign, as recent nominations in Baja California seem to illustrate. If this is indeed the end, Elba Esther has had a long, if not admirable, career. Among other episodes, in 2006 she offered her support (or rather, the votes she controlled) to Calderón after López Obrador refused to bargain, and that likely proved the difference in the election.

Her defeat will certainly be Mexico’s victory.

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