People inside and outside the country speculate on what message the new president aims to send with the charges against the infamous Elba Esther Gordillo
Mexican teachers union chief Elba Esther Gordillo
Mexican teachers union chief Elba Esther Gordillo in June.
Here, once again, was Elba Esther Gordillo
, the powerful boss of Mexico's massive, sclerotic teachers union.
But instead of the image Mexicans were used to - Gordillo
standing in front of adoring followers, defiantly speechifying, dressed to the nines - her
famous face was now barely visible through the bars of a Mexico City jail.
The face scowled above a simple white turtleneck as a federal court official read the charges against her
They allege that she
illegally diverted more than $156 million in union funds, which she
used to support her
famously lavish lifestyle: the plastic surgery procedures; the Neiman Marcus spending sprees; the private jets like the one she
had landed in Tuesday at the Toluca airport, where she
and three others were promptly arrested by federal officials.
The surprise arrest of Gordillo
, 68, has many Mexicans riveted by the latest chapter in her
telenovela-like life story and relieved that there will be some kind of reckoning for a flamboyant, reform-averse and seemingly untouchable leader who, to her
many critics, was the embodiment of old-school Mexican corruption.
Education reform is one of the key elements of that plan, and Gordillo
had loudly opposed a reform package that Peña Nieto
signed into law this week.
The law, among other things, stripped Gordillo of her
vast powers to hire, fire and promote teachers.
and Romero are but two powerful bosses among dozens who are essentially legacies of the single-party patronage-based system of governance developed by the PRI, which ruled Mexico for most of the 20th century.
has long held a special place in Mexican public life.
Once a schoolteacher from the poverty-stricken state of Chiapas, she
is nicknamed "La Maestra," or "the Teacher.
According to jail sources cited by the newspaper El Universal, Gordillo
had no dinner on her
first night behind bars.