Mexico, America's neighbor on the South
is known for their beautiful women, sand beaches, tropical climate, fabled resorts
and corruption. We are talking here about world class corruption in which government
officials have no fear because they have been historically protected by the successor.
Then again, what else could happen with a one-part political system? This is then
is the story of economic bungling and collapse and the reason that it has happened
before and sometime in the not to distant future it will happen again.
After two tragic collapses in a short span of years,
Mexico won a fresh start, thanks to two big bailouts and some aggressive legislation
passed by their loyal neighbors in the United States Congress, NAFTA, which bestowed
upon Canada and Mexico preferred trade treatment. The legislation ran the gambit, from
soup to nuts, in a potpourri of largesse so generous that it almost caused a civil
war in the States. The political logic evidenced by the legislators was indisputable,
they felt that it would be politically less expensive to bale Mexico out with
continuing special treatment than ponying up $40 billion or more a pop each time
they went down the tube.
get the impression that it is a one way street.
In order to return the favor, Mexicos drug
lords supply two-thirds of the total amount cocaine consumed in the United States.
The situation had become so invasive within the system, the United States Government
planted their own agents in Mexican banks to keep track of money laundering and
eventually used the ruse of holding a symposium for laundering of drug money to
lure the guilty parities into the United States so that they could be arrested.
This was not a particularly far ranging operation,
only 12 of the 19 largest banks in Mexico had officials that were actively involved
in money laundering and the total number arrested was well above 100. The fact
the banks were up to the eyeballs in the laundering mess came at a particularly
bad time for them. The Mexican Congress was whisking along a bill that would have
had the national government absorb the entire hickey caused by the 1995 bailout
of their banking system (Fobaproa),
which would have left the banks off the hook entirely.
The populace was already crazed over what they considered
an attempt by the government to cram down a taxpayer bailout of the rich bankers,
many of whom were already in jail for stealing money from depositors. Many well
situated American's held the view that officials wanted to bail out the banks
so that the Mexican Government could grease the wheels of the drug rings sending
cocaine into the United States. Not the best deal the US ever made.
The importance of the sting, code-named, Casablanca,
can be visualized by the fact that it was conducted by units of the U. S. Treasury,
the Customers Service, the Justice Department, and the Federal Reserve. Publicly,
Mexico applauded the action but behind the scenes, notes were being exchanged
at very high government levels complaining that the undercover sting had taken
place on Mexican territory without the knowledge of Government Officials.
High ranking Americans involved in the covert
operation knew that if one word of these activities was ever leaked, the entire
operation would have been jeopardized. Recognizing the fact that almost the entire
Mexican bureaucratic structure was so riddled by highly paid informants of the
drug cartels, not only would the operation have collapsed but many of the Americans
involved probably would have lost their lives. As it was best put by Jorge Castaneda,
Its obvious the Americans dont trust the Mexicans. They were
never going to share something like this with.
As the thought of what had happened penetrated the
Mexican rank and file, a hue and cry went up that Mexican sovereignty had bad
impugned. Thus, things then went from bad to worse; Mexico has advised the United
States that it will criminally prosecute all of those involved from the Mexican
informers to the American customs agents. Mexicos foreign secretary even
went as far as presenting the American Secretary of State, Albright, a list of
particulars relative to the laws that had been broken which included money-laundering
The U. S. "front" company that ran the
sting for the American Government, Emerald Empire Corporation, lured Mexican suspects
into the United States to be arrested. According to Mexican Law, this type of
entrapment is illegal. Secretary of State Albright took the "high road"
and told her Mexican counterpart that she had never been informed about the operation
either. This may explain the American Secretary of States history of absurd
statements about Mexican cooperation relative to their drug trafficking.
No sooner had the Mexicans indicated that they
were going to go after the people that participated in the American drug sting
that it was sheepishly announced that maybe, just maybe they were informed in
advance. The Mexican Attorney Generals office (PGR) announced that in reality
they were put on notice very early in the scenario.
16, 1996, Mexicos then deputy prosecutor for judicial and international
affair, Rafael Estrada Samano, received a visit from two U. S. customs officials...to
inform him of the operation later named Casablanca.
the PGR stated that:
U. S. Justice and Treasury Department officials
contacted Mexicos Finance and foreign ministries as well as the PGR.
when interviewed indicated that he had also informed then-attorney General Antonia
Lozano Garcia and the head of the Attorney Generals office in Baja. This
operation seems to have left out only a number of high level Mexican officials
and Secretary of State Madeline Albright relative to being informed. I guess you
never can tell whom to trust these days but the success of the sting we believe
speaks for itself. Internationally, poor Ms. Albright
always seems to be left out when something important is happening. However, then
again she is only Secretary of State. Alternatively, maybe her memory conveniently
failed her, after all she totally forgot her Jewish roots when it was convenient.
In spite of the facts, Mexican President Zedillo,
wanting to prove that he was macho, continued to berate the United States and
was able to transfer the blame in one masterpiece of eloquence, An overwhelming
proportion of world (drug) demand comes from countries with the highest economic
capacity, it is our men and women who first die combating drug trafficking, our
communities are the first to suffer from violence and our institutions are the
first undermined by corruption.
Wow! Holy Molly! You just cant fight that kind
of logic and he really stuck it to the U.S. What eloquence! I think that pretty
well closes the book on that subject. Upon hearing Zedillos speech, the
U. S. Congress passed a non-binding resolution approving the drug sting by the
surprisingly close margin of 404 to 3. In throwing even more oil on the fire,
U. S. Government Officials indicated that they would issue no guarantee not to
run a similar operation in Mexico in the future, should the facts warrant it.
Vacation in Mexico, We Offer Beautiful Women, Sandy Beaches, Wonderful Weather
Americans losing their lives in Mexico is another
story. So many tourists and business men have been murdered in the formerly peaceful,
South of the Border tourist Mecca that the US State Department has issued a bulletin
stating that the crime rate has spiraled out of control and that taxis, ATMs,
nightclubs and bars should either be avoided or are to be frequented with caution.
In Mexico City alone, almost 200 violent crimes and 3 murders a day occur that
are noted but these impressive statistics are meaningless when you consider that
the great majority of crimes in that country go unreported.
Out and Paying The Price
Moreover, if you aren't murdered or kidnapped, robbed
or beaten, Mexico has other much more sophisticated ways of ending your stay in
this beautiful country South of the American border. In a land of interesting
statistics, one of the most interesting is the fact that every single day of the
year, two-thirds of the entire population, that means men, women and children
eat their food at a street vendors stand. This means that 60 million meals
a day are served under the brightly colored umbrellas that display the vendors
wares. Whether it be a taco, a tortilla or a tomalley, it is nothing less than
a tradition to go out for lunch and have something to eat under the umbrella while
taking in the beautiful weather and talking to ones friends. Sounds idyllic,
does it not?
There is an independent consumer group in Mexico
that goes by the name of The Mexican Association of Studies for the Defense
of the Consumer (Amedec). For whatever reason this spoilsports
are out to ruin our fun and they say that there were 192 million illnesses last
year in Mexico caused directly by these vendors and their use of unsanitary conditions
in the preparation and serving of the luscious delicacies. Although my math is
not so hot, I think that this comes to over three illnesses per person eating
the food during a given year. Worse yet, Amedec states that these are not just
any old little illnesses, these are in a league with the big enchilada, we are
talking here about dysentery, hepatitis and cholera among others.
Well you say, Whats a little dysentery
among friends? Well Bunkie, 60,000 people a year are carted off and given
the last rights because of the food that they get from the lovely stands with
the brightly colored umbrellas. Why doesnt the government do something
about cleaning these folks up, you know, make them more sanitary? American officials in charge of this type of fiasco would be
boiled in oil and that would only be for starters.
Bunkie, let me tell you something else, these people
have been cooking food and serving it this way long before Columbus discovered
America, and one out of every four Mexicans makes his living serving up this brand
of poison. Do you think that Zedillo and his crew are about to legislate these
folks out existence when every politician in the country needs the bloc of votes
to be elected? .
The fact that the medical treatment alone for those
that get sick eating this stuff is cost a fortune and when you add to that the
almost $2 billion in income lost to the country in productivity, you are starting
to talk about real money. One Mexican we knew said he had a solution to all of
Mexicos problems, make the politicians and drug dealers eat three meals
a day at any outdoor stand of their choice and Mexico would have the highest standard
of living in the world in 12 years. I am not sure about his statistics but they
would certainly be a lot better off than they are now.
Americans are still under the impression that Mexico
is a tourists delight, but the State Department is well aware that if the
kidnappers, robbers and murderers dont get you, the food probably will.
The old saw that its the drinking water has been played too many time and
when Americans get back and become sicker than dogs, they talk about the
bottled water the had but they forgot to make sure the ice cubes were out of a
bottle as well. The best-kept secret in the world is the fact that Mexico doesnt
anyone policing the health habits of vendors and that is ultimately how you are
In one breath, Americans say that the Mexican
Government is doing a good job keeping the lid on a difficult situation and yet
congress has authorized and experimental bill that would literally turn the Mexican-US
border into an armed camp in order to stop the drug flow. I can understand that
you dont think that this is very neighborly and there must be another way
that this problem can be addressed. I suggest you determine what the best course
of action would be after reading about some of Mexicos most important citizens
and how they just happen to go so wrong.
CAN YOU FAULT ME FOR WANTING A SMALL RETURN ON MY INVESTMENT?
Mexico's problems stemmed from the fact that most
government officials bought their way into office and for the most part were only
given a short period of time (one term) to steal as much as they could comfortably
fit into their knapsacks. A tacit agreement has historically existed between the
incumbent and his predecessor, that if the former office holder doesn't tell everyone
how easy it is to loot money from the national treasury and how it is done, the
incumbent won't have the former official arrested for theft. In spite of the hue
and cry arising from the United States as well as every do-gooder in the rest
of the world, Mexico has only learned to hide their tracks better.
Since the 1930s, all eleven presidents of Mexico have named
their own successors in what is called in local parlance, Dedazo, The Big Finger.
When someone anoints you, he is hardly a person that you would throw in jail for
criminal conduct while in office.
Well, not much has changed in Mexico since then.
Officials continue to steal money from the treasury, but because of the massive
privatizations, which have brought in additional billions of dollars into the
Mexican coffers, this has only allowed the amount of money taken by government
bureaucrats to significantly increase. Because
officials of the Mexican Government are able to learn the art so well from their
predecessors in office, we are not particularly sanguine about the future of this
GREASES THE WHEELS
In Mexico, nearly everyone is sacrosanct, unless
of course you happen to be a pheasant. The untouchables are leaders of the government,
the army, and the police. Each seems to operate independently with only one common
thread, invincibility. There is no crime substantial enough to bring these people
to the bar of justice. The general that was acting as anti-drug czar was in reality
working for drug lords and had placed his troops at their disposal. ()
An interesting example of this was the recent case
of police torture in Mexico City. The bodies had been so badly mauled by police
brutality that the local newspapers went on a crusade. It turns out that unknown
to everyone; the police unit in question was independent even from other police
units and operated in vigilante style. In a most unusual move, three senior police
officers were arrested for their attempted cover up of unspeakable brutality.
