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Jefe Diego: Chronicle of a death foretold?

16 May 2010

With the big, big, big news being Diego Fernández de Cevallos’  kidnapping Friday night, I’ll make an exception to my “never on Sunday” rule while reports of his demise are still rumors… thus not speaking ill of the dead.

Jefe Diego, as he’s known, is not particularly well-liked even in his own party.  Rather, he commanded (or commands) respect mixed with fear as as a power-broker and strategist:  a sort of Mexican love child of Richard Nixon and Karl Rove.  Every foreign report mentions that he was PAN’s 1994 presidential candidte and tries to re-brand him as a great democratic figure for his role in the Fox campaign’s victory over the PRI in 2000.  What’s overlooked is that when there was clear evidence of an opposition victory in 1988, until a “mysterious” computer fire stopped the ballot counting, Jefe Diego was the key figure in throwing PAN support to the government, burning the ballots and giving the presidency to Carlos Salinas.

The Salinas presidency was very good to Fernández de Cevallos who — as a lawyer for the private business interests that prospered from hasty denationalization, and as the defense attorney for individuals whose egregious behavior was too much even for the Salinas administration to swallow — made himself extremely rich.  As a legislator, he at least had the virtue of not being a hypocrite… openly admitting to supporting legislation in his personal interest or those of his clients.  As a lawyer, his reputation as “the Devil’s Advocate” doesn’t refer to his intellectual prowess, but to his client list:  the bankers who looted bailout money in the 90s, media monopolies and drug lords.

Rumors that he was dead led to lots of “good, let’s start the party” comments in the various newspapers, mostly from the usual lefty sorts.  But more interesting was a “tweet from a twit” —  PAN’s former party chair and “piety wing” leader Manuel Espino — claimed Jefe Diego’s corpse had turned up at a military base in Queretaro.  Espino later was sending abject “I was mislead” tweets, but the idea that Jefe Diego COULD have been taken by the military — was plausible.

Fueling speculation, President Calderón is “conveniently” out of the country, and this past week also saw the shakedown of Chapo Guzmán’s ex-wife and rumored capture of former (or present) Chapo associate Ignacio Coronel.

I had to rely on a google translation, but it appears that Dutch reporter Jan-Albert Hootsen,  El Pinche Holandés, is the only one to pick up on this.  He writes (or, the Googelese version of what he writes):

… there is the phenomenon arraigo, without charge, trial or legal representation picking up “suspects” by the Mexican army.  Many hundreds of Mexicans by a legislative amendment may be arrested without mercy if they suspected of any ties to organized crime…

Throw into the mix the under-reported news that the United States is training and funding “cazacapos” (“capo” hunters) a military strike against Jefe Diego makes sense in a twisted way.

Then again, it could be that narco-gangs took Jefe Diego as a hostage for some other figure’s release; or that somebody just wants to make some money and it’s just a plain old “rich-guy snatching”; a former or present legal client is cleaning up loose ends; or that — given Fernández de Cevallos political activities — he was snatched to send a warning to the administration, to PAN, to a faction within PAN, to the political establishment in general:  or all of the above.

Or any combination of the above.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. humberto permalink
    16 May 2010 4:06 pm

    well, as you reported the ‘arrest” and then release of el ‘chapos’ ex-wife could be all reason a narc would need to send a ‘signal’…
    messing with relatives will sure bring consequences..

  2. 16 May 2010 8:12 pm

    richard, the mysterious, cloak and dagger-sounding cazacapos are simply 200 or so vetted, US-trained Mexican federal agents. They go to Quantico or elsewhere in the US for a few months to receive training in wire-tapping, intel gathering etc. nothing that exciting and certainly not a sinister bunch (i’ve met some, they’re basically just good cops), they’re no secret (although their names are not released for security concerns) DEA often mentions them when making announcements/praising the vetted mexican police officers who did great work to nail such and such capo.


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