May 21, 2001
The Information Blockade
The Mexican Press
Narco News 2001
Clamor in Mexico
Político Column: May 21, 2001
It Is Said
that Citibank "Launders" and Buys Banamex
Fox Praises It
Clamor: First It Should Pay Its FOBAPROA Debt
Warned Us When Banamex Tried to Buy Bancomer
it is said that Citibank "launders"
drug trafficking money and in spite of that buys Banamex doesn't
matter: President Vicente Fox praises it.
The same day that Citigroup, owner of
Citibank, acquired Banamex and the purchase was announced and
formalized, there had been a hasty presidential praise - just
like when the Indigenous Law was passed. After he asked how much
the bank made - and it will continue wearing the name of Mexico
- it falls into the hands of a very questionable foreign institution.
But Fox said that that the investment demonstrates "the
absolute confidence in the economic policy" of his government,
as well as "the strengthening of the peso."
However, the optimism of the commander
in chief contrasts with the recommendations of "prudence"
that the principal advisors and raters of investment on Wall
Street have made and with the newspaper reports, including last
Friday in El Universal, that recalled that Citibank has
been suspected in various cases of "laundering money from
drug trafficking" of Raul Salinas de Gortari among others,
that some years ago provoked a public scandal.
But beyond the recognition of the President
and of critiques, suspicions and accusations over the recent
acquisition of Banamex, what is on the minds of many today is
whether the large sum that Banamex received in this $12.5 billion
dollar sale - more than120 billion Mexican pesos - will pay the
debt that it contracted after buying the Mexican institution
for $3 billion, 195 million dollars (that, in 1991, was 9 billion,
745 million pesos) and it owes to the FOBAPROA, and later the
IPAB funds, after the bank bailout of the last presidential term.
purchase of Banamex by Citigroup completed
on Thursday of last week, and described by some financial specialists
as "the deal of the century," also recalls that severe
charge that Carlos Slim Helu, president of the Carso Group, made
a year ago against Roberto Hernandez Ramirez, director of Banamex-Accival,
the powerful financial group, when he tried to acquire the Bank
of Commerce (Bancomer) and the purchase was, in the end, made
by the Bilbao Vizcaya-Argentina bank.
Slim then declared that "it is a
shame and a cynicism" that the principal stockholders of
Banamex-Accival, headed by Hernandez Ramirez, would try to sell
their stock to purchase Bancomer "instead of paying their
financial bankruptcies that stem from FOBAPROA," after revealing
that "the only bank where the stockholders did not lose
in spite of the bankruptcies was Banamex, which proves the favoritism
that existed in FOBAPROA."
He also said that the better alternative
to financially rescue Bancomer was the proposal of the Spanish
bank since, he warned, "Banamex only wants Bancomer in order
to dismantle it." Months later, in effect, BBV-Argentina
Slim Helu mocked Hernandez Ramirez a year
ago, who had declared that Banamex-Accival tried to merge with
Bancomer in order to reach a "world-class size."
And Slim predicted what just happened:
"Neither alone, nor together, will they be of world-class
size. If they want to enter the world arena, they will end up
buying a third foreign bank because making an institution bigger
doesn't mean it will be better or stronger."
Hand Washes Another
Rubin, Roberto Hernández and Sandy Weill
conflict between Slim Helu and Hernandez
Ramirez happened in mid-May of last year, only two months before
the presidential election and in moments in which both men were
signaled as sympathizers with the then-candidates of the PRI,
Francisco Labastida, and of the PAN, Vicente Fox, respectively,
something that the president of the Carso Group roundly denied,
although he admitted that he did back the candidacies of some
of his friends who sought popular election.
What Slim Helu said about Banamex-Accival
having to sell its stocks, but to do so in order to pay its financial
bankruptcies that are in the FOBAPROA fund, has been reiterated
now by the PRI and the PRD, whose national and legislative leaders
demand that the amount of unpaid debt that they must liquidate
be reported to the public and that it be paid to the Mexican
Dulce Maria Sauri, national leader of
the PRI, said that she understood that the institution of Hernandez
Ramirez has an unpaid debt of more than three billion dollars
and that "it would be highly recommendable, very laudable,
that if this merger happens, there be absolute clarity and transparency
in how much this bank had in the FOBAPROA fund and now has in
the IPAB," because that would avoid suspicions and many
headaches since "the only ones who profit are the stockholders
of Banamex-Accival while the Mexican people continue paying the
The Yucatan politician declared herself
to be against the idea that the stockholders of this institution
would receive a double benefit: The federal government rescued
them under the last president, with the transfer of their loans
to FOBAPROA. And now they receive billions of dollars while the
Mexican people continue to pay.
For her part, Amalia Garcia, national
leader of the PRD, and Marti Batres, that party's leader in the
House of Representatives, agreed that Banamex-Accival must be
acquired by Citigroup with debts and all and pay what it still
owes to the IPAB fund.
Carlos Navarette, spokesman for that party
of the Aztec Sun, asked, with more than enough reason: "Why
are the Mexican people going to pay, through taxes, for the financial
bankruptcy of a bank that today is successful because it has
foreign capital, and also, because its owners are being paid
in dollars?" That, certainly, is what is being asked far
and wide inside national territory. Why do the Mexican people
have to pay the debts of a fistful of bankers and stockholders
of Banamex-Accival that today have made the deal of their lives
with the acquisition of this bank without paying anything and
now they succeed in selling it for more than $12 billion dollars?
With all that - and the grave matter that
it is said that Citibank "launders" money from drug
trafficking, or that it does it or does not - and it buys Banamex-Accival,
or whether or not President Fox praises the deal, his government
should not permit that the immense majority of Mexicans continue
paying the debts of a privileged minority, scandalously enriched,
when the country needs resources and tries to obtain them from
those who have the least.
for Those Who Have the Least