Monday, October 17, 2005
Mexican politicians hitting below the belt
By Enrique Andrade González
On the very day Institutional Revolutionary Party
(PRI) pre-candidates for the presidency of Mexico were first scheduled to sign a pact of civility, so as to avoid personal
attacks and thus keep the debate from damaging each other and the party, Televisa aired a program hosted by Víctor Trujillo
that included evidence of apparent financial wrongdoing by one of the three candidates, Arturo Montiel, and members of his
This was not the first time this program has
shown political scandal. Once before a National Action Party (PAN) deputy gave
Trujillo a videotape that showed a former personal assistant to Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the ex-mayor of Mexico City and
a member of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), suspiciously receiving a huge amount of cash and stuffing the bills
into his pockets and briefcase.
So, the program is a Televisa medium that has been
used in political assaults of the past.
The Attorney General of Mexico and those persons
charged with custody of evidentiary material are officially responsible for having allowed this confidential information to
leak. Information with accusations that have caused a person and a group to be
discredited, which means a crime of defamation of character has been committed against Arturo Montiel, and probably the PRI,
which is criminal in nature and merits action by the State.
Now, if a former deputy attorney general who is on
the team of PRI hopeful Roberto Madrazo is in possession of this information, and if it can be proven that he was behind the
leak, the Attorney General of Mexico has the obligation to initiate a criminal inquiry in order to determine responsibility
of not just the ex-official, but too of his ex-boss and those officials in the same posts after them.
In the short-term however, the leaked information
hurts both Montiel and Madrazo, as well as the PRI. And the longer-term beneficiaries
will be the PAN and the PRD. But could Elba Esther Gordillo, the longtime head
of Mexico’s national teachers’ union and a prominent member of the PRI who has been at war with Madrazo, be in
conspiratorial cahoots with the government of Vicente Fox to keep the PRI from returning to power in 2006?
Or was it by chance that the information came out
two days after the registration period for pre-candidates closed? This with Madrazo
having been held back in the furtherance of his pre-campaign due to the retaliation of Gordillo — and then Montiel is
suddenly sullied politically by information in the safekeeping of the federal government.
The dissemination of the information was opportune
for the federal government however, as it overshadowed continuing scandalous publicity involving Manuel Bribiesca Sahagún,
the eldest son of first lady Martha Sahagún de Fox. Bribiesca is under investigation
for questionable profits and unexplained wealth accrued since Fox took office in 2000, along with influence peddling. But the information on Bribiesca is also the result of leaks, in his case from Congress.
The federal government is suspect regarding the leaks,
for these are not the first times those involved have chosen to use the media to strike an adversary before resorting to the
time-consuming legal system. It did so with the Pemexgate scandal, it has done
so against ex-governors, and it would not be unthinkable for something to surface about López Obrador.
So far Mexico’s electoral process for 2006
is out of control, and the institutions involved appear to be part of the problem — while at the same time their very
existence is at risk, depending on the results of the elections next July 2. Be
that as it may, currently the rules, regulations and safeguards are not working, or worse yet they are not being allowed to
Enrique Andrade, a Mexico City-based attorney and business consultant, writes a weekly
column for MexiData.info. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.