Former president Miguel de la Madrid continued his public exercise in self abasement. His office distributed a one page letter sent to reporter Carmen Aristegui with yet another revision on his assessment of his successor. The letter read in part, “To weigh the government of Carlos Salinas it is necessary the take into account the important modernization that he promoted in various areas of national life.” (Universal 5/27)
Joaquin López-Doriga’s column in Milenio is a good summary of the political environment:
With the passage of the weeks, scandal has been the constant. The book of Ahumada, from whom everyone is trying to distance themselves, without being able to deny their own past; Madrazo’s own book, as part of his effort at reinvention, accusing ex-presidents Ernesto Zedillo and Vicente Fox of ties to drug trafficking; the statements of Miguel De la Madrid recognizing that he made a mistake in selecting Carlos Salinas, talking of relationships with drug trafficking and mentioning the name of two of his brothers, Raúl and Enrique, and the civil death that Salinas decreed on his predecessor, annulling the judgment and condemning de la Madrid to political limbo; the YouTube video of Fidel Herrera and the efforts to censor the Internet; the accusations of drug trafficking against a brother of Ricardo Monreal, his saying that Amalia García has ties with organized crime, her response calling him a coward, and the counter reply saying that the governor and her daughter, Senator Claudia Corichi, were oriental queens and princesses; the flight of 53 prisoners from the jail in Zacatecas, freed by an armed commando; the dismantling of a protection network for the Beltrán Leyvas in Morelos after discovering a safe house only 100 meters from the governor’s mansion in Cuernavaca; the firing of the state attorney general, the detentions of the state minister for public safety and the Cuernavaca police chief; and the call by Manlio Fabio Beltrones to all ex-presidents to shut up until July 5th. These form the scenery against which the ongoing electoral process will yield the lowest rate of citizen participation in response to the use of scandal and double talk, cynicism and hypocrisy, as method.
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.
Carlos Ahumada, the protagonist of the so-called video scandals of 2004 that stained Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s image as a squeaky clean politician, has written a tell-all book (Derecho de Replica – ‘Right of Reply’) that implicates members across the political establishment, but especially the PRI and PAN, in corrupt acts involving Ahumada himself. He has proven himself to be an unreliable self-promoter, but his allegations play well to Mexican instincts that their political system is, as Ramón Alberto Garza puts it, “a gigantic screen of colors, emblems, and parties, where principles, ideals, platforms, voters, and citizens don’t count.” Columnist Yuriria Sierra called it, “A 375-page gift to AMLO’s movement.”
A bit of a recap: In 2004, five videotapes (filmed by Ahumada himself) were released to the Mexico media showing him making cash payoffs to René Bejarano, one of AMLO’s closest associates and at the time a member of the DF Legislative Assembly, and Carlos Ímaz, the head of the Mexico City borough of Tlalpan. The payoffs were to secure construction contracts for companies that Ahumada, a naturalized Mexican of Argentine origin, owned. AMLO was at the time Mexico City’s mayor. The tapes were broadcast on TV by reporter Victor Trujillo, who received the tapes from then PAN Senator Fernando Doring. Ahumada also financed 17 gambling excursions of the DF Finance chief, Gustavo Ponce, who was separately videotaped at the gaming tables in Las Vegas. The disclosures coincided with the Fox government’s controversial attempt to strip AMLO of his legal immunity while in office. Bejarano, Ponce, and Ímaz all resigned in disgrace, though AMLO was never personally implicated. The threat of disclosures of more tapes hung over the 2006 presidential election campaign, although none surfaced. Ahumada himself was extradited from Cuba, where he had fled, was convicted of bribery. He now lives in Buenos Aires.