María de la Paz Fernández / vanessa melgar

Partido Popular breaks pact with scandal hit APR political party in Ronda

Move comes after allegations of misconduct against the leader of Alianza por Ronda Josefa Valle and her brother

VANESSA MELGAR

The mayor of Ronda, María de la Paz Fernández, has broken the governing pact between the Alianza por Ronda (APR) party and Partido Popular (PP) in Ronda.

Fernández (PP), made the decision after the leader of APR, Josefa Valle, sacked Antonio Pacheco, an adviser, for allegedly refusing to give part of his salary to her brother, Antonio Valle.

Josefa Valle has since accused Pacheco of threatening her.

In breaking the pact, Fernández said, "We cannot deviate" from our objectives, "we cannot lose our way, we cannot allow ourselves to look the other way" and that it is necessary to "preserve the work of the government team" and "guarantee governability" over the next 18 months.

The APR, which had governed Ronda in collation with the PP, came to power in 2019. The APR was founded by the former PSOE politician Antonio Marín Lara 'Toti'. During negotiations between the two parties, it was agreed the APR could hire an adviser. It was expected that the position would go to Antonio Pachecho, Toti’s right-hand man.

However, following the death of Toti in June 2019, his wife Josefa Valle lobbied to have her brother installed in the position instead of Pachecho. However, given the risk she could be accused of nepotism, she was advised to hire Pachecho instead, sources alleged.

However, Valle hired Pachecho on the condition that he give part of his salary, alleged to be almost half of it, every month to her brother Antonio.

Sources claim that initially the money was handed over in an envelope but the pandemic forced the parties to resort to electronic transfers. In mid-2021, Antonio Valle is said to have asked Pachecho to stop sending the money via transfer to and to return to cash payments given the scrutiny a bank transfer could face.

In September, Pachecho made his last payment in cash to Antonio Valle insisting he could no longer afford to make the payment. It is at this point, Josefa Valle is alleged to have intervened urging Pachecho to abide by the agreement, and if he did not, she implied she would sack him. Pachecho refused to make any more payments.

In mid-December, Fernández, signed off on the dismissal of Pachecho from his post of adviser and assigned him to the department for Cleaning, Parks, Gardens and Commerce, according to internal town council documents.

Josefa Valle has refused to comment other than to say the allegations are a “lie”. Her brother Antonio has also refused to comment.