The unit rebelled; police officers were not arrested in Mexico and especially
not those of an elite unit, no matter what the crime. The police have barricaded
themselves in as the army and the rest of the Mexico City police department readied
for an old style wild west shootout. Ultimately the internecine warfare died down,
but the status quo remains and the citizens of Mexico are the losers.
One has to look no further than then the Mexican
Police Academys for the answers. According to Gerlind Younts of NBC in his
report of May 19, 1998,
Because of years of allegations
of police corruption and collaboration with criminals, a Mexican University decided
to put some students undercover to investigate the training of police recruits
at a Mexican police academy. After the two-year probe, the results were discouraging.
Many of the young recruits had little or no education, and were selected by family
members who were already on the police force. Students were encouraged to pay
money for better grades in the school. Moreover, during some of the courtyard
breaks, students bonded with each other by smoking pot. Some police instructors
at the academy were teaching students how to rob from citizens. Rob with
professionalism, a police academy instructor was quoted as saying.
You dont have to ask for money, just wait, people are going to give it to
you automatically, you dont have to say anything.
According to Ogara Hess & Eisenhardt Co. De Mexico,
a company that is in the business deomographizing Mexico City crime, they estimate
that. The city last year had, one million muggings, 70,000 car thefts and
21,000 truck thefts. () The Wall Street Journal put those numbers into
perspective, The bigger problem, of course, is that the cops and the criminals
are sometimes one and the same. The government has fired a long list of corrupt
police, but it turns out there are lots more where those came from. Worse, the
fired cops now have all day to spend on the streets. Crime is not only pervasive,
it has a business like efficiency to it.... ()
On June 2, 1998, the Mexican Government charged ten
police officers and public servants with corruption after they allegedly accepted
$2.4 million in cash to let a suspected Colombian drug trafficker go free.
When they officials grabbed the police culprits in the State of Sinaloa,
they were able to confiscate almost $2 million in cash along with pesos and cars.
Sadly, in Mexico are not passive extortionists and at times they can get rather
aggressive when trying to make a buck.
Have Our Judicial System, Don't We?
Judges are also either on the take or afraid to make
tough decision when their lives may be at stake. An interesting view of the Mexican
Judicial system can be garnered when analyzing the arrest of Luis and Jesus Amezcua,
known as the kings of methamphetamines (Speed). The brothers organization,
the Colima Cartel is known as Mexicos fourth largest drugs gang.
American DEA chief Thomas Constantine in analyzing the situation stated that,
The Amezcua brothers run the largest methamphetamine and chemical trafficking
organization identified by U. S. law enforcement, and the arrest and removal of
these two key leaders should significantly disrupt the established methamphetamine
Mexico annouced the collaring of the two with great
pride and indicated that it was a "major blow against the Colima Cartel."
In spite of their being caught red handed, and support for a conviction from the Central Government, unbelivably,
a judge could not be found for some time willing to hear the case in the state
of Jalisco, Mexico that was willing press charges against the brothers. After
a number of calls, a judge was finally found to that was willing to sit in the
matter. Therefore, in Mexico, we find that
the army, the police, the bureaucrats and the judiciary tend to be either corrupt
or easily intimidated and it is as though it was the Wild West all over again.
Nevertheless, that wasnt the end of the story
by a long shot. The judge in Guadalajara, Mexicos second largest city that
was pressed into service did not require a lot of thought before clearing both
of them almost immediately sending into oblivion any hopes of a quick change to
Mexicos arrest and release syndrome. Although the two still face charges
on a lesser charge of money laundering, that shouldnt present much of a
problem to their attorney because the law didnt even exist when the crime
they are accused of took place. Well, at least it will give the Mexican Government
the opportunity of saying that it did its best in spite of two bits at the apple.
Now the only thing that these lovable characters
have to fear is extradition to the United States, but with the current climate
between the nations growing colder by the minute, this seems about as likely as
finding a judge that would have convicted them in the first place.
TRUTH IS, I DONT HAVE A CLUE HOW THAT STUFF GOT INTO THE CAR
In Mexico, Kidnapping is the norm rather than the
exception. It is so common that most regions have a special police brigade aptly
labeled the anti-kidnap police just to deal with the numerous instances of holding
people hostage in exchange for substantial sums of money. The heads of these specialized
units are well trained, incorruptible professionals, dedicated to the eradication
of this blemish on Mexicos reputation. Furthermore, even senior politicians
are afraid of moving around their districts unescorted because even they are marks
for vicious gangs looking for their next victim.
Mexico has the distinction of achieving the number
two spot behind Columbia in this dubious art form through substantial effort.
Although everything in Mexico has become bizarre, the situation has become so
strange it even defies the written word. In Mexico we have officers of the law
engaged in the act of kidnapping and shaking down citizens, heads of police departments
being kidnapped and held for ransom and criminals, who after first disguising
themselves as policemen and they then go out and kidnap people. Almost none of
the kidnappers are apprehended and of the infinitely small number that are, for
the most part the are found innocent by Mexican Trial Judges because of lack
of evidence against them. In
effect, the more police the system turns out, the more kidnapping that occurs
because, the more police officers there are in the field to accept bribes. One
of the most unusual vicious circles in crime history. Authoritative mathematicians
have estimated that if the police departments all over Mexico were disbanded,
mathematically at least, kidnapping would drop so substantially, that it no longer
would be considered a problem.
DANIEL, WHAT DID YOU DECIDE TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
Highly regarding, Daniel Arizmendi Lopez is easily
ranked at the top of Mexican kidnappers and he brings a touch of class to an otherwise
straightforward occupation. By employing only the most trusted of his own relatives
and using contract criminals for carrying out his orders, he has been able to
keep a distance between himself and the law for many years. His operation is both extensive and
sophisticated and his results are unparalleled. Early in his career, Arizmendi
learned that cutting off various body parts of victims and having them hand-delivered
to hysterical relatives was very effective in causing a speedup in often slow
Arizmendi also has created one of the best networks
of friends in high places neither through his sterling personality
nor through his good looks but paying out a substantial part of his revenues in
bribes to key officials. Only after Arizmendi became recognized as the leading
kidnapper in Mexico did the hue and cry cause President Zedilo to do anything
about him. When government forces finally got the message, they acted in almost
overwhelming fashion by grabbing seven safe houses in Cuernavaca and Mexico City,
arresting not only his wife, but his son, daughter and daughter-in-law and grabbing
a spare $5 million in cash that just happened to laying around one of the apartments.
Shockingly, no one knew how the money had gotten there.
Arizmendis specialty is breaking into armored
cars, summarily dispensing with objecting bodyguards and immediately removing
victims ears to make them for flexible. In one action quoted by the New York Times
(Sunday, May 31, 1998), a victim stated, They throw you on the floor with
your eyes blindfolded, One of them jumps on top of you, and you think its
your last hour. Its a relief when you realize its only a mutilation. Arizmendi has indicated that he chose
this gory profession because it has offers substantial payoff with little downside
and almost no one is every arrested for kidnapping in Mexico. So far, investigators
have arrested a Federal prosecutor and a federal police agent as well as the former
chief of the Morelos State police anti-kidnapping unit in this affair.
To give you an idea of how bad this dude really is,
Luis Reynoso, Roman Catholic Bishop of Morelos State who has been a harsh critic
of any capital punishment in Mexico indicated that his charity did not extend
to Lopez and that in his case an exception ought to be made. Mexican President
Zedillo called him despicable and the usually docile people of Morelos suggested
that his family's body parts be severed one by one until he turned himself in.
Mexicans all of the country are using this case as a rallying point for
bringing back the death penalty which was eliminated in Mexico in the 1920s.
Armando Martinez Salgado was the chief of one of
the finest anti-kidnap squads in the country. His reputation as a no nonsense
officer of the law was legendary and his knowledge of the field made him a constant
source of information for other less informed heads of comparable squads. That
is, until, a highway patrol squad picked him up with the mutilated body of 17
year old Jorge Nava Avila, five ski-masks, adhesive tape and blood-soaked bandages
in his car.
When asked to explain his action, Armando informed
the arresting officers that he was on a secret mission the details of which he
was not allowed to divulge to anyone. In an attempt to ferret out what had occurred,
police officials began an investigation of the entire anti-kidnapping squad. The
unit had thirty-eight members and by the time fifteen had been questioned, the
remaining twenty-three had left town and were in hiding. Specifically, by this
time, Armando had been fingered by several witnesses who declared him their abductor.
Ultimately, as the people sheepishly came forward to testify in the investigation,
witnesses have implicated him in almost forty kidnapping cases in Morelos.
They have confirmed that anti-kidnapping czar was
the recipient of substantial amounts of cash paid by hysterical relatives for
the return of their loved ones. Martinez, not wanting to swing for this all by
himself has named people up to and including the Governor of the State of Morelos,
Jorge Carrillo Olea, as his co-conspirators. For some strange reason, we dont
really doubt the man. The whole story is so bizarre that it must be true.
Mexican Presidents have a great deal of power over
State Governors and with good reason, President Ernest Zedillo was extremely
embarrassed over the entire situation down in Morelos.
The way that Governors are removed in Mexico is usually through a simple
call by the President to the offending politician, stating that he should pack
his bags and be out of his respective state house, now! That certainly is
something that doesnt happen every day you say? Wrong Bunkie!
During the Salinas years, he averaged removing almost 3 governors per year or
16 during his six-year term and Zedillo seems to be picking up the pace.
During his stay in office, five governors have resigned or have been dispatched.
When is the last time you can ever remember a governor in one of the fifty states
resigning because the president was annoyed at him.
Picture Bill Clinton calling up George Pataki and
telling him his term as Governor of New York State is at an end.
Hello: George, this is Bill Clinton, you know,
the President of the United States calling, how are you today.?
Bill, Im doing just fine and I want to
take this opportunity to tell you that what I said about you and Hillary was just
political talk and you shouldnt take it too seriously, were still
friends, arent we?
George, Ive been around politics too
long not to understand what you are saying and we are from different political
parties, but what is great about America is the fact that when the day is over,
we can put aside our differences and go about our business without any hard feelings.
And, by the way George, dont take this personally, but I think that you
should resign as governor."
Bill, I know where you are coming from and
you have as much chance of seeing me resign as you have of getting your wife to
George, I must tell you that unless you pack
your bags today, I will call in the army.
Bill, call in the army but remember that we
have the best National Guard in the United States and I will instruct them to
fight to the last man to save our sovereign soil.
George, you are talking about civil war, come
to your senses man, just leave quietly and we can still be friends.
Bill, you know what you can do with you resignation
crap. Stick it!
