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The Havana Tapes… Lopez Obrador was right

19 August 2006

UPDATE: There are excellent summaries of this, and other developing political scandals in the August 19 and 20 posts at Mercury Rising.

Journalist Carmen Aristegui aired videos yesteday of interviews with contractor and financier Carlos Ahumada who fled to Havana in 2004 to avoid prosecution for charges related to his bribery of Mexico City officials and department heads (story in El Informador de Guadalajara here).

There was something dubious about the whole affair. At the time I wondered how a PAN Senator ended up with Las Vegas surveillence tapes which were shown on la Mañanara, Brozo the Clown’s morning TV talk show. (A federal lawsuit in Las Vegas disclosed that the FBI was acquiring casino surveillence tapes, allegedly to look for money-launderers. If true, the tapes would have been sent to the Mexican Attorney General’s office, which apparently gave them to the politican as part of what Lopez Obrador called a “complot”). Ahumada, an Argentine-born builder and investor, had numerous business and personal interests that tied to PAN leaders. Mexicans are prejudiced against Argentines, and I thought a lot of what was said about Ahumada reflected that prejudice, rather than facts. Still, his name, and his companies, are involved in every scandal involving Lopez Obrador’s city administration, and in the affairs of most of AMLO’s political opponents.

During his interview, Ahumada said it was “difficult to imagine that Vicente Fox was not intimately involved” in various schemes to derail Lopez Obrador’s political ambitions.

Today’s Jornada comments on the latest revelations (my translation):

Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador was right. His denunciation of a “plot” against him back in March 2004 was neither a paranoid fantasy, not a manouver to sidetrack public scrutiny of his adminstration. The machinations of the state and the involvement of the Presidency are certain. Carlos Ahumada, the keystone of the jerry-built intrige, confessed as much in Havana, Cuba in a video interview with journalist Carmen Aristegui.Nobody is making jokes about the construction magnate’s revelations now. They are substantial theads running through three separate episodes in recent national political life: the dissemination of recorded images of civil servants and Federal District Government (GDF) employees gambling in Las Vegas or receiving cash from Ahumada; the attempts to politically incapacite Lopez Obrador through a disafuero; and the now well-founded suspicions of fraud in the the recent elections.

All three events divided and polarized the country, irritated society and brought the nation to the abyss of madness. These three events demonstrate a fatuous misuse of state resources by a tiny nucleus of business interests to prevent the candidate from obtaining the Presidency of the Republic.

Carlos Ahumad’s confessions in Havana detail a sedititious plot in which at least then Interior Minister Santiago Creel, former Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha, Senator Diego Fernandez de Cevallos and ex-president Carlos Salinas de Gortari are all implicated. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the hand of Los Pinos behind the plot.

With nearly the speed of light, Santiago Creel picked up the smoke signals [an untranslatable pun based on Ahumada, Smoky). It appears that a bad memory is affects the entire Mexican political class when it comes to denying responsiblity. Fernanez de Cevellos, the incoming PAN Senate leader, when confronted by Puebla authorities with wiretapped conversations between him and then-fugitive pederast Kamil Nacif famously told a television interviewer “It is my voice but not me.” If, as Ahumad affirms, Fernandez de Cevellos was in on the plot, it’s bad enough. It is much worse if the Interior Minister ignored one of the greatest scandals in national political events despite having at his dispostion the country’s intellegence services.

The testimony disclosed yesterday is only one small part of the 40 hours of recordings with Carlos Ahumada now in Cuban hands. What is yet to be revealed. The video (available on Jornada’s Web page) show a smiling and open industralist. But he raises questions that have not been clarified, in spite of the time that has passed since his capture and deportation from Cuba. Why did he flee to Cuba, and who protected him during his escape?

The Havana confessions reinforce uncertainty about the lack of transparency, and raise questions about the fairness and — of the July 2 elections. Carlos Ahumada explicitly recognizes that the intention of his governmental protectors was to wreck Lopez Obrador’s presidential aspirations. If they were able to achieve their ends, what else would they do to conserve power. For those who were already dubious about the electorial results, the Argentine industrialist’s revelations only add to distrust and social discontent. For that reason, today, more than ever, it is made indispensable count vote by vote.

But beyond the final outcome of these revelations, there is a more immediate consequence for the nation. They reaffirm the national tragedy — the intellectial impoverishment and break-down of our political class, resulting in an unscrupulous use of government institutions in the administration of justice.

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