Mexican senator and presidential candidate for the opposition coalition Frente Amplio por México, Xóchitl Gálvez, speaks during an interview with AFP in Mexico City on September 4, 2023. (Credit: CLAUDIO CRUZ/AFP/Getty Images)
(CNN Spanish) -- "If the lack of references in 2% or 3% of text is enough to annul my title of my beloved UNAM, I will return to present a new work to title myself," Xóchitl Gálvez, presidential candidate of the opposition Broad Front for Mexico, said Wednesday in a message on her X account (formerly Twitter) after being accused on social networks by supporters of the political movement of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of plagiarizing parts of his report of degree work, a statement on which this week published different investigative reports the newspaper El País and the magazine Etcétera. CNN has not had access to the work that is at the center of this controversy.
The current senator of the National Action Party said she will abide by the ruling if the National Autonomous University of Mexico, an educational institution that accredited her in 2010 as a computer engineer, annuls her title, but insisted that the alleged plagiarism was not in the degree thesis, but in a professional report.
"My degree is for professional experience, not for a writing," Galvez emphasized in the video.
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The opposition senator was initially singled out by users on social networks, and investigations by Etcétera and the Mexican edition of El País added details after analyzing Gálvez's work, citing various paragraphs from both academic authors and official documents to which Gálvez did not give credit in his document. The modality of the professional report is one of the options that the maximum house of studies of Mexico offers to its students to accredit the degree.
"Yes, I pendejié (sic), because I should have put where she was from, the truth," Galvez acknowledged on Wednesday, in response to questions from the press as he left the Senate.
The publications point to the senator of having copied, for example, paragraphs of the "Special Program on Climate Change 2009-2012", published in the Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF) on August 28, 2009.
On Wednesday, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) issued a statement "before the recent publications on the alleged lack of integrity and academic honesty in the presentation of the written report, corresponding to the process of qualification for professional work of the graduate Bertha Xóchitl Gálvez Ruiz."
The house of studies reported that the still rector of the UNAM, Enrique Graue Wiechers, asked the director of the Faculty of Engineering, José Antonio Hernández Espriú, to redirect the matter to both the Ethics Committee and the Technical Council to carry out "the corresponding analysis."
This controversy over alleged plagiarism comes before the Mexican electoral process formally begins, and months after another controversy faced by the UNAM, when Supreme Court Justice Yasmín Esquivel was accused in December 2022 of alleged plagiarism in her 1987 law degree thesis.
Esquivel has defended the authorship of his undergraduate thesis. However, in mid-January, the UNAM concluded that at the time the minister "copied a substantial part of the content of the thesis" that had been presented a year earlier by the student of the Faculty of Law Edgar Ulises Báez, but said that she lacked the mechanisms to invalidate the title issued by the university, even "when the plagiarism of a thesis is documented." The university turned the case over to the Ministry of Public Education.
The SEP responded to the UNAM that the General Directorate of Professions does not have the power to withdraw the title of Minister Yasmín Esquivel after the Integrity Committee of the Faculty of Higher Studies (FES) Aragon resolved that she plagiarized her thesis.
Both UNAM and the University Ethics Committee are conducting an investigation to determine whether or not Esquivel incurred academic plagiarism in his 1987 law degree thesis.
The minister's defense claimed on June 8 that she had achieved a judicial triumph after a local judge in Mexico City concluded, according to the lawyers, that Esquivel is the legitimate author of the questioned thesis. The UNAM then asked Esquivel to desist from the legal appeals that his lawyers have promoted before the Judicial Branch, and to allow the institution and its ethics committee to conclude their academic work.
CNN has requested information from the SEP on the progress of this case, but no response yet.
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According to the Statute of Ethics of the UNAM, that institution considers as plagiarism "the misappropriation of texts, images, data, tables, designs or graphics that belong to other authors, and occurs when they are used in a work or own text without citing them properly or putting bibliographic references to the original sources that were consulted and used".
Xochitl Galvez said however that he does not "crack" (does not surrender) and said he was the victim of a smear campaign.
"I don't get scared or cut off, they have already wanted to demolish my house, they already said that I am not indigenous, that I am not a businesswoman, that I did not sell jellies, now that I am not an engineer," she said in her video on Wednesday.
The Technical Council of the UNAM is the instance that evaluates the case of Esquivel, and that will now do the same in the case of Gálvez.