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Despite influence concerns, Mexico's labor minister defends the Pemex union's head vote

Despite influence concerns, Mexico's labor minister defends the Pemex union's head vote

PLACE, MAXICO, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Mexican Labor Minister Luisa Maria Alcalde defended a press conference on Friday to elect a new leader of the state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) despite concerns that the influence of a controversial old union leader might persist.

Politicians, including the ruling party, have criticised Ricardo Aldana's candidacy as Pemex treasurer under the long-time union boss Carlos Romero Deschamps, who was removed in 2019 after being investigated.

Aldana's representative told an event on social media late last year that he'll be able to win the election as a result of the campaign, urging Pemex workers to vote for him.

Asked if the administration would be certain that Romero Deschamps' will not retain power at the union, Alcalde said the vote would be "free, democratic and fair."

"This one has certain connections, he has this back story,' one's always the workers who will decide," she told a regular news conference.

Officials in 2019 said Romero Deschamps, who denied wrongdoing, was being investigated for operation with illicit origin.

Both Aldana and Romero Deschamps are veteran politicians in the long-running Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was consigned to a historic defeat when he was elected in 2018.

Cecilia Sanchez, a senator with Lopez Obrador's National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), who is also seeking to lead the union, criticized the labor ministry on Twitter after the news conference and said the old bosses were left in charge.

Aldana has not immediately responded to a request for comment.

Pemex has been hampered with for decades.

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