In Mexico, the old axiom, with police officers
like Armando, we dont need any criminals obviously still holds true,
and this is certainly an incentive to plan your next vacation around the balmy
breezes of the Mexican State of Morales. Since Martinez was arrested, Mexican
police have made a rather attractive haul, Carlos Peredo Merlo, Attorney General
for the State of Morelos, the former state police chief Jesus Miyazawa Alvarez,
his top deputy along with the chief of detectives and two other senior police
officers have been accused of giving Commander Armando the assignment to dispose
of the body of Nava Aviles. The national Attorney General explained the arrests
with the following statement, The house arrest was motivated by the alleged participation
in the acts that gave rise to the investigation into the crimes of torture, murder
and illegally disposing of a body.
Merlo and Alvarez are now comfortably ensconced in Almoloya maximum security
prison charged with torture and murder.
TURN OF THE SCREW
In a turnabout, both the chief and deputy chief of
the Mexico City police's highly regarded anti-kidnapping section not only have
been kidnapped, but have not been heard from since the event occurred. Senior
officials in Mexico are not sanguine about the recovery of either officer and
believe that it was an action done in revenge for the activities of that unit.
Residents of Mexico City that were afraid to venture from their homes are now
nearly hysterical. Comments such as "if the police can't even take care of
themselves, how are they going to take care of us", have become common. In
an equally remarkable story, the son of the Mayor of Mexico City would have us
believe that his car was stolen by armed bandits while his bodyguard was at the
wheel. What about the time when a police
unit in the resort city of Acapulco got into a dispute with a cab driver, tied
him into his vehicle, doused him with gasoline, and set
him on fire for his attitude, burning him to death. Well actually, maybe you can't
blame them for that one, I'm from New York and I know that cab drivers can be
awfully obnoxious. ()
People became so afraid of kidnappers that travelers
where warned by their governments to seek police protection at the slightest hint
of trouble. A group of Australian women, aware of the problem and when traveling
near the resort town of Guadalajara they witnessed an automobile accident in which
the participants and the crowd started to become unruly. Without hesitation, they
asked the local police on the scene for protection. Well, it turns out that this
was a big mistake, the five women had not found the police, they had run right
into the arms of a kidnapping gang disguised with the uniforms of local officials.
As you might well expect, these women have never been seen again, making the old
Mexican axiom, the police are the worst place to go if you have a problem, true
Even Americas, Don King, in Mexico City for
a boxing match found out what life is like in the worlds most populated
city. While on his way from the airport to his hotel, his car was pulled by four
men who put guns to the heads of King and his companions. King got away lucky
as they only took his watch which he stated is valued at over $100,000. King,
although shaken up indicated that he was grateful to god for escaping
GOOD START OF THE YEAR AWARD
So Mexico City got a new Mayor who ran on a ticket
of law and order; the people believed he would make the city safe for them after
so many years of rampant crimes of terrorism. In 1987 alone almost one hundred
banks have been robbed, almost one thousand crimes a day were recorded and scores
of wealthy people had been kidnapped, many never seen again. Cuauhtemoc Cardenas,
the first opposition Mayor since the 1920s didn't get a lot of time to savor his victory. Stepping into
the one of the most contaminated political systems was not the worst problem facing
the new mayor, Mexico City with a population of 18 million is also the worlds
most polluted city by almost any standard.
At an elevation of substantially over a mile, yet totally surrounded by mountains the air on
many days does not seem to move at all. Combining this with gas guzzling
ancient machinery and endless traffic jams have raised the sulfur dioxide and
nitric dioxide particulate matter in the air to critical levels. In spite of the
fact that the infant mortality rate, which is among the worlds highest and
catching, a breath of fresh air can require a trip of over one hundred miles.
Pollution is not the new mayors problem.
While he ran on a virtual anti-military ticket, his
first appointee to the police department was an Air Force Lieutenant colonel who
got the top slot . One of the Colonel's first moves was the appointment of a former
military man as his top aid, thirty-seven year old Jesus Carrola Gutierrez, who
was immediately met with charges that he had ties to drug traffickers, had been
involved in killing, brutalizing and torturing suspects and extorting prisoners.
The new mayor followed up this success by eliminating
Christmas bonuses for government officials just before the holiday while capping
municipal salaries at $100,000 per year in a country where the average worker
is paid about $3 per day. Then, his chief of staff no less, Jesus Gonzalez Schmal,
who with great fanfare and in an effort to attack the Zedillo faction released
a list of 2,500 hundred names purportedly on phantom payrolls. The newspapers
soon made chopped liver out of Schmal when it turned out that the names on the
list for the most part had died and that those that remained had legitimately
resigned from their positions.
Undaunted by this succession of disasters, he followed
it up by accusing Mexico Citys ruling party political leader of espionage
without furnishing a shred of evidence against him. Gratefully for Cardenas, Schmal
resigned giving the reason that he would be defending himself against intimidation
and defamation by unknown political enemies. Hey, at least Cardenas is giving
it his all, and we award him our Good Start of the Year Award for
the substantial efforts he has already put out. We know that we will be hearing
from the Mayor in other of his endeavors in the near future.
The Mexico City Chamber of Commerce (Canaco) "What
foreign investors are very worried about is the lack of personal safety."
They indicated that an mind-boggling one-third of all stores
in the city were robbed or broken into just during the third quarter of 1998.
Even more telling was the Canaco follow up report which stated that forty percent
of those victimized did not even both to call the police because they considered
them too corrupt to bother with. In official statisitcs, there were over a quarter
of a million reported crimes in the city alone and less then one-percent of the
criminals were arrested. Contrayr to the campaign promises of Cardenas, crime
has not only not gone down but is rising sharply since he took office.
We salute Cardenas, but just as we were about to
award him the "Good Start of the Year" award, we were informed about
another foul up. It seems that an American businessman, Peter Zarate, a Cushman
and Wakefield, real estate executive, was kidnapped and then allegedly murdered
by a gang of five men, known as El Chucky and his gang,
who confessed to the crime. The Mexico City Judge, Maria Claudia Campuzano,
called El Chucky, Guillermo Rojas Hernandez, a fugitive from justice wanted for
robbery, battery, homicide, kidnapping and 50 taxi holdups, a modern "Robin
Hood", as she signed their papers of release.
statement seemed to stem from the fact, that while El Chucky
admitted to police that he had taken $100 from the victim, but he also
confessed to disbursing $101 to his partners in crime. Obviously, this made so
little sense to the judge that she determined that the confession was coerced.
Once out in the street, Robin Hood's Merrymen wasted little time in finding a
Venezuelan tourist to beat and rob. What makes this case even more confusing is
the fact that the Judge was not even in the city when the release order was signed,
but was on holiday some distance from Mexico City.
The American State Department upon hearing this grotesque
example of Mexican justice determined that a line must be drawn and requested
Mexican Officials to conduct an investigation into the matter. Authorities have
been at a loss to explain the judges actions while the judge herself seems to
be able to shed little light on her glorification of common criminals. She has
given no indication of any logical reason for her strange behavior. But in spite
of stirring up an international incident, when the case was remanded to Supreme
Tribunal, they outlandishly took the justice to task for comparing El Chucky to
Robin Hood, but as they saw it, her judicial decision was correct. They were not
overwhelmed it seems with Mr. El Chuckys generosity to his gang, but as
they saw it, the police probably were a tad too enthusiastic in questioning gang
members who still had the marks left over from the interrogation. This and other
similar experiences have caused the U. S. embassy to issue a high level warning
to tourists, they have notified them that Mexico Citys green and yellow
Volkswagen taxi cabs could pose a major risk to visiting Americans health.
Ultimately justice triumphed, or more realistically,
gringo pressures. The judge who compared Mr. El Chucky to Robin Hood was suspended
without pay for committing no less than five procedural errors in determining
the outcome of the case. The case was remanded to another Judge for rehiring while
Judge Campuzano cooled her heels under a suspension. The State Department was
ecstatic and were convinced that Judge Hernandez would see that justice would finally be done, but to their
surprise he seemed afflicted by the same insect that bit his predecessor and
Mr. Chucky will walked again.
Because of folks like Mr. Chucky and merrymen, Mexico
City is not a very safe place for anyone, that is, other than the North
Jail which is reverently spoken of as the only place in the city where you
do not have to worry about being mugged. There are many creature comforts available
its shielded walls and well-connected inmates can partake of drugs, liquor, women
and restaurant deliveries while being incarcerated. Furthermore certain of the
prisoners can enjoy Jacuzzis, attended gardens, a maid with her own bedroom, private gymnasiums and even a childrens
The people of Mexico City did not really understand
why powerful criminals had literally no fear of jail until Francisco Wesson Munoz,
a senior drug dealer was sequestered in the prison. A local newspaper, Reforma
did a piece on his terrible prison ordeal in which they pointed out that he was
able to control drug smuggling within all of the jails in Mexico City and in his
spare time, joint venture projects with
drug operatives in Medellin and Cali Cartels.
Besides enjoying all of the
amenities outlined above, the story reported that Munoz not only charged the other
inmates rent in the prison but along with that he had a menu disturbed to his
fellow incarceraties that provided a list of available amenities and the charge
for having them provided. Apparently, this was not such a secret outside of the
country as the both the Washington Post in 1997, and Reuters, on 3/2/98 ran stories
about this home away from home for criminals who need to get away for a time.
DONT WE AUDIT THE BOOKS
Cardenas, having made one mistake after another,
determined to set the record straight and did the one thing he knew would get
his constituents attention. He audited the cities books. He found that the previous
administration stole $625 million in 1995 alone. We are talking something very
serious here; according to knowledgeable Mexican sources, for stealing that kind
of money, you can be banned from public service or in extreme cases be ordered
to pay back the stolen funds.
It can be expected that as long as the clowns running
Mexico both condone and participate in graft on a world class scale, there is
no hope for the country and we would wager that as long as these thugs stay in
office, the nation will be
"taking the gas pipe" approximately once every decade.
Thus, in the near future it is inevitable that we will see yet another
collapse of the Mexican peso; but this time spurring a national revolution in
which there is an ousting of the government in its present form. Thus, in spite
of NAFTA's ongoing cost, Uncle Sam will be forced to again dig even deeper into
his bag of goodies and provide Mexico with yet another shot in the arm.
EVERYBODY IN MEXICO HE HAD A LONG TUNNEL UNDER HIS HOUSE FOR QUICK GETAWAYS
Knowing that America's temper was getting a little
short, Mexico determined to show the world that they knew how to handle financial
criminals. Jorge Lankenau ran a banking operation called the Abaco Group in Monterrey.
Being a smart lad, and aware of the country does not prosecute financial crimes,
Jorge in one uninterrupted motion sold the bank to Citibank, raised substantial
additional funds and dipped his fingers into the whole ball of wax and walked
into the sunset with about $200 million dollars of shareholders money in his jeans.
