Street vendor resigns as Mexico City borough chief

AP News
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Posted: Dec 10, 2009 9:32 PM

An eccentric street vendor known for his Rambo-style headband resigned Thursday as chief of Mexico City's most populous borough, nine days after he and several of his supporters took over the borough's headquarters.

The capital's city government said in a statement it had received a resignation letter from Rafael "Juanito" Acosta in which he wrote: "I will permanently leave my post of chief of the Iztapalapa borough." The city didn't say who would replace him.

Acosta's resignation apparently ends a bizarre political conflict that had become a major headache for the leftists who govern Mexico City and that was held up by many critics as an illustration of the skullduggery of Mexican politics.

Acosta ran in July elections in place of leftist candidate Clara Brugada, who had been disqualified from the race. Acosta promised to step down if he won so Brugada could take the post, in return receiving the backing of her party electoral machinery.

But after winning, he quickly went back on that promise, leading to a weekslong political circus that appeared daily on newspaper front pages and evening newscasts. Many Mexicans found comfort in Acosta's openness about the political finagling that made him a celebrity, confirming their worst suspicions about how politicians operate behind closed doors.

In October, Acosta was sworn in to the post, but hours later asked for a leave of absence, saying he was having health problems. He named Brugada as his replacement.

On the day his leave expired last month, Acosta returned to the borough offices to reclaim the post. After camping out in the parking lot for two days, he was let into the offices by a locksmith.

Acosta, who had been basking in the media attention, left the Iztapalapa borough offices through the back door Thursday without speaking to reporters.