The Narco News Bulletin
Name of Our Country is América"
The DSFX Files Continued
to Arrest Journalists:
Five Days Before
Gunmen Attacked the Cancún HQ of the Daily
Por Esto!, Federal Prosecutors Sought Arrest Warrants
Against the Journalists Who Work at that Office
than the Gunmen, the PGR, on Behalf of BANAMEX, Attempted their
Ambush Behind Closed Doors
I, II, and III
reported the facts on how the DSFX espionage firm in the United
States spied on journalists from the Mexican daily Por Esto!
and on Narco News regarding a Columbia University forum
in New York City
of that academic forum, obtained by DSFX using false pretenses
soon found its way to Mexico to be used in an even more blatant
attack on Freedom of the Press
Today, the story
of how the Mexican Attorney General and Roberto Hernández
Ramírez of BANAMEX tried to obtain secret arrest warrants
against investigative journalists using that videotape
On Thursday, August 24, 2000, Mexican
federal prosecutor Josefina Salas Del Real of the Procuraduría
General de la República (PGR), filed a secret motion before
Manuel Ortíz Alcaraz, federal judge in Cancún seeking
RENATO MENÉNDEZ RODRÍGUEZ (editor), RENAN GABRIEL
CASTRO MADERA (reporter), LIZANDRO ARMÍN CORONADO ALCOCER
(reporter) and GONZALO SUBIRATS GARCÍA (photographer),
all of the cited newspaper (POR ESTO) respectively for their
probable guilt in the commission of the crimes of: A). Violation
of the Press Law, and B.) Defamation... in offense against THE
FINANCIAL INSTITUTION "NATIONAL BANK OF MEXICO, INC."
and its CEO ROBERTO HERNÁNEZ RAMÍREZ..."
The majority of the motion's
27 pages simply repeated a prior attempt at an arrest warrant
made in March, 1999, rejected by judges, and the entire motion
was thrown out of court on September 6, 1999 by Supreme Court
Justice of Quintana Roo Maria Teresa Castro Rios.
That prosecution, like
this recent one, was based on a claim that the Por Esto! journalists
had violated two laws in their investigative reports on cocaine
trafficking in the Caribbean beachfront properties of Roberto
Hernández Ramírez, president of BANAMEX, the National
Bank of Mexico.
Prosecutors claimed again
that the newspaper and its journalists had "defamed"
not only Hernández but also the institution of BANAMEX
with their reports, and that reporters Renan Castro and Lizandro
Coronado, and photographer Gonzalo Subirats, criminally trespassed
on Hernández properties when they witnessed and took photos
of cocaine trafficking evidence there in December of 1996 and
again in 1997. The journalistic team spent entire days and nights
on the premises investigating and reporting the facts.
The first prosecution
failed when the Supreme Court Justice, Maria Teresa Castro Rios,
ruled that "All of the reports in Por Esto! were based on
Related legal findings
were that BANAMEX, as an institution, had no standing to accuse
the newspaper because the reports were about its president as
an individual, and that the charge of criminal tresspass was
irrelevant because the properties of which Hernández holds
title are located on the coastal Sian Ka'an Nature Reservation,
which is "the patrimony of all Mexican people."
Prosecutors stated that:
"POR ESTO" has published in its pages a series of editorials,
reports and photographs... (that) contain a series of accusations
against the financial institution represented (BANAMEX) as financial
intermediary, including "money laundering" and diverse
illicit activities related to narco-trafficking, indicating that
they realized the activities in an uncontrollable form and were
made in some properties located in the State of Quintana Roo,
more precisely in the real estate known by the name of Punta
Pajaros, a place where according to the information proportioned
by "POR ESTO" is a center of operations of narco-trafficking
bands, property of Mr. ROBERTO HERNÁNDEZ RAMÍREZ,
president and stockholder of Banamex-Accival."