He had created a company called Scottie Holding Corporation
which was registered in Montevideo, Uruguay, Investors were told that Scottie
would buy high yielding bonds but in reality the Montevideo company took most
of the money and allegedly purchased real estate in Atlanta. Alas, as with so
many Mexican transaction, once the money has been invested it become so hard to
locate the assets that were purchased. In this case, search as they will, no one
in either Mexico or Atlanta has been able to find the missing assets. Poor Jorge, he didn't know that the
country was looking for a scapegoat and because he was in the wrong place at the
wrong time, he was going to be it. He offered officials the usual retainers and
to his shock, they refused. Not believing that he had heard correctly, Jorge made
another offer, an even greater amount, only to be turned down again.
The police and prosecuting attorney told Jorge that
they were really going to be tough with him for stealing so much of the bank's
money. Thus, Jorge was incarcerated within his mansion in suburban Monterrey and
told not to leave the general vicinity. Jorge though was a step ahead, he had
been tipped off by the locals that he was going to be the fall guy for all that
the countless others that had stolen and walked away. Jorge was able to devise a plan
that would work to his advantage no matter what officials did.
Sometime between August 29, 1997 which was the date
of his incarceration and October 26, 1997 when authorities went to Jorge's house
to see if he was being a good boy, they discovered that he had disappeared. Our
industrious felon had dug a tunnel, albeit, at his bank's expense that ran from
his basement to freedom. Jorge did not even leave a note. He just left with all
of his money. Mexican Officials were sanguine about the affair stating that; "well
at least we tried to put someone under house arrest, that will certainly show
the rest of the world how serious we are about corruption!"
The story does not end there. Incredibly, Jorge was
caught and returned to Mexico. The police and prosecutors in Monterrey, who were
concerned that the local administration was too lenient on murders and bank thieves,
dragged him forcibly in front of a tough Mexico City Judge. Unbeknownst to them,
though, Jorge had many of the best friends money could buy in Mexico City. The
judge indicated that he didn't know what everyone was so riled up about, after
all, Jorge's bank, Confia, which, after Jorge sent most of the bank's assets and
records to Uruguay, was estimated only going to cost taxpayers a tad over $1 billion,
and that was just to reconstruct the records. What was everyone doing getting
so riled up about a small sum like this?
JUDGE IN NEED IS A JUDGE INDEED
The judge for the most part indicated that he felt
an injustice was being done to poor Jorge and remanded him back to his mansion
in Monterrey, where Jorge real friends lived. Arguments by the prosecutor, that
Jorge would attempt to join his money and records in Uruguay, which has no extradition,
fell on deaf ears. But the game wasn't over yet, the family of Fernando Canales
Clariond, Governor of the state of Neuvo Leon weren't exactly jumping for joy
over the $30 million his family invested with the errant banker and indicated
that he and his relatives would strongly
prefer that Jorge rot in jail or if possible someplace worse.
In order to bail out the problem, the American giant,
Citibank bought the bank from the Mexican Government in spite of all of its problems.
This could have had something to do with the fact that
Citibank has been under investigation for more than a year for money laundering
at the behest of Salinas, Mexico's former president. The Mexican people were incensed,
a foreign bank coming into Mexico and stealing the king's jewels. In spite of
the cost to Citibank of $400 million or more before the dust clears the Mexican
people will also have contributed in excess of $1 billion.
Banking is Good For The Bankers and Bad for Everyone Else
So why should the citizens
contribute to a Mexican bailout where the beneficiary is an American Gringo
Bank? Well pardner let me tell you the facts; in the 1990s, 18 banks were sold
to Mexican buyers that had to be liquidated by the government, of that number,
only eight remain in business today. Selling to Mexican Citizens has resulted
in a double hit to them, the first when the government aids or subsidizes the
acquiror and the second time when the acquiror goes belly up. They should know
by now that a bailout isn't a bailout when the indigenous population buys it,
it is a best a tax lose.
Well, it doesn't matter much on a global scale whether
Jorge is allowed to steal out of the country in the darkness of the night or even
under the day's transparent rays because it looks like we are going to go through
the Mexican bailout scenario all over again. This time though we are at least
getting a modicum of warning from the powers that be; after setting up a $2.5
billion dollar credit facility the finance ministry said, "With this operation,
the federal government succeeded in reducing the risk in financing its debt, obtained
protection against international volatility, reduced the risk of external shocks
on Mexico and maintained orderly access to international capital markets."
Sounds like someone is battening down the hatches for one hell of a storm.
After the U.S. bailout of Mexican banks, they became
a license to steal and everyone with light fingers that had that inclination got into banking and fulfilled their
dreams. Carlos Cabal Peniche, a $14 million donator to Zedillo's election campaign
in 1994, () seems to have made off with almost $1 billion by
looting Banca Union and Banca Cremi, a bank that he was literally handed by Guillermo
Ortiz, Zedillo's Finance Minister and now the head of Banco de Mexico. . When
he had finished plundering the banks he had the money transferred offshore and
that was the last anyone has ever seen of him until he turned up in Austraila..
Cabal who was also responsible for
laundering a substantial amount of Raul Salinas's drug funds, went underground
and has been on the run until recently with his wife and four children.
Jorge Lankenau who bought Confia cost the Government
over a billion and Angel Rodriguez, El Divino has just been shipped
back to Mexico from a Spanish Dungeon after lengthy extradition hearings.
It seems that the Divine One acquired
Asemex-Banpais banking group and used it as his personal piggy bank
by having the bank lend to companies he owned.
A little over a billion dollars latter a was found by authorities on his
yacht, Moon Dance off of the resort of Ibiza.
We Should Make Bank Robbery a Crime
The Mexican laws do not really look at bank robbery
or for that matter any other white-collar crime as something that can be satisfactorily
prosecuted. Thus, instead of putting the handsome thief in
jail, he usually winds up hanging out in the lap of luxury in a Mexican mansion.
It seems like a very strange form of justice when a man literally breaks the bank
for his own purposes, flees the country, winds up in a Spanish Jail and then is
released to return to the scene of his crime in luxury. His crimes of embezzlement
and breaking of federal banking regulations are iffy at best. In effect, that is what has occurred
and the Divine One has of this writing been set free and not punished for ruining
the lives of countless citizens.
At best, Mexico is still a very strange place. One
look at the El Divinos defense against Mexican charges should be enough
to send prosecutors fleeing for cover. He stated that even if he stole hundreds
of millions of dollars, that would only amount to a miniscule percentage of the
$65 billion that it cost Mexico to bail out its banking system. How could anyone
think of prosecuting anyone whose share was so small, he asks? He casually shifts
the blame for his problems onto Fobaproa (the deposit guarantee fund used for
the bailout) executives saying that while he only is responsible for a small percentage
of the funds losses while their incompetence and corruption are responsible
for infinitely more. I believe I am being made a scapegoat to hide the negligence
and incompetence of the people who were doing what they say was their best to
manage Fobaproa and they say the best they could do was leave us with a debt of
El Divino is particularly annoyed a Fobaproas
chief, Eduardo Fernandez, who he said took over a perfectly healthy bank and wrecked
it. Fernandez responded that El Divino sometimes distorts the truth and stated
the he is a financial delinquent devoid of moral qualities. Among
the more bizarre charges in this case is the one in which El Divino is charged
with taking out a loan at his bank to buy a plane that did not exist in the name
of a company that was imaginary. El But wait before you condemn the Divine One,
he has submitted a picture of the non-existent plane but cant seem to come
up with the company that borrowed the money. He it certainly sounds like an iron
clad defense to me. For Mexican justice
this sounds like an unbeatable defense to me.
On the Theme
Just so you wont become convinced that strange
deals only take place in Mexico City we take you to Jalisco State where they have
had a long term governor by the of Flavio Romero de Velasco. Velasco was known
for running a safe and peaceful state for its electorate to live. On the other
hand, unbeknownst to the citizenry, Romero was in bed with the major drug traffickers
in the country and traveled throughout most of the world in their company. The
former governor, now 75 years of age was running a banking business on the side
which consisted of laundering the money that his travel companions would collect
on their trips. () Romero also was trafficking in major
government positions as well by making substantive cash payments to the powers
that be in the central government. The
scam came to an screeching halt when Raul Carranca, an attorney, was charged $60,
000 to be installed as Mexicos Attorney General and never appointed. Although,
Romero explained to Carranca that a minor oversight had been committed, and he
would straighten it out, Carranca had become a very unhappy camper and turned
in the highly traveled banker.
Thought You Said That You Were Only Going to Take The Bribe
And then we have the strange case of Fernando Antonio
Gastelum, a heavy duty guy from Baja California Sur, who in addition to other
titles was the chief of the State Judicial Police. Fernando was known in the region
as a stickler for law and order and if anything was believed to be too tough on
those that were imprisoned within his domain. Imagine the peoples shock
when he was arrested for masterminding the delivery of over 10 tons, count them,
over ten tons of cocaine into his district for local use. According to the Attorney
Generals office in La Paz where he is now cooling his feet in a jail cell,
Fernando was in charge of all of the deliverys details including the arranging,
preparing and directing how and where the contraband would be brought in and distributed.
Or better yet, take the case of Rafael Munoz Talavera,
a world class drug dealers who set the American record of having 21.4 tons of
cocaine confiscated in one raid in California in 1989. Ultimately, Munoz was arrested
by police in a hotel room that had been rented by the police department a week
earlier. () He was hauled off to a jail cell that was so elaborate
that it contained an entirely stocked bar containing the drug leaders favorite
brands. Mexican authorities did Munoz
a favor by trying him there, while their American counterparts were crying for
Strange Turn of Events
U. S. Government Authorities, somewhat palliated
by what appeared to be a real trial in which the prosecutors were asking the judge
to send Munoz away for 60 years, the Americans were lulled into complacency.
In a bizarre twist, Munoz received an amparo, a writ that allows the holder to avoid jail under any circumstances,
(similar to diplomatic immunity) and was declared innocent of all charges. The
Americans awoke and ultimately found out that both the prosecutors, the
police and the judge had all been well taken care of by Munoz. The Americans
wanted justice and they got it in a second trial that handed Munoz, 20 years in
the slammer. While the Americans were out celebrating, the judges verdict
was overturned and Munoz walked again. As we write this story, Munoz is happily
ensconced in his home in Ciuddad Juarez doing what he has always done, deal in
drugs. The judges that heard his case, the police that made the arrests and prosecutors
who could never win a case against him are now for the most part, gone from office
but all much wealthier for having know him.
In referring to the problems of police and judges
acceptance of payoffs as well as a general participation in the importation of
drugs, Celia Toro head of international studies at Colegio de Mexico said that,
The cost for Mexico has been the near total destruction or dismantling of
our police and judicial systems. This is certainly a change from the historic
Mexican attitude that bribery payments had helped to augment low salaries for
high echelon police and judicial officials and represented a substantial inducement
for them to compromise God and Country for the better life.
