Sixteen Years after
the Assassination of a Journalist...
officials and political consultants participating in the cover-up?
in El Universal, May 30, 2000:
the Buendía Case
Narco News Bulletin, on the 16th memorial of the assassination
of Mexican journalist Manuel Buendía, publishes an English
translation of today's column by Carlos Ramírez, Mexico's
most widely-read newspaper columnist, that calls to re-open the
investigation of the 1984 narco-assassination.
explores the allegations that a key member of Mexico's ruling
party, Manuel Bartlett, was responsible for the crime and its
Narco News Bulletin adds commentary and analysis aimed at Washington:
1. Why the silence by US Ambassador
on the Bartlett matter today? When Bartlett was a political rival
of PRI presidential candidate Francisco Labastida, Davidow attacked
him. Now that Bartlett is on the team of the PRI candidate --
who enjoyed a
closed-door audience last Saturday with Davidow in Mexico City -- the narco-ambassador
has fallen silent.
2. It is time
for US political
consultants Stanley Greenberg and James Carville to clarify their roles
with the Labastida campaign that is now run by Bartlett: Are they in or are they
if they have left the campaign, why the silence about what happened?
(Full disclosure: Carville and the publisher of The Narco News
Bulletin are old friends.)
today's column by Carlos Ramírez:
by Narco News commentary)
Bartlett, and Narco-Politics
The gangsterization of the State, in 1984
Indicator: May 30, 2000
Connected by political
facts from the start of the process of narcotization of the Mexican
State, Manuel Bartlett, now one of the principal campaign operators
of PRI presidential candidate Francisco Labastida, today will
pass his time at peace. Today marks 16 years since the assassination
of columnist Manuel Buendía, who was shot in 1984 for
revealing the penetration of the narco in the office of the Secretary
of Government that was headed by Manuel Bartlett.
When the special prosecutor
in the Buendía case, Miguel Angel García Domínguez,
ended his investigation under pressure of the entering president
Carlos Salinas de Gortari, he delivered his conclusions that
exclusively blamed José Antonio Zorrilla Pérez,
then director of the Federal Security Agency, the political police
corps that answered directly to Manuel Bartlett as Secretary
But the conclusions of
García Domínguez inexplicably left untouched by
any judicial subpoena not only Bartlett, but also then-Defense
Secretary Juan Arévalo Gardoqui and President Miguel de
la Madrid, the three men signaled as responsible for the error
-- to say the least -- that permitted the growth of drug trafficking
in México. Since 1984, drug trafficking has not only grown
here, but has penetrated the structures of State power and the
Buendía was assassinated
on May 30, 1984, on a street near the Zona Rosa of México
City. The investigation was covered-up by the Federal Security
Agency. The last investigations undertaken by Buendía
into drug trafficking led him into the rural indigenous areas
of the country. Buendía had responded to a newspaper ad
by the Catholic bishops in the south of the country where they
denounced the penetration of the narco in rural Mexico but also
the complicity of the Army and police corps.
Buendía did not
finish his investigation. His assassination came almost a year
before, in February of 1985, the assassination of US anti-drug
agent Enrique Camarena Salazar in Guadalajara had exposed the
penetration of drug traffickers in the Mexican police. The two
police chiefs that reported directly to the Secretary of Government
in 1985 -- in effect, to Manuel Bartlett -- turned out to be
directly connected to the principal drug trafficking gangs of
Rafael Caro Quintero, Ernesto Fonseca and Miguel Félix
Agents of the the Political
and Social Investigations Agency and of the Federal Security
Agency were discovered as protectors of drug trafficking in México.
The Attorney General of the Republic, in the investigation of
the assassination of Camarena, found credentials of the Federal
Security police in the name of drug traffickers. Caro Quintero
escaped to Costa Rica using a credential of the Federal Security
Agency with his photo but with another name. The credentials
in the Attorney General's file were requested by Bartlett from
Attorney General Sergio García Ramírez for "an
exhaustive investigation" but were then disappeared by Bartlett.
García Ramírez complained to President De la Madrid
but didn't succeed at getting any response.
That which Buendía
was investigating months before was confirmed by the assassination
of Camerena, a DEA agent assigned to the US Consulate in Guadalajara.
Did Bartlett know or not that his Political and Social Investigations
Agency and Federal Security Agency were protecting drug traffickers?
There are testimony transcripts from a collaborator of the accused
police chief Zorrilla in the Federal Security Agency, José
Luis Esqueda, that directly informed Bartlett that the agency
protected drug traffickers. In place of launching a house-cleaning,
Bartlett reassigned Esqueda to a municipal support office, until
one night when the agent was shot down while using a public telephone.
Thus, Bartlett did know
about the activities of his two police forces in favor of drug
traffickers but did nothing to correct them. One of the excuses
offered by Bartlett was to say that the police chief Zorrilla
was recommended by Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios, one of
the most important bosses of political-police security in the
Mexican government. Zorrilla had come to the Federal Security
Agency through Gutiérrez Barrios, but testimonies collected
by Jorge G. Castañeda in his book, "The Inheritance"
about Mexican presidential succession in 2000 indicate that Zorrilla,
in 1985, had already broken with Gutiérrez Barrios and
reported directly to Bartlett.
