May 22, 2001
The Information Blockade
The Mexican Press
Narco News 2001
of Mexican Journalists Weighs In...
Fox and the webs of neo-power
Weaknesses of Hernández
By Carlos Ramírez
having lost various court cases against
the Yucatan newspaper Por Esto and against its editor
Mario Menendez Rodriguez, the banker Roberto Hernandez filed
suit in a New York court for opinions against him during a conference
at Columbia University. The reason: Hernandez had an urgent need,
before selling his bank, to separate himself from the doubts
caused by the daily and by the Internet site www.narconews.com
about evidence of drugs found on his properties in Yucatan.
Citibank has the same problem: There are
signs that the bank was used, by some of its top executives,
for millionaire operations of money laundering that stemmed from
corruption and even drug trafficking. The offices of Citibank
in Mexico served Raul Salinas de Gortari in moving millions of
dollars outside the country. And there are indications that the
powerful narco-trafficker Amado Carrillo Fuentes - "The
Lord of the Skies" - used Citibank to make money that came
from the sale of illicit drugs legitimate.
The relation of Banamex with Citibank
is not gratuitous. Citibank was the bank that ended up leading,
in the 1980s, the severe foreign debt crisis. In spite of the
Mexican threats to declare a moratorium, Citibank moved in the
quicksand of Mexican politics and succeeded at making deals with
the governments of De la Madrid and Salinas. Citibank formed
a club of creditors to negotiate, as a bloc, with debtor nations,
but always opposed the formation of a debtor's club. After fixing
the economy with government money, used without permission of
Congress, Zedillo sold Confia Bank to Citibank. And John Reed,
president of Citicorp, has received the "Aztec Eagle"
Medal for his role supporting Mexico on the issue of the debt.
political history of Banamex also has
its dark zones. Roberto Hernandez was a modest runner of stocks
when he began to manage the black fortunes of Mexican politicians
in the Stock Market and from there became a rich investor. In
the government of Carlos Salinas, Hernandez wanted to bid for
ownership of Telephones of Mexico, but the presidential decision
already favored Carlos Slim, another beneficiary of power relations
with Salinism. Pedro Aspe, treasury secretary, advised Hernandez
to bid on Banamez and - oh, what a surprise! - he won it.
Born in Salinism, Hernandez was strengthened
by Zedillism. Banamex was one of the banks rescued by FOBAPROA,
in resulting from unregistered debts that have hung a millstone
around the neck of public finance. At the same time, according
to what the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) revealed in the
House of Representatives, there was, in the year 2000, a "fiscal
pardon" for Banamex amounting to 12 billion pesos, obviously
charged to the public budget.
dark relations of Hernandez and Banamex
have begun to be known. On Monday, January 15th, Indicador
Politico published information, from the tax collector's
office in Mexico City, that showed that the owner of the house
on Agua Street where President Ernesto Zedillo and his family
lived in the Pedregal neighborhood was in the name of Banamex.
The Title Number is 354-738-35-000-2.
Hernandez turned from being a political
player of Carlos Salinas to the campaign of Zedillo. And although
Salinas was persecuted by Zedillo, Hernandez stayed very much
in the past presidential term. On the eve of the elections of
August 1994, Hernandez made a statement against (presidential
candidate Cuauhtemoc) Cardenas and Diego Fernandez de Cevallos,
and in favor of Zedillo: if the PRI loses, he said, there will
be an exodus of capital, inflation, high interest rates, unemployment
and a grave devaluation of the peso. The worst about Hernandez
as banker and businessman is that his curses came true, not with
the opposition, but with Zedillo and the PRI in the presidency
of the Republic.
According to confirmed reports, Hernandez
gave nearly three million dollars to the PRI political campaign
of Zedillo, beyond his national and international lobbying in
favor of the official candidate. Cardenas had threatened to review
the files on the bank privatization by Salinas, in which that
of Banamex was filled with dark regions.
But Hernandez became one of the principal
bankers supporting the candidacy of Fox. And not only that: in
his campaign, Fox used part of the infrastructure of Hernandez
and Banamex. For example, the vacation house in Cancun and the
offices on Paseo de la Reforma in the las Lomas neighborhood
of Mexico City. And although he has his own career in the treasury
department, the designation of Francisco Gil Diaz as treasury
secretary didn't escape the webs of political power of two important
businessmen: Gil was president of Avantel, the telephone company
of Hernandez, and he came recommended by Aspe Armella, then linked
to Alfonso Romo, another of the key businessmen in the power
relations of Fox.
The sale of Banamex to Citicorp is made
precisely in the middle of the process of the lawsuit in New
York by the Mexican bank against two journalistic publications
about the narco. The origin was the publication in the daily
Por Esto of evidence that in the properties of Hernandez
in the Peninsula, packages of drugs were found. The banker filed
two legal complaints against Menendez and the daily Por Esto.
And he lost them. The third is based on a conference given by
Menendez and Al Giordano, United States journalist and editor
on the Internet for having insisted during a conference at Columbia
University on speaking about the theme of drugs on the property
of the banker.
interesting thing was that the photographs
and proofs offered by Por Esto about the drugs in the
property of Hernandez concretely referred to the beaches in Quintana
Roo of Punta Pajaros, frequented by Zedillo when he was president
of the Republic and where Vicente Fox came to rest on July 8,
2000 after having won the presidency. Punta Pajaros is found
in a zone known as "The Drug Peninsula."
The battle by Menendez and Giordano went
all the way to the offices of The New York Times. Giordano
denounced, on his Internet site, that Sam Dillon, correspondent
for the New York daily, had been informed of the proofs of the
drugs on the properties of Hernandez but did not publish the
information. And the justifications were there: During his visit
to the Yucatan, president Clinton was received on the properties
of the banker Hernandez.
matter jumped to the pages of The Village Voice, a prestigious progressive weekly in New York,
where the analyst Cynthia Cotts broke the story in December 2000
that was heating up in the Court of the State of New York. In
February of last year, Cotts published, in her column, that is
very prestigious among those members of the media who ascribe
to ethical behavior, a severe accusation: "In Mexico, untouchables
are people protected by the power they wield. Two of these individuals
are Sam Dillon and Roberto Hernandez."
Now, the matter has been brought to the
level of lawyers, but the journalists and the banker Roberto
Hernandez will be seated on the witness stand. However, the
journalists have an advantage: Por Esto already won
twice over the same accusation and has photos of the drugs found
on the beaches of Hernandez. And the lawsuit against an Internet
site doesn't know where to find jurisdiction. That's why Hernandez
focused his attacks against the opinions of Menendez and Giordano
in a North American university.
The litigation against Por Esto
could clarify many things and even involve itself in the case
of Governor Mario Villanueva, accused by Zedillo of being a narco
and who escaped hours before the end of his term. The origin
of Villanueva's conflict was not the narco, but his disputes
with Hernandez over real estate and tourist zones in Quintana
Roo. Hernandez has had all total protection from Zedillo.
Thus, two important banks stained by evidences
of being dedicated to dirty work have decided to merge. But their
histories remain in the memory of journalism.
The Memory of