By eliminating their ability to engage in criminal activities, some wags
have suggested, that qualified people may no longer be interested in these types
of positions. As this type of argument is not assailable, we will not comment
on it any further.
Maybe they should start dismantling operation in
the office of Sergio Mejia Sanchez, a former crackerjack deputy attorney-general
who gained a fearsome reputation as a persecutor when working with the Mexican
Federal Judicial Police (). Sergio, who came from a poor family
always prided himself on his roots and indicated that although he could barely
get along on the pay in the prosecutors office. He told the people that the good
he was doing for them, made up for his financial shortfall and he was happy he could
be contributing something back to the country that had given him so much..
Sergio was also frugal with his money and in spite
of low wages during a ten year period was able to open a bank account containing
42.8 million pesos or $6 million. Not only that he had acquired 28 properties
and had countess other bank accountants. This massive accumulation of assets by
a person whose income al of his life was just above poverty levels drew the government's
attention. Wags suggested that instead of prosecuting Sergio, prosecutors should
ask him to handle the Mexican Treasury and see if he can help balance the budget.
ARMY CUT ITSELF IN FOR A SLICE AS WELL
in Mexico, because of its critical geographical location between the drug growing
regions in Central and South America and the world largest market in the United
States, found the opportunity to good to pass up. Soon, Mexico became an important
growing and way station for the transport of the product with savvy drug dealers
also were able to create a substantial market for their products in Mexico as
United States became furious with the blatant drug dealing and transportation
and raised the threat to Mexico of pulling their certification as
an ally in the fight against drugs. Mexicos President, Zedillo, became alarmed
and personally appointed a national hero, General Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo who
soon received commendations and international awards for his no nonsense cleanup
efforts. His immediate commander, General McCaffrey described him as a soldier
of absolute, unquestioned integrity.
bald headed General did have some character flaws though, and upon appointment
made the small mistake of moving into Mexican Drug Lord, Carillo Fuentes
(), luxury Mexico City apartment. As If that wasn't
enough, it was brought to light that he had a bizarre fondness for collecting
armaments, no matter whom they belonged to. He seemed to believe that everything
within his purview was his and proceeded to strip the Mexican Fifth Military Division
in the State of Jalisco of as many of the weapons in their arsenal as he could
cart off to his office. Once solidly ensconced behind this substantial armory
he went into business with Carrillo Fuentes, a Mexican drug lord who was the head
of the Juarez cartel in Northern Mexico. Fuentes () being well aware of the arsenal that the general
had available was thrilled to give a fat slice of the take to his friend for protection
or whatever else the general choose to call it.
word of this unholy relationship along Rebollos arsenal reached Officials
in Mexico City, the anti-drug agency, the INCD, was disbanded and the General,
his army officer assistant, Javier Garcia Hernandez and five other generals were
thrown in jail. While experts have estimated that the generals facilitated the
transshipment of billions of dollars of drugs at street prices, U. S. Secretary
of State, Madeleine Albright indicated that Mexico should remain certified because
of its strong cooperation with the American Government.
maybe Mexico is cooperating, but the military sure isnt. () The
armed forces themselves have prosecuted more than half a dozen generals on drug-related
charges in the past year and during the same time frame, 30 high ranking military
personnel have been placed under arrest. Worse yet, American officials have indicated
that at a meeting that was set up by lawyers on President Zedillos military
staff between Eduardo Ganzalex Quirarte, second in command of the Fuentes Drug
Cartel, and four Mexican Generals, bribes of substantial amounts, over $60 million
were openly discussed. ()
Rebollo got himself a lawyer who as part of his defense tactics, accused other
Mexican Generals and relatives of the President Zedillo of partaking in
the drug payoffs. Tomas Arturo Gonzalez Velazquez, Rebollos lawyer who had
come with this bizarre defense ploy predictably died a natural death a short time
later in spite of the fact that his body had been riddled with high caliber bullets.
Some put the exact time of Arturo's demise almost simultaneously with his statement
in open court that President Zedillos brother-in-law had formed ties
with a major methamphetamine trafficker.() Although the Mexicans that were named by
Arturo, went ballistic over the charges and a report was forwarded to U.S. Attorney
General Janet Reno whose associates are rumored to have given the information
substantial acceptance. Even before he was shot, Arturo should have seen the handwriting
on the wall when he was arrested by military police and accused him of being behind
an attack that occurred on a witness scheduled to testify in Rebollos trial.
military officers are good guys (not to many) and some arent. Brigadier
General Jose Francisco Gallardo Rodriguez is a good guy and being a good guy,
he wrote an article for a Mexican
magazine in 1993, in which he accused the army of rescinding the civil rights
of both soldiers and civilians. Naturally, the general was thrown into jail for
defaming the military.
action caused the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, an affiliate of the
Organization of American States to became so outraged that they issued
a report that the military had committed an Abuse of power by it actions
regarding the general. So much pressure enveloped the military over the matter
that these early charges were pushed aside and new ones submitted. It seems that
the General was in charge of the horse stables and as such was selling
government horse feed to private industry. If that wasnt enough to
have him incarcerated for five years, prosecutors then contended that he had burned
the government records that would have been incriminating. Essentially, the Government's
case consisted of the fact that the reason that they had no evidence against him
was the fact that he had destroyed it. That
certainly sounds to me like enough to send the poor sole to jail for life.
government brought in scores of witnesses that had observed or were aware of the
generals illicit activities. Among the extraordinary testimony in the case
was that of a colonel testifying on behalf of the prosecution who indicated that
it was a former Mexican Defense Minister who had given orders to send the government
horsefeed to his own private ranch, not Jose as the Government was charging.
evidence of this kind, naturally Gallardo was convicted on these charges and sentenced
to an additional 14 years and 8 months in jail for misuse of public funds. It
did not end there, two months later, the general was sentenced to 14 more years
in jail for illegal enrichment. The moral of this story is that 14 is a lucky
number in Mexico apparently for everyone but Gallardo. Amnesty International indicated
that the general had received a bad rap and that all he had done was to defend
human rights. The went on to say that, The Mexican government should immediately
and unconditionally free General Jose Francisco Gallardo who has been jailed in
an arbitrary manner just for expressing his ideas about the need to set up a peoples
defender in the armed forces to investigate accusations of human rights abuses.
We consider him a prisoner of conscience and therefore demand his release.
wait a minute, these do gooders have overlooked a major thing, in Mexico, arguing
against public policy by a government official is considered an act of treason
and it can be punishable by as much as life in prison. By getting all of these
people all riled up, who knows, the general could get life or even the firing
squad for his offense. Maybe Amnesty International ought to fold its tent before
something really serious happens to this poor guy.
GOING TO BE FAIR AND THROW THE MONEY IN THE AIR, WHAT COMES DOWN I KEEP AND WHAT
STAYS UP BELONGS TO GOD
Carlos Salinas was the previous president of Mexico
and as such, just before leaving office he arranged with his loyal brother to
back up his truck into the country's treasury and then stuffed aboard everything
in sight.. He left on the next plane
to Ireland where he lives like a monarch and has not been back to the country
of his birth since.
Brother Raul Salinas, preferred the Mexican climate
and was certain that the lenient rules governing dictators raiding the treasury
would also apply to dictator's brothers. Wrong, Mr. Salinas; an aggressive young
prosecutor had him convicted of murder and investigations are continuing over
his alleged shakedown of drug leaders while his brother was in office. While Raul
denies the accusations, evidence has shown that his valet, Justo Ceja accumulated
an estate of over $3 million in just the last few months of Carlos Salinass
rule as Mexican President. As an
interesting addendum to Justos incredible good fortune in earning so much
money, a Mexican magazine, Proceso was running a front-page picture of Justo and
Francisco Arellano Felix, Mexicos notorious drug lord having drinks together.
Raul was sent up the river after being convicted
during a fair trail, although his jail cell looks more like the Taj Mahal than
it does your standard Mexican fare. Lo and behold, the prosecutor who had made
the miscalculation of going after a crime committed by a member of the family
in power was arrested, convicted and sent to jail for fabricating evidence against
Salinas. The young prosecutor though has a standard type cell, which he shares
with a substantial number of other criminals along with an assortment of rats and bugs. In a cry for justice,
Lozano Gracia, a former Mexican Attorney general has stated publicly that the
only thing the prosecutor was guilty
of was "solving a case that was too sensitive for Mexico's society".
We would side with Salinas who seems to have gotten
a rotten deal if it wasn't for his wife's interference. It seems that the
Raul's delicate wife was busy shaking down witnesses while he was being tried
for murder and then committed perjury when called on the carpet by officials to
explain her actions. Patricia Paulina Castanon, Raul Salinass wife, along
with her secretary Ofelia Calvo attempted to coerce a former employee into falsely
testifying that calls from Munoz Rocha to Raul Salinas were just a figment of
his imagination. Now the reason that this stirred up such a fuss is the fact that
you see, it was Mr. Rocha who hired the confessed assassin. She fled Mexico and
was soon arrested in Switzerland for using a phony passport in an aborted attempt
to illegally make a small withdrawal from the Swiss Bank where Raul kept a portion
of his retirement funds. The withdrawal notice which read $84 million received
attention at the bank and when the lovely lady was asked to confirm her identity,
she produced a forgery that was so amateurish, the fastidious Swiss were literally
forced to arrest her on the spot.
Now mind you, Raul never held a job other than as
his brother's assistant. This just goes to show you the power of compound interest
and a solid Christian work ethic. Mrs. Salinas was able to get a court order,
which protected her against arrest in the matter and is not expected to face any
jail time for her Swiss oriented problem, on the other hand, Pat has recently,
really been kicking up a storm about her husband having his television taken away.
she has totally infuriated everyone in Mexico, because, naturally, no one was
supposed to know that he had his on TV in jail to begin with. She furthermore
did not seem to know anything about social customs in Mexico and that it is totally
verboten to grumble about treatment in a Mexican jail, you could lose your caviar
privileges. We have to give thumbs up to the little lady for being able to twice
defy justice when starring jail terms in two countries dead in the face. Thumbs
up Mrs. Salinas, even if they stick you in the pokey for perjury, you are a stand
up wife !
Although Raul Salinas never had a day job, he was
kept very busy with affairs of state, primarily those of the sovereign state of
Columbia with their ad hoc capital in Cali. But Salinas was not one to make the
playing field unleveled for anyone with a buck; the Mexican Gulf Cartel headed
by Jose Rodriguez Gach also utilized Rauls services.
Miguel Rodrigeuz Orejuelas personal accountant, Guillermo Pallamari
turned himself into American DEA Officials and has become a protected guest of
the United States Government. As such, he has provided an interesting insight
into Rauls operations.
It seems that Mr. Salinass job description
included release of seized drug busts and free passage for air shipments of contraband
material of any kind. On one occasion, he was able to recover 3,000 kilograms
of cocaine that had been confiscated by Government Authorities for his associates.