The prosecution motion
further quoted various employees of BANAMEX, of another Hernández
owned company called "Actividades Cinegeticas Panamericana",
and of "Centro Turistico Playa Blanca", including a
bartender and a forester to state that they had never seen narco-trafficking
in that place, and that boats did not arrive by dark of night
carrying tons of cocaine.
The only major difference
between this motion by the PGR and the previous failed attempt
that crashed in September 1999, was the addition of "new
evidence" that the federal prosecutors mistakenly thought
would re-open their case:
"On July 13 of this
year, appearing before the federal prosecutor's office, Attorney
MAURO REGIS MARTÍN, legal representative of the National
Bank of Mexico, Inc., with the goal of exhibiting the original
and photocopies of a written translation to Spanish by Investigator-Translator
CARMEN GRACIELA CORONADO DE ALBA, and there he exhibited to be
added to the file that is being acted upon a VHS videocassette,
Polaroid brand, that contains the conference that MARIO RENATO
MENÉNDEZ RODRÍGUEZ realized in the Law School of
Columbia University in the United States of America; there appeared
CARMEN GRACIELA CORONADO DE ALBA, Investigator-Translator, with
the goal of ratifying in all and each of its parts her work of
July 10th of this year, and where she said that this document
is a translation from the English language to Spanish that consists
of 32 pages of the event videotaped where various persons intervened
inside a symposium that took place at the Law School at Columbia
The PGR motion went on
to state in its August 24th motion that:
"Finally on the 21st
of this year and month, there appeared before the Social Representation
of the Federation Attorney MARCELINO RÚBEN REYES ESCAMILLA,
in his character as legal representative of Banamex, with the
goal of demonstrating that on April 12th of this year he formulated
the widening of the accusation and-or complaint against the editor
and publisher of the newspaper "POR ESTO", Mario Renato
Menéndez Rodríguez, for acts committed by this
person in offense against my client, in the City of New York,
of the United States of North America..."
Specifically, the BANAMEX
attorney, according to the PGR document, complained about issue
2581 of the daily Por Esto!, "a supplement edited"
by Menéndez, and words that appeared on pages two and
three of that supplement:
WAR AGAINST DRUGS
IMAGE OF A DECOMPOSED FACE IS SHOWN
FACE OF THE PRESIDENT AND PRINCIPAL STOCKHOLDER OF "BANAMEX-ACCIVAL"
And the Banamex attorney also cited another
paragraph from that report:
EDUARDOÑO BRAND SHARK BOATS, CONFISCATED ALSO ON THE PROPERTIES
OF THE PRESIDENT AND PRINCIPAL STOCKHOLDER OF BANAMEX-ACCIVAL,
AND THE OBJECTS USED BY NARCO-SAILORS, IN PERFECT CONDITION,
THAT CAME FROM COLOMBIA"
The PGR motion doesn't say it, but that
caption was accompanied by photos of what it described. The PGR
also objected to Por Esto!'s description of Hernández
as associated with former (and disgraced) Mexican president Carlos
Salinas, who privatized the National Bank of Mexico and sold
it to Hernández at a bargain price:
The PGR motion also stated:
"The newspaper "POR
ESTO" whose editor and publisher is Mr. MARIO RENATO MENÉNDEZ
RODRÍGUEZ, published a series of attributions in its issue
number 2581, the supplement edited by him... dated in the City
of New York, for which we solicit the understanding judge to
take special emphasis to the publication of April 4th of this
year and the translation by the Investigator-Translator CARMEN
GRACIELA CORONADO DE ALBA... where various persons spoke inside
a symposium that took place in the Law School of Columbia University...
that is of interest to the Social Representation of the Federation."
Narco News notes that the only one of
the four defendants present at the Columbia University forum
was Mario Menéndez. However, the "translation"
-- poorly executed, with names misstated and mispelled, grave
errors in Spanish language syntax and manipulated distortions
of the words spoken -- contains the words of only one other named
panelist: those of Narco News publisher Al Giordano; "of
interest," says the PGR, "to the Social Representation
of the Federation."
The "translation" will be presented
this week on Narco News.
