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“Three times is enemy action!”

27 April 2017

“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action!”  Or so said one of the great all-time super-villains, Aurich Goldfinger.  While by no means is Andres Manuel López Obrador a saint, nor does he head a party of saints (they, are, after all, politicians), despite what has been written and said about him over the last several years, about the only thing he has in common with super-villains is having to put up with unimaginative attempts to discredit him and his movement.  This latest bribery scandal just goes to show that the third time isn’t a charm, it’s just… well, obvious.

I don’t expect you to talk, Mr. Lopez Obrador. I expect you to die!

Back in 2004, during AMLO’s tenure as head of the Mexico City government, videos surfaced showing René Bejarano, AMLO’s former personal secretary — and at the time, a member of the Federal District administration — receiving bags of cash ($45,000 US).  Weirdly enough, the videos were broadcast on a clown show… although, in a bit of honest political theater you don’t find often anywhere, the clown was Victor Trujillo, aka “Brozo the scary clown”, our version of Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly, and his morning show a regular part of political discourse at the time.  And that particular morning, Bejarano was Brozo’s on-air guest.  The videos came from Frederico Dörring, a local conservative politician (PAN), and the bribes were traced back to Carlos Ahumada, a businessman and soccer team owner. Ahumada eventually fled to Cuba, but was extradited when Bejarano was fired, and sent to prison.  Ahumada, was also imprisoned, eventually fessing up that the who thing, was … as AMLO had been saying… a “plot”,  that traced back to Carlos Salinas, the “godfather” of the PRI.

Then, once again using Ahumada as the money source, Carlos Imaz, a founding member of the PRD (and husband of the Federal District’s Secretary for the Environment, and PRD stalwart, Claudia Sheinbaum) was “coincidentally” videotaped receiving $350,000 pesos.  This time, it turned out the money was earmarked not for AMLO, but for his more conservative rival for party leadership, Rosario Robles.  Although party founder, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas called upon both Imaz and Robles to resign from the party, Imaz hung tough, and it was Robles (who would go on to be part of the Peña Nieto cabinet as a PRI activist) who left.

As it is, AMLO and Imaz (along with Sheinbaum) eventually left the PRD… or the PRD left them… to form Morena, now the second or third largest party in the country, and seen by many as an alternative to the big money, dirty politics associated with people like Salinas’ PRI and Dörring‘s PAN.  And the increasing irrelevance of PRD, which drifted towards the center, and had a series of unrelated scandals of its won.

Ahumada, after his release from prison, of course wrote a book (or, was listed as the author of one) about his time as a video-auteur, but has, it seems, retired from that line of business.  Not so Carlos Salinas (at least according to AMLO).  Or, at least the PRI, for which AMLO and Morena has become an increasingly real threat, especially with fresh mega-scandals involving former PRI governors appearing weekly.  And, with PAN embroiled in both internal disputes and some juicy scandals involving money laundering (and only one of its former governors … so far… ending up in the slammer) and PRD’s leadership running around like headless chickens… the polling that shows AMLO as the probable winner of the presidency in 2018, as well as the surprising possibility of a Morena governor in the State of Mexico… it was time for a new, improved video-scandal to surface.

What better timing then when the PRI really needs to deflect attention from its own woes and when the Morena candidate has been hitting the PRI candidate in the State of Mexico than right now?  So, after weeks of announcing the coming attraction of “proof” that AMLO was just as corrupt as his opponents,  by Enrique Ochoa Reza (the PRI party chair!), we finally got to see the season III of the “sorta bribing of AMLO”… starring a former local PAN politician running as a Morena candidate for a municipal presidency in Veracruz State named Eva Cadena as the bribee, and …. a mystery woman to be revealed later… as the briber.  With much slicker production values (including scary theme music!).

AMLO, in response to the “coming attractions” speeches by Ochoa, had said he’d resign if there was proof he’d taken a bribe.  Alas, no one can show Cadena had any intention of passing the money on to AMLO, nor that he had any knowledge of the funds.  Cadena has withdrawn from her own race, and claims the video is doctored… and that she was duped by taking a cash donations which she later returned.   She also claims her acquaintance with AMLO is slight… that of a local politician appearing at a campaign event with the popular national leader.

Naturally, as soon as the “Enemy Action III” debuted, “shocked, shocked and appalled!” PRI politicans… joined by PAN… began calling for an investigation of Morena’s funding.  Which, to the surprise of the two main parties, was enthusiastically applauded by… MORENA.

Although not know as a film critic, AMLO saw the plot line as … well, one he’d seen before.  A plot… the only update in the series being a new surprise villain, Veracruz’ former governor, Javier Duarte, and his successor, Miguel Ángel Yunes.  That Duarte was legendary for his corruption and has become the star attraction in PRI stable of corrupt governors makes him all too predictable as the surprise baddy.  And, AMLO’s probably right. 

 

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