A 75-year-old Bolivian mayor was caught on camera groping a woman, and now, the clip has gone viral.
Percy Fernandez, the mayor of Santa Cruz, was caught placing his hand on journalist Mercedes Guzman’s thigh during a live broadcast on April 30. In the video, Guzman is seen struggling to get the mayor’s hand off of her thigh while holding a microphone in her other hand and trying to keep it cool on camera.
Now, many are up in arms about the incident, including Lupe Cajias, President of the La Paz Association of Journalists.
"On one hand, I think it reflects the arrogance of power; and on the other hand, a lack of control of [the mayor's] own actions,” said Cajias in a statement. “The two things are probably related. If you think there's no boundaries because you're above good and evil, then you can grab a journalist's leg or talk with double-meaning in front of the camera without shame.”
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Guzman’s husband has even spoken out about the incident, saying that the couple’s young son heard about it in school.
“Even the schoolmates of my son in primary school heard about this event and my adolescent son had to put up with uncomfortable questions at his school,” said Marco Antonio Espindola. “It shamed my family.”
Following public outcry, Fernandez finally issued an apology to the journalist and her family for what he did in the form of a video sent to Bolivian news outlets.
"I'm worried that I might've disrespected you while you were performing your duties,” says Fernandez in the video. “I apologize again to you and your dignified family.”
Despite his apology to the journalist and her family, some don’t think the mayor has gone far enough. Lawmaker Marcella Revollo filed an official complaint against Fernandez for sexual harassment, discrimination, and sexual violence.
"We consider this an expression of violence against all Bolivian women, considering that the mayor's actions have happened before," said Revollo.
Back in 2012, Fernandez was caught on camera rubbing his hand against a female politician’s bottom, and in 2010, he was caught kissing a random woman who uncomfortably attempted to free herself from his grip.