It contains one page of the introduction
(the translator states only that they are the words of "the
person that makes the presentation") by the dynamic Kiovanna
Rodríguez of the Latin American Law Students Association
(LALSA) who invited Menendez and the other panelists.
It contains 19 pages of the words of Mario
Menéndez, with some, but not all, of the questions from
And it contains 12 pages of the words
of the Narco News publisher, who moderated the Colombia
University Law School panel.
Narco News thanks the Investigator-Translator
CARMEN GRACIELA CORONADO
DE ALBA for her efforts at making a gratis (for Narco News)
translation for our Spanish language readers, and, indeed, her
poorly-made "translation" will help speed our ability
to make the text available in Spanish.
But the translation, however,
does not meet Narco News standards for accuracy and so
must be reviewed line by line with the video of the presentation
so that it will accurately reflect what was said at Columbia
Of interest to Narco
News is how the translation specifically botches references
to Mr. Giordano's travels in Chiapas and other parts of Mexico.
Legal experts consulted
by Narco News point out that the poor translation could
be used against Mr. Giordano in migratory matters when he travels
in that country: a nation where more than 400 foreign journalists
and human rights observers have been deported or expelled in
recent years, especially for travelling in the war-torn State
Indeed, legal experts
say that had the secret effort to arrest and imprison not only
Menéndez but the other Por Esto! journalists (editor
of the Quintana Roo edition Renan Castro, assistant editor Lizandro
Alcocer and director of photography Gonzalo Subirats; an effort
that would have decapitated the day-to-day leadership of the
entire newspaper!), that if that dark effort had succeeded, it
may only have been a question of time before the prosecution
turned to migratory authorities for further action against others.
Narco News, unintimidated by authorities
of the United States or of any land, with a belief that Freedom
of the Press knows no borders, will continue with its investigations.
To any nation of the world
that finds the investigations of Narco News inconvenient,
we know of only one method to avoid our journalistic mission:
Deport the US-imposed drug prohibition and its operatives and
agents back to the United States, and Narco News will
(Again, it bears repeating:
the US Ambassador in any country where any attack upon Narco
News or its journalists occurs will be held responsible and
culpable; that is how the system works -- harm only comes to
US journalists in Latin American nations when the US Embassy
consents to it. Just ask the late Charles Horman.)
The PGR's motion before
the judge concluded:
"The Public Minister
of the Federation, executes penal action and reparation of damages
against MARIO RENATO MENÉNDEZ RODRÍGUEZ (Editor),
RENAN GABRIEL CASTRO MADERA (Reporter), LIZANDRO ARMÍN
CORONADO ALCOCER (Reporter) and GONZALO SUBIRATS GARCÍA
(Photographer), all of the newspaper named (POR ESTO)..."
The PGR motion also called
for "Orders of Apprehension" (Arrest Warrants) against
the four journalists.
The PGR motion was filed
on August 24th, five days after another report in Por Esto!
that documented how Roberto Hernández Ramírez,
the president and principal stockholder of BANAMEX-ACCIVAL and
host to US presidents and ambassadors, had robbed important Mayan
ruins from his "properties" in the Sian Ka'an nature
Five days after the PGR
motion was filed, gunmen
attacked the offices
of Por Esto! and the same PGR was responsible for allowing
their release back onto the streets.
But Por Esto! --
although there had been rumors for days -- did not discover
the secret legal documents until September 6th -- almost two
weeks after the PGR motions for arrest warrants were filed. And
even at that moment, in the process that the PGR chose, the documents
were not public record.
It was the courageous
actions of members of Quintana Roo society who risked their own
safety to bring those documents to the journalists at whom they
That was the day that
Narco News arrived on the scene in Mérida, Yucatán
and began chasing the facts on US involvement in this persecution
of Press Freedom.
In the next segment of
this series, the story of the historic events -- unprecedented
in Mexican journalism law history -- that turned the tables on
the prosecution and restored the right of Freedom of the Press
not only for Por Esto! but for all journalists.
One for all, all