Aside from the tens of millions of dollars of cash which he was paid, laundered
courtesy of City Bank, () Mr. Salinas also received recompense
in the form of watches, paintings and diamond jewels for his wife.
() Dont get the opinion that Mr. Salinas was
pushy in his demands but he was refereed to by the Cali drug lords as Chupa Sangre, Bloodsucker.
But Raul Salinas was the sort of guy that could handle
more than one job at a time and because he was so talented he was even able to
take on work from out- of -towners. Among other illustrious clients were the Cali
Drug Cartel people from neighboring Columbia. Some Mexicans believe that
Salinas only took on the assignment as a good will gesture on behalf of his brother
the President. The $80 million in bribes that has been substantiated by the former
Cali accountant who is spilling his guts out in Switzerland, is illustrative of
what hard work can result in. Here was a person that was doing a good deed for
no apparent gain at all and low and behold, those marvelous Cali folks were so
grateful to him that they coughed up 80 big ones. It just shows you that if you
do favors for people even though it may put you out a bit, in the long run you
will be rewarded.
The Swiss, having opened the Salinas situation determined
that there should be a trial, albeit in absensia under the terribly Swiss theory
that if they find money that is earned in dishonest ways, on deposit in their
bank's, in theory after a kangaroo court case they can seize the money and forever
include it in the coffurs. Thus, they seized somewhat in excess of $100 million
out of Raul's various accounts housed in Switzerland. Although Salinas is residing
in a Mexican prison, he has only been charged with graft and homicide in the 1994
murder of Jos'e Francisco Ruiz Massieu. ghnever been charged of anything, thus
the Swiss report of these set in motion a world wide search for what he pilfered
while his brother was in office. The New York Times ran a blub by Julia Preston
on what the Mexican authories came across while looking in the matter:
"Federal prosecutors disclosed today that they
are investigating 289 bank accounts in Mexico, the United States and Europe controlled
by Mr. Salilnas or his accountants, with deposits totalilng $119 million. Those
funds are separate from the Swiss accoutsn, the investigators said.
"The Mexican Government had also earlier seized
an account in Britain holding $23.5 million. In addition, investigations have
turned ujp 123 properties that authorities say belonged to Mr. Salinas, from homes
to horse ranches, including 37 outside of Mexico.
"...In a swecret, unreleased 369 page report
on their inquiry, parts of which became available last month, the Swiss police
investigators asserted that "a cautious estimate" of the money Rau'l
Salinas obtained from drug traffickers during the 10 years before his arrest would
be "a total fo at least $500 million."
Reuters gives us a more in depth look at the Swiss
"Once Carlos Salinas was elected president of
Mexico in 1988, officials say, his borther Raul took control of practically all
drug shipments transiting Mexico. He bribed members of the police and the army,
thus making sure the booming drug business was facilitated or rather, protected,"
"For instance, on very specific days -- known
as green-light dayhs --loads of drugs from Colombia were allowed to be carried
to and across Mexico without being checked by the police and army. Raul Salinas
even provided trucks and railroad freight cars of state-owned business enterprises,"
Although the Mexican Government annouced that they
wanted their share of the money from Switzerland, officials took great offense
at the report labeling Mexico as a "Narco State".
Fun Loving People
The Mexican people are basically fun loving just
as people are in America and this whole Salinas episode became more of a joke
than a sad story about how the people had been ripped off by their senior government
officials and their families. This stuff was really old had but Salinas had stolen
the peoples money a particular panache. Almost as a monument to his theft, Mexican
merchants created rubber caricature masks of the former president and these have
been sold in Mexico City and throughout the remainder of the country as satiric
humor. This form of humor and protest is similar in many ways as it is in American
where masks have been made of Richard
Nixon along with other American Presidents.
Licensed merchants in the open-air market in central
Mexico City seeing the Salinas thing start to become old news had a mask of the
current Mexican President, Ernesto Zedillo made and put it on
sale in the square along side of the formerly popular Salinas caricature. This
did not seem to amuse the President and suddenly, 30, count them 30 federal police
ascended on the square with their rifles cocked and ready to fire on these pathetic
soles barley scrounging out a living should they make a move to flee. I mean,
these poor souls couldnt fight their combined way out of a paper bag and
it seemed as though the entire Mexican Army had descended upon them. I guess the
moral of this story is dont make masks in the image of guys that have no
sense of humor and run a country. Boy would I hate to be a stand up political
humorist in this country, youd have a life expectancy of about 5 minutes.
Having dispensed with these vendors that offered
a monumental threat to Mexican society as they know it, Zedillo went about some
other less consequential house cleaning chores. The fact that most people working
in Mexican organizations that are charged with fighting crime usually wind up
in league with the thieves has caused this law and order president
no end of grief. Although, an issue
not nearly as important as street vendors selling masks of presidents. This
is one top notch administrator and to illustrate this fact , you only have to
read the statement that stunned people all over Mexico for its insight: Many
state prosecutor offices, including the federal attorney generals office,
have been penetrated by elements that not only dont fight crime, but help
crime and participate directly in crimes. The enemy is in our own home. Violent
crime is rising three times fast than the population growth rate in Mexico.
It seems to me that at the rate crime is growing in Mexico, there will
be more crimes than people to criminalize within just a short number of years,
which would throw more people out of work. The Mexican President is right to want
to get his house in order now, before the situation becomes serious.
YOUR VERY OWN BANK
If you are in the drug business, one of the best
things to have is a bank where you can launder your ill gotten gains and that
is exactly what Amado Carillo Fuentes, The Lord of the Skies, the
most powerful drug dealer in Mexico had in mind when he acquired troubled Group
Financiero Anahuac in 1996. The always alert Mexican Government discovered this
by accident when police came upon one of the banks cars in a drug safe house
that was being raided during a bust. It soon became that the bank's car had been
loaned to Vincente, Carillos son.
But it wasn't the fact that the bank's cars were
being used in drug deals that concerned officials, it was another incident, also
brilliantly uncovered by officials that caused the bank problems. It was when
Mexican National Securities and Banking authorities found that Carillo was not
only its largest shareholder but also the largest depositor that authorities became
concerned. What this genius had created was the greatest money laundering scheme
in global history. Having your own bank. Officials went ballistic, and promised
that countless heads would roll over this monumental screw up. People knew without
question that banking commissioners, regulators and bureaucrats would soon be
thrown in the clink. But in typical
Mexican fashion, officials have arrested only one person, Juan Alberto Zepeda
Novelo, a senior officer of Bufete Industrial SA, the second largest construction
company in Mexico.
The attorney general has identified Juan as the a
money launderer for the Juarez Cartel () while the incarcerated Mr. Novelo, in his defense
has indicated that he only opened up an account for his son at the bank and $20,000
worth of shares had been purchased in the sons name. It seems typically
Mexican when you have people like President Ernesto Zedillos brother,
the son () and nephew of former Mexican President Miguel de
la Madrid and a former presidential candidate of the opposition National Action
Party () all had strong connections to the bank hierarchy
during this period and they have picked on this poor soul who at the very worst
has a criminal for a son while the big fish walk.
Know, Let's Form Another Organization
So the Mexico United Against Crime organization,
made up of almost 50 civic Mexican organizations, took roots and their spokesman,
Guillermo Velasco stated the obvious, Society can no longer keep waiting,
actions must be immediate. He went on to say that crime is a cancer
of political dimensions because at this point people dont trust the police,
this is the beginning of social chaos. I guess when you have a country made
of people to frightened to go outside
and travelers unwilling to visit the country, you are talking about social chaos;
if it quakes like a duck and flies like a duck and looks like a duck, I guess
it must be a duck.
The United Nations stepped into the breach with an
extensive report whose allegations won praises from most Mexican civil rights
groups. The report detailed allegations of routine torture and beatings by both
the Mexican police and army. The most frequent methods of torture are indiscriminate
beatings, attempts at suffocation by placing the victims head in a plastic
bag or submerging it in water, forcing large quantities of liquid into the mouth
and nose, or hanging by the neck or extremities in order to apply electric shocks.
When asked about his views on the report, the Mexican President Zedillo indicated
that were in no rush to address the charges.
A report, purportedly hand delivered to President
Zedillo and written by the militarys Center for Anti-Narcotics Intelligence
(CIAN) , indicated that a handful of sitting and former governors, the
son of a former Mexican President, Miguel de la Madrid, well-known businessmen
and two former heads of the federal police force (), were in the employ of the drug cartels and were
actually threatening the power of the national government. This report, has been sitting in the hands of high level Mexican
Officials for almost three years without any attempt to verify its statements.
The fact that two-thirds of all cocaine entering the United States comes in by-way
Mexico and senior Mexican Officials have for almost twenty years had their tentacles
into drug dealers camps and vice versa, yet the amount of Government output to
put a stop to these relationships have been Lilliputian at best.
But the Mexican's have one card to play that we have
not addressed. Luckily, for our neighbors South of the Border,
they have the equivalent of the American FBI in an elite group that they
call the Federal Judicial Police. These people are fearless and incorruptible
and the department has an unblemished record. Adrian Carrera Fuentes ran this
elite Mexican force for a substantial period of time and won great public acclaim
for the work he did.
OF THE BORDER DOWN MEXICO WAY
In Tijuana, Mexico, just across the border from San
Diego, there resides a fearless drug trafficking group called the Arellano Felix
brothers not only at the top of Mexicos most wanted list but its members
are wanted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation as well. These
people have considered human life about as important as an American Turkey around
Thanksgiving time. Wanted in both countries for murder, drugs and kidnapping among other crimes, these
are not the kind of people you would want to invite to your lawn party. That is,
unless your name was Adrian Carrera Fuentes, former chief of Mexicos most
highly regarded federal police agency, who reportedly thought the gang had all
of the right social amenities and joined their team while being gainfully employed
to stamp them out. Well, it may well be that someone isnt doing the right
thing in Mexican Government, I mean having all these talented people choosing
the wrong friends and all or could it be that they are just taking a page out
of the book that the presidents write.
Ultimately Adrian got caught and attempted to cope
a plea by giving testimony linking former first brother, Raul Salinas to the laundering
of over $132 million dollars for his friends in the major Mexican drug cartels,
Juan Garcia Abrego of the Gulf Cartel,
now serving his time in a Texas prison and Amado Carrillo who has since passed
away. The Mexican newspaper El Universal indicated in a story on 4/24,1998 that
Adrian had received more than $100 million in bribes. The paper went
on to say the Raul Salinas lovely wife had admitted to authorities that
her husbands money came from bribes by the various drug cartels.
It seems in this case though, that Mexicos
then first brother stands accused of masterminded the assassination of
Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu in 1994. The then number two official in the Institutional
Revolutionary Party, the party in power. In one of the strangest twists known
to man, Fuentes was convicted of helping Mario Ruiz Massieu, Jose Francisco Ruiz
Massieus brother, cover up his murder. Now why on earth would a guys
brother want to allow the perpetrator of such an act go free. Well in Mexico this
is does not necessarily require brain surgery. According to the Mexican Government,
everyone seemed to be in on the bribes coming from the drug cartel, both Fuentes,
Massieu and Salinas were not interested in having that get out and it was much
simpler letting the actual perpetrator slip through the cracks.