Various of the commanders
of the Federal Security Agency and the Political Investigations
Agency were the principal protectors of drug traffickers. There
have been cases in which the Federal Security commanders guarded
trucks of drugs from Chiapas to the US border. In spite of these
facts, Bartlett did absolutely nothing to correct these irregularities.
But when the Camarena scandal exploded and the facts of police
protection of the narco began to become known, Bartlett separated
himself from Zorrillo by sending him to Hidalgo as a candidate
for Congress and he disappeared the two police agencies to create
the National Security and Intelligence Agency.
The investigation of the
assassination of Buendía always seemed to bring the presumed
guilt of Zorrilla in strange directions. Including that the prosecutor
wanted to blame the murder on a crime of pasión. But over
time it was proven that the Buendía assassination was
a political crime, that initiated the long cycle of instability
and destabilization and the first that drew the line of narco-violence.
Zorrilla disappeared from the political arena in 1985 and reappeared
in 1986. He was questioned various times over the Buendía
case but always was left free for a lack of evidence.
In 1989, the special prosecutor
García Domínguez presented his conclusions and
incriminated Zorrilla as guilty of the assassination. The García
Domínguez investigation was deficient, although the prosecutor
received a promotion as a prize. The principal fault of García
Domínguez was that his investigation went only as far
as Zorrilla, the police chief, and did not subpoeana Bartlett,
General Arévalo or President de la Madrid, the three men
connected in the suspicions of the crime by drug traffickers.
But García Domínguez protected Bartlett.
The apprehension of Zorrilla
as the guilty assassin of Buendía was a gift made by Carlos
Salinas to Mexican journalists because it was announced on June
7, 1989, the National Freedom of the Press Day. Zorrilla was
a friend of Buendía until his death. The strange relationship
of friendship endured anger and delicate information. In this
sense, it is not proven that Zorrilla was the man who killed
Buendía. Still, there was testimony that should have focused
the investigations toward the Military turf of General Arévalo
Gardoqui, because of the facts that Buendía had incriminated
officials of the army in the protection of drug traffickers.
Zorrilla was guilty in
order to detour the investigation of the assassination to put
a distance between the crime and other government officials.
Today in prison, Zorrilla has taken care to not speak about the
theme but reiterates his innocence. In this sense, and for the
irregularities in the investigation in the crime against the
columnist, it is important the the investigation be reopened
to arrive at the root of the first Mexican assassination linked
to drug trafficking.
The urgency of reopening
the file on the Buendía assassination is of grave concern
to Manuel Bartlett's web of power: first he was on the final
list of candidates for the presidency in 1987, next he was Secretary
of Education in the Salinas government, he was made governor
of Puebla by Joseph-Marie Córdoba Montoya. Today, Francisco
Labastida, knowing of the suspicions over the role of Bartlett
in the surge of drug trafficking in México and of the
judicial subpoena over Bartlett in the United States for the
Camarena case, made Bartlett a candidate for federal senate and
promotes him as the Senate President of the PRI in the next Congress.
But a number of files
regarding Bartlett are still open: That of Buendía is
one and that of the narco is another that is also related with
the columnist's assassination. Sixteen years after the death
of Buendía true justice is still awaited. But Bartlett
already counts with the protection of Labastida.
On November 30, 1998,
the above-mentioned Manuel Bartlett was an aspiring candidate
for the ruling PRI party's nomination for president of Mexico.
As such, he was in the way of the ambitions of Francisco Labastida.
On that day, in an interview with Zeta magazine of Tijuana, US
Ambassador to Mexico Jeffrey Davidow signaled -- for the first
time -- Washington's bias toward Labastida.
Always looking forward,
the US State Department instructed its Mexican spokesman to make
a verbal hit upon Bartlett, thus "decertifying" him
and, in effect, destroying his presidential chances. Davidow
boomed: "Bartlett must declare!" He said that Bartlett
faces a subpoena in US federal court in California over the 1985
assassination of US DEA agent Kiki Camarena. The Bartlett campaign
never recovered from that blow, and Labastida, a year later,
was crowned as the PRI-Washington candidate for the presidency
The man who one Mexican
commentator has called "Ambassador
has suddenly fallen silent (as he tends to do whenever the tough questions are pitched to him). Because now
that Davidow's rooster in the Mexican presidential cockfight
has tapped Bartlett to run his own campaign, anything more that
Davidow says about Bartlett will shine poorly upon Labastida.
Last Saturday, May 24,
2000, Ambassador Davidow held a closed-door meeting with Labastida
in Mexico City. It was a day after the nationally televised debate
between Labastida and his two leading rivals, Vicente Fox and
But what of the late DEA
agent Kiki Camarena? How do current DEA agents feel about the
most recent betrayal by the US ambassador to the memory of their
And what about US and
Mexican journalists, who, like the DEA agents, have lost at least
one colleague under the watch of the man who now runs the Labastida
Where is the historic
memory among journalists and law enforcers of both countries?
points out that Labastida has offered Bartlett more than total
immunity and the continued cover-up of the Buendía and
Camarena assassinations: he has offered Bartlett a continued
important role in the governing of Mexico.
