In an electrifying announcement that sent shockwaves through Mexico's political landscape, Santiago Taboada, the incumbent Mayor of Benito Juárez, has declared his intent to vie for the prestigious position of Mexico City Mayor in the 2024 elections. Standing amidst a sea of fervent supporters from the 'Va por México' alliance, which comprises PRI, PAN, and PRD, Taboada boldly proclaimed, “I want to announce that I will leave the mayor's office to fully assume this aspiration, I wish to be head of government in 2024.”
This decision marks a significant turning point in his political journey, as Taboada intends to lead the 'Frente Amplio por México' against his fellow opposition candidates. His announcement was a resounding gauntlet thrown at the feet of his rivals and officially solidified his long-cherished ambition.
Santiago Taboada, a law graduate from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), has been at the helm of Benito Juárez since 2018, securing reelection in 2021. His remarkable popularity within his coalition partners has set the stage for his candidacy for the capital's top job, despite being embroiled in corruption scandals and maintaining an enduring rivalry with Mexico's political bigwigs, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Claudia Sheinbaum, the future presidential candidate for Morena and former head of government.
Taboada's journey into politics dates back to 2004 when he served as a parliamentary advisor for the Youth and Sports Commission in Mexico City's legislature, which was then known as Distrito Federal. He steadily climbed the political ladder, eventually becoming the secretary of youth action in 2008. By 2011, he took the reins as the coordinator of administrative modernization in Benito Juárez, and from 2012 to 2015, he represented the PAN as a local deputy in Mexico City. His successful stint as a legislator in the nation's capital eventually paved the way for his appointment as a federal deputy from 2015 to 2018, where he held the esteemed position of president of the Commission of Culture and Cinematography.
Despite his impressive political ascent, Taboada has not been immune to controversy. He found himself at the center of a political storm when President López Obrador announced his support for Taboada, citing his remarkable electoral success in Benito Juárez as the reason. While basking in this political endorsement, allegations of corrupt practices emerged from Mexico City's Attorney General's Office. The accusations implicated Taboada in activities resembling those of the notorious Real Estate Cartel, which had ensnared two previous mayors of Benito Juárez.
Furthermore, it was alleged that Taboada had purchased an apartment through an irregular scheme in the City Towers building near Xoco, Coyoacán. According to Reforma newspaper, he acquired the apartment in 2013 for 2.87 million pesos, and in November 2021, the debt linked to the property was mysteriously canceled. Later, he reportedly sold it for a whopping 5.1 million pesos.
In response to these grave allegations, Taboada vehemently denied any wrongdoing, asserting that he was a victim of political persecution orchestrated by the District Attorney's Office of Mexico City and then-Chief of Government, Claudia Sheinbaum. This ignited a bitter feud, with Taboada even daringly confronting Sheinbaum at the Pantitlán station of Metro Line 9 during the aftermath of the tragic elevated section collapse on Line 12 in May 2021, which claimed nearly 30 lives.
Not content with merely trading barbs, Taboada added a new layer to the feud, claiming that Sheinbaum's team had interfered in his telephone conversations and even produced evidence, accredited by a federal judge, to support his assertions. His relentless determination to clear his name was nothing short of audacious.
As Santiago Taboada sets his sights on the Mexico City Mayor's seat in the upcoming 2024 elections, his candidacy is bound to be a political rollercoaster ride. The controversies, scandals, and political feuds that have shadowed his career only make this impending race all the more intriguing. We wonder if Taboadas audacious bid will propel him to the pinnacle of Mexican politics or leave him derailed on the track of public scrutiny.