The Justice Ministry suspended its investigation into the disappearance and presumed kidnapping of PAN notable Diego Fernández de Cevallos after Diego’s sons called on the authorities to step aside, “to facilitate negotiations and protect the life of our father.” A near complete news blackout continues, in what columnist Jacobo Zabludovsky termed “the most important political news of the year in Mexico.” (Universal 5/23, 5/24)
Even as the military and police carried out searches by air and ground, authorities have not released any information on the disappearance and presumed kidnapping of PAN heavyweight Diego Fernández de Cevallos, 69. Jefe Diego was the party’s candidate for President in 1994, a former Senator and Deputy, and one of its most colorful and controversial characters. He disappeared on his ranch in Queretaro Friday night. The government has acknowledged ‘signs of violence’ in his abandoned Hummer, with some stories alleging bloody footprints or bullet holes in the vehicle. Government Secretary Fernando Gómez Mont, Attorney General Arturo Chávez, and Public Safety Secretary Genaro García Luna all traveled to the state. Queretaro governor José Calzada Rovirosa (PRI) held his own security cabinet meeting at the headquarters of the 17th military zone. Noted the Bajo Reserva column of El Universal, “The worst crisis of public safety in memory strikes directly at the heart of the party of the President of the Republic…. The country is at the mercy of organized crime despite the campaign promises not only of the PAN and but all the parties in government.” (Universal 5/17)
Gómez Mont stressed on several occasions that he would continue to work for the President’s agenda, even after his break with the party. “President Calderón and I are in constant communication; we each have our own points of view. He is the President, and I am the Government Secretary, and I serve the President,” he said at a law forum. His resignation reverberated within the party. Former president Vicente Fox and former party president Manuel Espino said Gómez Mont did the right thing. Former presidential candidate Diego Fernández de Cevallos said the PRD and PAN were irreconcilable on fundamental issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Fernández said the PAN could beat the PRI on its own, “if we have leaders of stature who behave in ways that merit respect.”
Nonetheless, the PAN National Council endorsed the electoral coalitions already approved by the central committee. Absent from the Council meeting were President Calderón, Fox, Espino, and congressional leader Josefina Vázquez Mota. While a number of current PAN senators voiced support for keeping Gómez Mont in the cabinet, there is constant speculation of how long he will remain in the cabinet. President Calderón has avoided comment on the controversy. (Universal 2/12)
Former PAN Senator and presidential candidate Diego Fernández de Cevallos criticized the Government’s tax plan: “If the government wants to bring in more resources to address so many problems and so many deficiencies, in my opinion, it ought to … reduce tax rates and broaden the tax base and raise more revenues that way.” Former President Vicente Fox said he favored a generalized 15% value added tax (i.e., not raising rates, but removing exemptions) while warning that only a successful economy could reduce poverty, not direct subsidy programs. (Universal 9/28, Reforma 9/26)
The fundamental allegation of Carlos Ahumada’s book, as excerpted by El Universal:
“[Former president] Carlos Salinas gave me money in exchange for the videos. Before delivering them he gave me approximately Ps. 35 million. [...] Carlos Salinas confided in me that one of the issues that he had negotiated with President [Vicente] Fox in exchange for the videos, through [PAN Senator] Diego Fernández de Cevallos, was the exoneration from all charges, including murder, that were then pending against [his brother] Raúl in prison, as well as the return by the Attorney General of all his assets, including the millions of dollars frozen by the Justice Ministry. And all this happened…. Raúl was freed and exonerated on June 14, 2005. … Salinas was the brains behind the video scandals. I was the one with the videos … Diego Fernández de Cevallos was the coordinator.”
Proceso has lengthy excerpts from the book. El Universal has a detailed chronology.