That Jeffrey Davidow is
complicit in the cover-up of the assassination of a Mexican journalist
is nothing new for the narco-ambassador. Davidow was the US official
in charge of covering up the
assassination of US journalist Charles Horman in Chile in 1973. Davidow also protects and defends
another key Labastida operative, the ambassador's traveling buddy
Carlos Hank González, father of Jorge Hank Rohn, presumed
responsible in the 1988 narco-assassination of Tijuana journalist
Félix Miranda. (Another silence that we hope will be broken
soon is that of Miranda colleague Jesús Blancornelas,
editor of Zeta magazine, regarding the Davidow-Hank axis. Blancornelas
probably did not know, when he interviewed Davidow in 1998 about
Bartlett, of Davidow's
enjoyment of Hank hospitality from the family mansion in Mexico to the Central
American republic of Costa Rica.)
Davidow is the protector
of what Mexicans call the "dinosaur" faction of the
ruling PRI party in Mexico. Like the mad scientist in the film
Jurassic Park he is not only unleashing a terror upon his own
colony that is Mexico, but one that cannot be controlled by the
3,000 mile US-Mexican border.
Nothing from Davidow,
the corrupt narco-ambassador of the United States in Mexico,
surprises us anymore. But we at Narco News are just a little
bit taken aback by the reported participation, and seek a clarification
from, two US political consultants in the Bartlett-managed Labastida
and Greenberg Must Declare"
The publisher of The Narco
News Bulletin makes a personal request:
I like Jim Carville. Always
have. Straight-talking, ethical, loyal, a great writer and orator,
sharp mind at not only politics but also economics, and with
a healthy distrust of the Washington establishment in which he
moves. I liked Carville before I knew him. And I have always
liked him since.
We have dined together
on his turf: The Palms restaurant in Washington DC; and closer
to mine, the hot-dog cart on the MIT campus in Massachusetts.
I think I understand Carville pretty well; from his formation
under LSU professor and author T. Harry Williams to his marriage
with GOP consultant and TV host Mary Matalin, who also has earned
my bipartisan friendship and maximum respect.
I don't know Stanley Greenberg,
the White House pollster, at all. He's married to US Rep. Laura
de Rosa (D-Connecticut). From a distance, he always struck me
as a bit technocratic for my tastes. Nothing wrong with that:
the world needs bean counters.
I do have a pretty good
idea how Carville and Greenberg got messed up in the Labastida
campaign. The President of the United States, Bill Clinton, acting
on terrible advice from the narco-ambassador Jeffrey Davidow,
once again preyed upon Carville's sense of loyalty and asked
him to take on Labastida as a client.
Carville did a pretty
good job for Labastida in the primary: Working closely with then-Labastida
campaign manager Esteban Moctezuma, they beat back the primary
challenge of Tabasco governor Roberto Madrazo Pintado last November
But Mexican politics isn't
rocket science: it is more complex and difficult than mere astro-physics.
And in recent weeks, the Labastida campaign has, to say the least,
After Labastida's poor
performance in the first presidential debate, Moctezuma -- the
key operative of the liberal wing of the PRI -- was purged. And
Labastida brought back "the dinosaurs" like Bartlett,
Carlos Hank and the narco-fixer Emilio Gamboa Patrón.
Thus, here they go again:
The July 2nd election in Mexico promises to be fraught with Electoral
Fraud. That is: vote-buying, intimidation, false voter credentials,
stuffing of ballot boxes and -- Bartlett's specialty since he
engineered the fall of the election computer system in 1988 to
ensure Carlos Salinas would be declared victor over the people's
choice Cárdenas -- computer tampering.
Now there are published
rumors in Mexico that Greenberg, the pollster, and Carville,
the consultant, are out of the campaign along with Moctezuma.
Labastida, interestingly, has brought in the favored consultant
of Davidow's Pinochet forces in Chile to finish the job.
Not knowing what goes
on behind closed doors at the Oval Office, but knowing very well
the personalities and the dynamics between them, my theory is
that Clinton convinced Carville to take on Labastida as client
with the usual ruse: That his participation would help usher
in the "democratization" of Mexico.
The bloom is now off that
rose. And Carville must know it. The question is (and knowing
the players suggests a clear answer): Has James Carville left
the Labastida campaign out of an attack of conscience after realizing
just how dirty, undemocratic and stained with narco-money the
2000 Mexican presidential election has become?
The first US political
reporter to get a response out of Carville will have an international
story on his or her hands.
Is Carville still a consultant
And if not, why did he
And on a personal note
to James: That which doesn't kill us makes us stronger. We can
all learn lessons from these experiences, no? If you want to
take the iniciative to explain what happened between the Labastida
campaign and you in your own words, I offer you every opportunity
to speak, unedited and uncensored, here on The Narco News Bulletin.
in a country called América,
on this 16th memorial
of the assassination of Manuel Buendía,