The eternal mayor, jailed for offering money in exchange for sex to a 14-year-old girl | Spain

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Headquarters of the Castroverde de Campos City Council (Zamora), last Friday.
Headquarters of the Castroverde de Campos City Council (Zamora), last Friday.Javier Alvarez

Villages function by ritual. Even those as particular as Castroverde de Campos (Zamora, 272 inhabitants), whose favorite son is former President of the United States Barack Obama since 2010 and who has been governed by the same mayor, Cecilio Lera, since the first municipal elections, in 1979. The sacred habit of having coffee, shots or drinks and playing in the bars after eating has in recent days in this town with an unpleasant topic of conversation at the expense of the first mayor himself. Lera is in preventive prison accused of offering money to a 14-year-old girl in exchange for having sex. The 68-year-old man has a previous conviction for sexist violence, whose complaint caused him to be expelled from the socialist party in 2020. He also has another, for assault, and his license was recently withdrawn for drunk driving.

Neighbors check the cover and inside pages of Zamora’s Opinion, the local media that advanced the case last Wednesday night. According to the account of this medium, based on the complaint to the Civil Guard, on November 4, the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the mayor of Zamorano approached a child under 14 years of Castroverde, and He offered her about 200 euros to have sex with him.

The girl told her parents and they reported it to the Civil Guard, who arrested Lera for an alleged crime of corruption of minors, according to the preliminary proceedings. He has finally entered prison for a crime of inducing prostitution, which can carry penalties of between four and eight years in prison if the victim is less than 16 years old. Lera assured in court on November 24 that she had drunk when she made the offer to the minor. The gender violence prosecutor has considered that there is “clear evidence” of the crime. While the councilor is in prison, the deputy mayor, Diodoro Conde (PSOE) will replace him in the Consistory.

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Cecilio Lera, in a photo on his twitter in 2015.
Cecilio Lera, in a photo on his twitter in 2015.

The tension can be seen between these small streets where outsiders are looked at with suspicion, especially when they see cameras or notebooks. The talk with the residents of Castroverde reveals a succession of silences, faces of circumstances and a request for anonymity for those who dare to speak about the personality of Cecilio Lera and his multiple incidents in recent years. A fifth-grader, who was born shortly before him, in 1953, summarizes the talks in the two bars in town. Lera has had a problem with alcohol for years, is in a difficult emotional situation and had “gone bad.” A neighbor who has also known him for a long time raises her eyebrows as she insists that there is no justification for the acts for which he has been denounced. Jesús Martínez, a neighbor who does not mind giving his name, defends Lara’s “presumption of innocence” until there is a sentence.

The minor’s family demands the utmost discretion to prevent her from knowing that she has been the victim. One of her relatives is saddened by the situation in which the minor has been involved, who is trying to maintain a normal life, making plans with her friends, and emphasizes that the councilor, known in the area for his good work as a cook, he has starred in all kinds of incidents.

The most serious circumstance in which the Castroverde councilor has been implicated is a two-year prison sentence for sexist violence against his ex-partner, in 2019. The penalty was replaced by a detoxification treatment for his alcoholism, a measure of the that he still had months to complete and that, according to bar patrons, he was not complying. His license had been withdrawn after being arrested for drunk driving and in 2018 he was convicted of minor injuries and threats to a man.

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This innkeeper left in the hands of his son the family restaurant that put Castroverde on the map thanks to renowned visits. At the restaurant, one of the employees stresses, while several diners are finishing their dishes, that Lera has now been without any ties to the restaurant for about two years.

Zamora socialist sources who have been friends with the accused narrate that a file had already been opened for internal reasons before the complaint of sexist violence. “He has experienced a huge emotional decline for seven or eight years,” these sources highlight. The arrest, he sighs resignedly, has surprised him, but it has not surprised him too much.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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