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Column 030104 Thompson

Monday, March 1, 2004

 

Corruption inferences and the Green Party of Mexico

 

By Barnard R. Thompson

 

Mexico got a taste of frank political transparency late Monday, February 23, with the initial television broadcast of a video that showed Senator Jorge Emilio González Martínez, president of the Mexican Green Ecological Party (PVEM), negotiating a US$2 million bribe.  Since then the hidden camera film has been shown nationally and worldwide, plus the developing details continue to dominate the news in Mexico.

 

Jorge Emilio González Martínez [31], who is widely referred to as “the green kid,” is a classic Mexican junior who inherited the presidency of the González-family-run PVEM from his father, Jorge González Torres, in 2001.

 

Kid Green’s maternal grandfather was Emilio Martínez Manatou, a doctor and Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) loyalist who served in congress, held cabinet posts, was a presidential hopeful in 1970 and served as governor of Tamaulipas from 1981 to 1987.

 

González the elder, after exiting the PRI, founded the Ecological Party in 1986 — more for money than environmental commitment.  As well, with the 1980s growth of organized resistance to what many saw as tyrannical rule by the PRI, the latter began to allow the formation of a select few so-called opposition parties to serve as a loyal opposition.  This included the PVEM that added Green to its name in 1993 for political credibility and international acknowledgment.

 

When González Torres ended his reign in 2001, Kid Green was named party president and he thus ascended to near exclusive control of the PVEM and its patrimony.  And this means money — lots and lots of money.

 

The Mexican political system grants public funds to officially registered parties (the Ecological Party received its first conditional registry in 1991), and since 1997 the PVEM has received more than MP$1.3 billion [US$118 million at today’s exchange rates] from the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE).  This year it is scheduled to receive US$15.5 million in prerogatives, although it also faces a pending IFE fine of US$16.7 million for campaign spending violations in 2000.

 

A total of 128 senators are elected to six-year terms in Mexico, with 25 percent of those gaining office not by popular vote but via a percentage system that gives 32 seats to candidates on qualifying party lists.  One PVEM senator was elected by majority vote in 2000, plus four others were invested according to their positions on the PVEM’s “plurinominal” list.  González junior was at the top of that list.

 

It should also be noted that, effective this year, Mexican senate salaries have been increased by 35 percent.  In 2004 each senator is earning US$126,840.00, plus an annual holiday bonus of US$35,620.00.  As well, they receive US$37,085.00 for annual insurance protection, and more than US$1,800.00 monthly for expenses.

 

The February 23 broadcast video shows González junior with two supposed entrepreneurs (one a past PVEM official), who to date have been denied requisite permits for two tourism and land development schemes in the PVEM governed Quintana Roo municipality that includes Cancún.  During the discussion of the projects and what it would be worth to obtain federal, state and local permits, González asks “and how much money goes to us?”  When a developer holds up two fingers González asks — feasibly states — “two million dollars?”

 

“One immediately and one when the land is released,” confirms the entrepreneur.  “Good,” González shoots back.

 

Immediately after the broadcasts González called the video a fake, saying it was made in Hollywood, and he categorically denied any wrongdoing.  Next he admitted the December 2003 meeting had taken place, claiming it was part of a personal (but curiously never reported) sting to expose crooked developers.  Yet again changing his tune, he then blamed the Fox administration for orchestrating a smear campaign against him and the PVEM.

 

Baloney.

 

The video is but another of numerous past corruption and influence peddling complaints lodged against the González family and its PVEM, especially since junior took charge.  Members of the party report that González junior hides ownership of his expensive home behind a front man, and that inflated PVEM and household staff salaries are manipulated and used to pay the bills and buy playboy toys like sports cars.

 

There is evidence of González junior making lavish summer trips to St. Tropez, France, where he and friends rent yachts and party in luxury hotels.  There are also claims of related spending sprees and disco nights, with Kid Greenback picking up the tabs for as much as $5,000.00 in Euros or US dollars.

 

Once home everything is apparently laundered, with the cleaning bills paid by the Mexican people via the PVEM.

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Thompson (a www.mexidata.info columnist) has spent over 40 years in Mexico and Latin America, providing business, professional, lobbying and problem resolution services for multinational clients. He is a principal in MIRA Associates, based in San Diego, California.  Thompson can be reached at mexidata@ix.netcom.com.

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Jorge Emilio González Martínez