16 Years of Corruption Leaks Shake Mexican Politics

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16 Years of Corruption Leaks Shake Mexican Politics




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In August 2020 a new season of the “video scandals ”in politicsmexican, which involve members of all parties in irregular acts, including the President’s brother Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

The most recent recording is one in which the collaborators of two former legislators of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) are observed receiving bags of money, which would correspond to the bribes delivered during the Government of Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-2018), in the case frame Odebrecht.

The video caused a national political scandal, as it was related to the recent criminal complaint of the former director of Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Emilio Lozoya, who accused former President Peña Nieto and former Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray of coordinating the delivery of 120 million pesos (about 5.4 million dollars) for a deputy and five senators to approve the structural reforms promoted by the Government in 2013 and 2014.

When everyone was talking about the Lozoya case and the bribery and corruption networks within Pemex during the governments of Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) and Peña Nieto, a recording dating from 2015 was released, where the brother of the current president, Pío López Obrador, receiving cash to supposedly support Morena ahead of the 2018 presidential elections.

The delivery was made by David León, who at that time worked as a private consultant and communication advisor to the Government of Chiapas, where Pío was a party operator.

In response, López Obrador asked the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) to investigate the case, but clarified that this delivery of money was citizen contributions “to strengthen the movement,” in reference to the ruling Morena party, and assured that they were not cases corruption like that of Lozoya.

Both the Lozoya case, as well as the videos of the PAN legislative advisers and López Obrador’s brother revived an old way of exposing the bad practices of Mexican politics and, as happened in 2004, in the last episode it has tried to affect the popularity of the current president.

THE “VIDEOSCANDALS” OF 2004

In March 2004, Televisa host Víctor Trujillo – playing his comedy character known as “Brozo” – showed a video of René Bejarano, who was the political operator of the then Head of Government of the Mexican capital, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, receiving wads of bills from the Argentine businessman Carlos Ahumada.

Bejarano, at that time coordinator of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) in the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District, received 45,000 dollars from Ahumada.

Bejarano explained that this money was directed to political campaigns of the PRD, by orders of the president of the party, Rosario Robles. In exchange, officials from the López Obrador government allegedly agreed with Ahumada to deliver public works contracts.

Although the “Lord of the Leagues” scandal, as Bejarano was nicknamed, was the best known, there were other videos released in that year.

OTHER OFFICIALS

Carlos Ímaz, who was the Delegation Chief of Tlalpan, in Mexico City, from 2003 to 2004, was also exhibited in a video receiving 350 thousand pesos (about 15,954 dollars today) from Ahumada.

As Ímaz explained later, the money received from Ahumada went to Robles. The Argentine businessman and the PRD policy had a sentimental relationship in those years and presumably it was they who agreed on the plot of the “video scandals.”

At the time of the “video scandals”, another official of the López Obrador Administration was exhibited on the news of Televisa. It was the Secretary of Finance of the capital government, Gustavo Ponce, who was wasting money at the luxurious Bellagio casino in Las Vegas, Nevada (USA).

At that time, Ponce was being investigated for participating in an alleged fraud of 31 million pesos (1.4 million dollars as of today) in the Gustavo A. Madero delegation.

López Obrador ordered the removal of Ponce and demanded that he clarify the investigations against him. However, the former official fled justice and was detained by elements of the defunct Federal Investigation Agency (AFI) in October 2004. Ponce spent almost 10 years in prison and was released in March 2014.

López Obrador pointed out to former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari (1988-1994) and PAN Diego Fernández de Ceballos of being behind the recording and dissemination of the “video scandals”, presumably to damage their popularity in the face of the 2006 presidential elections, in those that the Tabasco politician was one of the strongest candidates.

SMOKED INTERROGATION

In August 2006, the video of Ahumada was released when he was questioned by authorities in Cuba, the country to which he fled after the scandals spread.

Ahumada acknowledged that he negotiated with Fernández de Ceballos and with the former Secretary of the Interior, Santiago Creel, the delivery of the “video scandals” in exchange for protection and receiving financial aid.

For Ahumada, the objective of Salinas de Gortari and Fernández de Ceballos when spreading the “video scandals” was “to remove Andrés Manuel (López Obrador) from the presidential race” in 2006.

In March 2014, Ahumada told local media that former PRI president Salinas de Gortari and PAN Fernández de Ceballos paid him 68 million pesos (3.1 million dollars) for the dissemination of the “video scandals,” which involved politicians close to López Obrador.

Ahumada would be extradited to Mexico, where he spent three years in prison. In August 2019, the businessman was arrested again, now in Argentina, at the request of the Mexican government, which accused him of fraud against the treasury for the amount of 1,472,236 pesos (about $ 67,169 at today’s exchange rate).

On August 11, an Argentine judge denied Ahumada’s extradition to Mexico. However, the businessman still has a criminal case open, although he is at liberty in the South American country.

For his part, Robles is serving a preventive detention measure at the Santa Martha Acatitla Women’s Center for Social Reintegration, accused of participating in a complex scheme of diversion of public resources for 5,073 million pesos (231.4 million dollars) during the Peña Nieto government .

The “video scandals” have returned to Mexican politics less than a year after the midterm elections are held, where the Chamber of Deputies, 15 governorships and more than 21,000 popularly elected positions will be renewed, including local congresses, town halls and municipal boards.

Gallery: The scandals in which Ricardo Anaya (Fifth Power) has been implicated

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