Massieu took a large briefcase filled with money
and crossed the border into the U.S. and today is happily residing there as American
officials have turned down extradition requests from the Mexican Government on
numerous occasions. The fact that this was a drug related cover-up had little
to do with the conviction as the case's political overtones were what made the
case of interest. Salinas, the ex-president is still enjoying Irish hospitality
while his brother remains a guest
of the State awaiting a murder hearing. This affair is just almost too much to
Just Have To Do Something About This Situation Before It Get Out of Hand
The announcement of the latest arrest of a high ranking
Mexican Law Enforcement official came similtaniouly with a nationwide protest
against crime. Many ideas were exchanged as to how best to address a situation
while the U. S. State Department is busily advising visitors to Mexico City not
to take taxi cabs. When the dust had cleared and the speeches had ended, Rodolfo
Debernardi, Chief of Police of Mexico City said it best, I think the person
who could end the crime problem has yet to be born. Yet human rights groups gave the Zedillo
Government credit for some improvement, the say, Since 1995 only somewhat
more than 100 human rights activists have received death threats, been physically
intimidated, threatened with disappearance, abduction or rape. Since Zedillo took
power in 1994, 11 journalists have been murdered and more than 125 have been physically
assaulted () You can certainly empathize with Zedillo about
journalists, they tend to get so pushy and about things that they shouldnt.
I mean you really can't blame a man that is trying to run a country and all these
folks are always getting in his way.
Seems As Though Someone Is In The Cookie Jar
That is especially true with folks like Ariel Maldonado
Leza around. You see, Ariel was a high level official of the Attorney Generals
office (PGR), whose particular title was director general of Interagency Coordination.
In English that means, he was responsible for making sure that the various police
agencies investigating a kidnapping were coordinated in their efforts to root
out the perpetrators. Ariel was so well placed and his job so critical to a government
whose credibility had shrunk to near zero in combating this type of crime, that
he was awarded two chauffeurs.
It seems Ariel and his two chauffeurs commandeered
an agency Ram Charger vehicle and along with six other good friends disguised
themselves as federal police. They pulled over a Mexican businessman, yanked him
out of the car and drove him off in the Ram Charger. Soon, a ransom note
appeared, but the jolly group had not counted on thing, the victims
cousin saw the entire event, wrote down the vehicles license number and
was able to identify the director general as the leader of the plot. It just goes
to show you that if you cant trust a director general, who can you trust.
Strange Corporate Culture
And yet many were applauding what was going, those
private businesses that were supposed to insure peoples safety. Many of
the crimes in Mexico, especially kidnapping go unreported because of the fact
that major corporations would like to have their negotiations go as quietly as
possible and then leave the incident behind them. Mexican Law Enforcement Officials
tend to muck things up when they are called in. When the things get too mucked,
people can get killed and that is not what the game is all about.
Talk about growth industries, armor plated cars is
now the in thing in Mexico City. Evasion courses for drivers are privately
offered in almost every big city or better yet, rather then go to school and learn
how to be a driver that can successfully evade kidnappers, hire one. Although
having a driver that knows the ropes is probably the most intelligent way of avoiding
being taken captive, everyone that is anyone in Mexico now has a bodyguard. Among
the elite, these people can be easily spotted wearing their mirrored sunglasses
in even the darkest of nights. Now that every Mexican that is anybody has one
of these people, signs have sprung up such as, A sign at one upscale cinema
at the Santa Fe shopping mall reminds patrons that bodyguards must have their
own tickets. At the Edron International school in southwestern Mexico City, parents
received a circular warning that bodyguards were banned from entering school grounds
when dropping off the kids. ()
Do Have a Tendency of Disappearing Here.
Policemen and soldiers are increasingly involved
in the disappearance of detainees in Mexico, the human rights organization Amnesty
International said in a report issued today. In most cases there is strong,
or even incontrovertible, evidence of official participation in carrying out disappearance,
yet those responsible continue to shamelessly benefit from impunity, the
London-based groups report said. () The report goes on to say that in spite of the
enormous increase in disappearances, the government takes the line that almost
all of these cases are solved and what is to be concerned about. This non problem
is a little is like Harvey the rabbit, he doesnt exist but he keeps popping
up at the most inconvenient times. The only time, it seems, the victims ever have
a chance of reappearing is when a hew and cry goes up from the people in a loud
enough fashion to frighten the bureaucrats. For some strange reason, the few folks
that suddenly and mysteriously reappear
and for the most part seem dazed and to a man, complain of extreme torture.
A logical question at this point may be, why
in a freely elected democratic society do not the people rise up and throw out
these folks? Well not everyone in Mexico knows what is going on. Important
Mexican newspapers are dependent on government their advertising for their very
survival and if the indigenous papers dont play ball, they find that their
revenue stream has just dried up. The Government also can let it be known that
it does not want particular subjects discussed in the Mexican media. An interesting
example of this was the recent UNESCO sponsored, International Conference
on Freedom of the Press, held in Mexico City. Not only were reporters told definitively
not to cover the conference, but prominent Mexicans that were scheduled
to speak abruptly canceled without reason.
Freedom of speech or in the alternative, of reporting
is not a right enjoyed within Mexico proper. Another example of the controled
press is the rescent devasting explosion of a fireworks plant in Tultepec. Although
the Red Cross did a body count and individual indentified the countless victims,
the Governmor of the state of Mexico, Camacho, who arrived substantially after
the explosion had run its course plucked a substantially lower number out of the
air and that became the office toll.
Reuters did a piece on October 14, 1998 on the subject
which bears looking at:
"Last month aukthorieis in southern Chiapas
state denied an internal government report obtained by Reuters saying more than
400 people died in severe flooding. They siad the death toll was around 200 and
the report did "not correspond to reality."
The Red Cross estimated that hurricane Pauline killed
400 people when it battered Mexico's Pacific coastline in 1997, bu the government
again gave a lower death count, of 173."
In 1992, eitght mies of gas pipe blew up under the
streets of Mexico's second City, Guadalajara. The government said 208 died, but
local media put the figure far higher."
Survivors of Tlatelolco -- Mexico's equivalent of
China's Tiananmen Square bloodbath -- and foreign correspondents said up to 300
people were killed after security forces opened fire on a plaza packed with students
30 years ago. The government estimate was just 32 and has still not been changed".
Fact That You Have Lived Here Forever Does Not Make It Early Enough
Another trick to keep prying eyes away from what
the Mexicans may consider to be unsightly linen, is amplified by their action
in the ongoing war between the government and the Indians in the State of Chiapas.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) thinks that the Indians did not arrive
early enough in Mexico to have any say as to what goes on and therefore should
be treated as 3rd class citizens. Part of being third class in Mexico
means that you could not only disappear at a moments notice, never to be heard
from again or even more definitive, you could be killed. The PRI has been using
both techniques with central government acquiescence to a fair-the-well. Naturally,
do-gooders from around the world have attempted to see first hand what is going
on and although most countries would appreciate the increase in tourism, Mexico
has determined that the travelers safety is at extreme risk and banned them
from the area.
Can't We Have Fun Like Everyone Else?
But before we start casting stones at the police
and their incompetence, consider what life would be like without them. Mmmm No
more murders, kidnapping and drug dealing you say. Cmon, it really not that
bad, these are fun guys just out for a good time and everyone gets down on them.
Like the time in early April, 98, when a few of the police near
Acapulco went got drunk and went for a little ride close to town, these
fun guys spotted an army convoy full of soldiers and couldnt think of anything
that would be more fun than shooting it up. These terrific fellas started firing
their automatics into the convoy and were really enjoying it when the soldiers
started firing back to protect themselves. The army made short work of the policemen
and really turned a good time into a bummer. This is exactly why police turn to
corruption. Every time they want to enjoy themselves in the same way other people
do, someone is always getting in the way.
We hope those army guys really get disciplined for firing back and killing
those fun loving policemen.
So we have seen that Mexico does not seem to prosecute
many crimes and one would think that their jails would be empty. After all, with
kidnappers, there are no witnesses, with drug dealers there are corrupt judges,
with politicians, there is precedent and with bank robbers there is always Spain,
Switzerland or Ireland. Who then winds up in the jail if everyone has a deal?.
Horse of a Different Color
Recently, the Mexico Citys Attorney Generals
Office issued arrest warrants for three IBM Officials who supplied to the city
a $27 million dollar computer system that wouldnt work. What made matters
really sticky for the guys from IBM was the fact that the contract was for the
upgrading of the computer system which surprisingly is involved in the citys
criminal investigations. Not a small job, it amounted to 10 percent of the Attorney
Generals budget, was designed to tie together over 2000 computers linking
70 offices and was to provide a database for the investigation of criminal activity.
It seems that there are two charges involved here,
the first is that the contract should not have been awarded without competitive
biding but that doesn't seem to impact IBM. It would seem more likely that one
or more of the city fathers should be questioned on that score. The next charge
seems to be that it isnt functioning properly, to which IBM responded that
not only did the computer work but that the price was fair. Something certainly
seems strange here when murderers, drug dealers and kidnappers walk and IBM constructs
a computer system that they consider meets or surpasses the criteria and at a
price that is fair. What arent they telling us?
Well it seems that although past presidents and politicians
are exempt from their crimes while in office, the people that worked for them
may not be. The attorney general was appointed by the man most likely to be running
for president of Mexico on the opposition ticket and who is currently given a
great chance of winning, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas. He is currently, Mexico City's first
elected Mayor this century and won his post on a campaign of combating graft and
ferreting out those that were corrupt in the previous administration.
Along with the IBM personnel arrested, 19 former
city officials were also handed arrest warrants and the story now begins to make
some sense. Elections are around the corner and by taking on both IBM and the
former administration, Cardenas is obviously hoping to build up big brownie points
with the voters and if a few executives from one of the biggest companies in the
evil empire north of the border have to rot in a Mexico City prison to achieve
that end, well, who is to say?
DONT GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME, OR THE SECOND OR THE
Privatization is usually the act of selling something that the Government
owns and operates, to private industry, for a price, hoping that better management
will bring in tax revenues. There is not much that governments havent tried
to pawn off on investors but when Mexico came up with a plan to sell something
that didnt exist at all, it seemed to the originators to be a most wondrous
Mexico was faced with a number of problems in the
1980s. They were just recovering from the largest financial collapse of a government
in economic history and their infrastructure lay in ruins. The government had
no money to finance the necessary public works projects that were necessary. The
transportation system in the country was already untenable and with only inferior
roads to begin with; lack of funds to fix what little infrastructure existed was
causing a downward spiral that seemed almost bottomless. To make matters even
worse, the nations construction companies were in chaos, with most of them
close to bankruptcy. This was a problem that required a universal solution, and
the dazzling bureaucrats who had been responsible for the devastating economic
predicament that the country was in, got together and came up with a one of the
most bizarre solutions the civilized world had not seen since Marie Antoinettes
answer to French starvation.
