By BEATRIZ FREGOSO
Hernández Ramírez, president
of Banamex, seeks to "bury" the accusations that have
been published in various media about him for drug trafficking
and money laundering in legal paperwork and "drown them,"
through an expensive trial in New York, says Al Giordano, editor
of The Narco News Bulletin and one of the journalists sued by
the banker in the New York Supreme Court.
More than trying to "restore"
the deteriorated image of the bank, as he claims in his lawsuit,
what the Banamex owner wants "is to silence us and discredit
us in order to discredit the published accusations, since he
already doesn't have the elements to refute the facts upon which
the reports that accused him were based," said that journalist.
Tireless investigator, passionate opponent
of the war on drugs, enthusiastic promoter of social causes,
Giordano declined to speak of the strategies that he will use
in his defense, but he declares himself openly optimistic of
the results that this trial will bring.
He warns that the case is going to be
politicized, "because we have all the elements for that:
international narco-trafficking, money-laundering, government
persecution against journalists and photographs of cocaine containers
in the pristine coastal lands of Quintana Roo that belong to
"The Banamex owner wanted to silence
us," he said, "and what he is going to succeed at doing
is to place the narco-system and its bastard child, the war on
drugs, in the seat of the accused."
"Roberto Hernández has already
lost in advance because he has failed to silence us," he
Soon, the parties will begin shooting,
and to start it all off, Giordano notified Banamex defender Tom
McLish by email of the adjournment of the pre-trial conference,
ordered by a judge, from January 25th to March 8th.
In a missive infused with irony, in which
he represented himself as his own attorney, the journalist accepted
service of the bank's lawsuit against him and asked the accusing
side for 90 days to respond.
"Roberto Hernández's gamble
was to sue us in order to cost us money that we clearly don't
have," said the former political reporter of the Boston
Phoenix newspaper, a media that he left to dedicate himself to
report on the absurdities and abuses of the war on drugs in Latin
"If Roberto Hernández's desire
was to silence us he has failed because neither don Mario nor
I are the type of people to give up in the face of harassment.
To the contrary, here we go into the fight," he advised.
He stressed that the banker knows that
neither of the journalists has the money needed to mount a defense
to this lawsuit. "He knows it, because he has used companies
like DSFX, an espionage firm, to investigate us."
And he added: "He knows perfectly
well that I don't earn enough money to live in New York. He knows
that Mario Renato Menéndez and Por Esto! sell ads for
pesos and he wants to obligate them to pay for a legal defense
"This lawsuit is about harassment
and intimidation. The fact that to defend oneself from any lawsuit
in New York costs hundreds of thousands of dollars," he
said, adding that the cost of court documents alone is going
to cost him around $100,000.
To be able to mount an adequate defense,
he explained, "we need the transcripts of all the depositions
and they cost about $500 dollars apiece, and if they have to
be translated from Spanish, the price doubles. To this must be
added the legal fees, the trips to New York, etcetera."
And why hasn't Banamex sued media like
El Universal, AP, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Phoenix
or the Village Voice that published the same facts? "Because
they know they have a weak case and anyone with a minimum capacity
to pay for a legal defense can prove it."
Also, he recalls a series of facts that
demonstrate the kind of web that the Banamex owner is weaving
to silence the two journalists: "The lawsuit in New York
was filed on August 9th and some days later, on August 24th,
the Mexican Attorney General brought charges against Mario Renato
Menéndez. Their plan was to obtain a secret arrest warrant,
to arrest the Por Esto! editor in Cancún on September
8th and the next day announce the lawsuit in the Big Apple."
"I think it was a huge surprise for
Roberto Hernández's lawyers that an attorney like Martin
Garbus, who has defended Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel, Henry
Miller and many others, appeared in the defense of our case."
He outlines that Garbus has defended twenty
cases before the US Supreme Court, "and has not lost a single
Another attorney that may join the defense
is Tom Lesser, friend of Al Giordano, who has so far given legal
advice, and is known for his talent at politicizing cases like
But the most appetizing bite in this entire
buffet of expensive plates is the possibility of putting the
war on drugs in the seat of the accused.
Al Giordano explains: "In the United
States, to win a lawsuit for libel, they need to prove malice
on the part of the accused. As I see things going, I think that
don Mario and I might spend days and days in the witness chair
to explain all that we knew about this theme. In this sense,
a lot of information that is unknown or ignored about drug trafficking
and its complicities is going to come to light in New York."
Are you disposed to come to a legal agreement
with Banamex outside the court if Roberto Hernández solicits
that at some point?
"No deals: I don't make deals with
this kind of people. I have to preserve my integrity."
But not all is honey over pancakes. Al
Giordano recognizes that since this matter of the lawsuit began
he has spent hours and hours preparing his defense and has been
obligated to leave things that before seemed fundamental on the
side. But not even that seems to deter his steel will to mount
his defense with all the moral authority that he has earned through
an impeccable journalistic career.