Mexico would auction off the right to build toll-roads
throughout the country and let the builders determine what the tariff would be
for their use. Thus, with one fell swoop, the transportation infrastructure would
be modernized, the construction industry would be revitalized and , the government
would receive tax revenues. The plan was quickly approved and the bidding for
the opportunity to own the highway system seemed like a great idea to everyone.
Those that it appealed to most were the very industries that were in so much trouble
to begin with, the construction companies and the banks. These deep thinking economists
determined that they would bid for the right to build the roads, construct them
themselves, pay back the money by securitizing the future value of toll collection
and walk away with a big score.
WE HAVE A DEAL FOR YOU, THIS BRIDGE IS LOCATED ON THE EAST RIVER BETWEEN MANHATTAN
AND BROOKLYN AND AS YOUR AGENT I CAN SECURE FOR YOU AT AN UNBELIVABLE PRICE.
Wrong! Many of the roads that were built
started literally nowhere and did not go anywhere from there. Others had tolls
that charged so much for their use that no one could afford to travel on them.
Some were casualties of criminally inferior analysis, where usage predictions
had no relationship to reality at all. The construction companies and the banks
went along with the most ill-conceived construction project since the building
of the Chernobyl Atomic facility, did not bode well for the economy as a whole.
It became obvious that great thinkers such as these would find some other way
to destroy what was left standing of the countries fragile economic infrastructure
With talent like this available, it was not hard
to predict that the Countrys collapse was imminent. That was unquestionably
a given, but its severity, in monetary terms, even exceeded the world record it
had set earlier. The disastrous toll-road problem took a back seat to an entire
nation in economic ruin. Not wanting to have a neighbor in such straits, the United
States promptly wrote the check and induced the IMF and the World bank to do the
same, but that is another story for another time.
Having sufficiently recovered to address some of
the corpses still littering the landscape, the Mexican Government has now come
up with a novel solution to the problem. They will buy back the roads from private
industry, by issuing their own debt in exchange for that of the construction companies
and that of the banks. The government would take control of the toll-roads and
make them profitable by reducing the tolls to make the roads more affordable.
SMAILOUT, WHATEVER IT IS YOU HAVE TO LOOK AFTER YOUR OWN
This awesome reasoning seems to parallel the previous
governments logic in its convolution. It does not take a high IQ to make
the leap of faith that if reducing the fees would have made the highways economical,
the private owners of the roads would have done it. No, this will not work; it
is pure and simply a standard Mexican bailout. It was best put by William F. Foote,
who did an analysis of the Mexican infrastructure for the Institute of Current
World Affairs, With this bailout, the Mexican public is being told to pay
tolls as taxpayers that they wouldnt pay as motorists.
The estimate of this small fiasco, by
Mexican standards, where catastrophes seem to cost more than anywhere else, is
estimated by authorities to be a staggering $7 billion. Bureaucrats indicate that
this number could be higher, as they plan to install improved management into
the system. With management being supplied by Mexican authorities, we may be looking
at the start of World War III.
Want To Be In Pictures
Because of boondoggles like the highways that lead nowhere, street cleaners in the state of
Tabasco were fired for lack of money, and given literally no severance pay.
They determined to show their ire at national officials by parading in
front of a stunned legislature, turning their backs and dropping their shorts.
This was only a prelude, a few weeks later they invaded Congress and began
throwing potted plants at the guards while their comrades maintained a hunger
strike on the front steps.
The Tobasco street cleaners were not alone in their
unhappiness with the government., a group of people employed in the
Mexican sugar refining industry who did not feel that
they had made the proper impact by camping in front of congress for two
months also stormed congress and beat up an number of the guards as they stripped
down to their trousers in front of the stunned legislators. Close on the heels
of the street cleaners and refiners were the teachers from Baja California Sur
state who attempted mayhem on the Finance Minister, Guillermo Ortiz shortly after
he had constructed what they considered to be an unacceptable budget. Some at
the scene indicated that if were not for the bodyguards positioned strategically
in the area, that came to his rescue, the finance minister would have been turned
into "chopped liver" by the rampaging females.
The chamber has been known for its physical approach
to politics for many years as those with opposing political views often use their
fists instead of oratory in attempting to get their points across. But then again,
this is Mexico, a land of hot tempers and beautiful women. Many of the most beautiful
of the Mexican Women are offered jobs in congress to dress up in mini skirts and
work the building aiding the legislator's in whatever way the can. It has now
turned out that some of the services that this corps had been providing to elected
officials had gone far beyond the their job descriptions. They too felt that working conditions
were not what they should be.
LAWS ARE EXCELLENT, THAT IS FOR SOME OF US
There are national laws, and international laws and
civil laws and Mexican Laws. The former are all based on a great deal of logic
and later is off the wall. The fact that no one much cares about what the law
is or is not in this country is why the legislators have some much time on their
hands to run after the pretty women with whom they share the legislature. In 1973,
then Mexican President, Luis Echeverria determined that 38 pheasants that owned
a squalid piece of land in Hermosillo should have the land impounded and they
should be moved off the property. Luis, after this audacious act, turned the barren
parcel over to Grupo Mexico, who within a short period of time made the amazing
discovery that the land contained copper. Not just copper mind you, but the largest
copper find in all of Mexico, fully 50% of the countrys production in a
country noted for its mines. Since that time, Grupo has taken out billions of
dollars of copper, built an enormous smelter and has a payroll of over 4,000 people.
The peasants went to court over 20 years ago to protest
what they believed to be the theft of their lands and ultimately, the court determined
that they indeed were right and ordered Grupo to remove all installations
from the communal land in thirty days. Anywhere but in Mexico this would
have been devastating considering that fully 50% of Grupos earnings come
from this copper deposit and they are in the process of an enormous equity raise
in the United States. But then again, this is Mexico, Mr. Garcia de Quevedo, a
senior executive with Grupo stated, The ruling will have no effect on the
operations of the mining group. It has no importance whatsoever. As to the
lawsuits fallout on their American financing, Garcia was again rather sanguine,
This is an inconvenience; it ties up our lawyers.
Fire and A Half
As if God did not like what he was seeing in Mexico,
a fire started, not just a fire mind you but as Saddam Hussein would say, the
Mother of all Fires. It started in typical fashion, slashing and burning of the
jungles to make way for agriculture the same way the pheasants had been doing
it for centuries except this year
was a little different, they had
not counted on the effects of El Nino. The worlds jungles are usually
moist enough that any fires are not a serious matter, except of course when natural
events have created a dry season like non other seen on the content in hundreds
So the fire started and it raged and raged. Its smoke
clouds choked inhabitants as far away as Chicago and Miami and health alarms were
sounded all over the State of Texas. This fire made the Indonesian nightmare that
wrecked havoc on tourism in the entire Pacific Rim look like a boy scoot campfire.
Three thousand firefighters were brought in and aid was forthcoming from many
of the adjoining country and yet it still raged. So far, the toll stands at 12,627
fires since the beginning of 1998 with 144 being of the major variety along with
60 dead. Mexico just cant catch a break.
As we fondly bid goodbye to beautiful Mexico, the
land of beautiful women, extraordinarily corrupt politicians, the worlds
second richest drug lords, generals who make alliances with the devil and worse
and kidnappers sometime looking for only enough for their next meal, we can leave
with a better understanding of why so many Mexicans attempt to elude American
border police on their way into the United States. Just as Germany is about to
conquer Europe economically through the Euro when the couldnt take it by
military power, the Mexicans are retaking the American West in a cross border
invasion that has no precident. These people are attempting to make a living in
a country where the playing field isnt tilted at a 90% degree angle.
FACT THAT YOU WERE HERE FIRST DOES NOT MEAN ANYTHING HERE
While the natives head north or the border, the real
Mexicans, the Indians of which there are 9 million seem to be headed for
extinction faster than you can blink an eye. Indiana rights groups have charged
that the Mexican Government is encouraging paramilitary gangs to kill Indian leaders
the are becoming too uppity. As the Indians stand up more and more for their rights,
their leaders vanish and others are
killed. Many of the Indians living in the village of Acteal were killed as blood
thirsty paramilitary bands rushed through the streets shooting everything that
moved. They were not even slowed down in their slaughter by local soldiers who
stood ideally by as genocide was committed.
As the heat rises, more and more international rights
groups have been taking an interest in what is going on. The foreign interlopers
are dealt with harshly by the Mexican Government and Jeff Conant who was sent
home said, We have been deported not for the reasons stated but for witnessing
an act of war by the Mexican government against its own people,
The Mexican State of Chiapas has become an almost armed camp and the fighting
is expected to intensify as the days become hotter.
Our point in all of this is to illustrate the fact
that those in power are equally opportunity hate mongers, who seem to take the
villains side in whatever happens in the country. Drug dealers, kidnappers, wayward
police chiefs, defrocked generals, crooked judges and tarnished ex-presidents
seem to find immunity in their impunity in this Alice and Wonderland world where
wrong becomes right because it is backed by muscle. Rosario Green, Mexicos
Foreign Minister became defensive when the entire civilized world began to criticize
the countrys repressive actions and stated; What we as a government
are doing, and I much regret that you take it as an act of xenophobia, I see it
as an act in defense of national sovereignty.
Sovereignty, my hearing aid, this government anoints thugs with the right
to massacre a population that has lived in Mexico for over three thousand years
and defends it by stating that it is in the national interests.
With all of these problems, one would think that
there were no bright areas to dot the Mexican Landscape, but the one organization
that all Mexicans proclaim as pure as the driven snow is the Mexican, Red Cross.
Always there in a time of need, the organization record has been spotless, at
least until now. Eleven of the twenty seven members making up the Red Cross National
Council of Mexico recently resigned accusing their three time President, Jose
Barroso with corruption and abuse of power. Although only early returns have come
in, and Barroso has dug in his heels, it seems that some aid shipments from countries
such as the United States have not quite arrived and others, while supposedly
donated have apparently been paid for as well. The man on the street can only
shake has head and mutter, "if we can't trust the head of the Red Cross,
who can we trust? Certainly not the Mexican Government."
Barroso, for his part indicates that the who thing is over the fact that
he wouldn't endorse the use of condoms for prevention of AIDS. Sure Jose, and
if I buy that one, what are you going to try to sell me next?
With all of this, its stern neighbor to the North,
turns the other way and has allowed a world class dictatorship to evolve next
door. The United States invaded Haiti, Granada and Panama for a lot less. While everyone holds their breath waiting for
the United States to tell Mexico that it has had enough, the years have stretched
into decades. The next depression in Mexico, never too far away will bring with
it massive revolution and change. Once set to boil, the caldron can not easily
be set on another course.