("Quid coniuratio est?")
OUR NAFTA NEIGHBOR
"Ah. Mexico Lindo."
"It don't look so 'lindo' to me. It just looks like more Texas."
These lines are from the great western movie, The Wild Bunch. Fleeing bank robbers William Holden, Warren Oates and others escape the United States and seek refuge in circa 1915 Mexico. They enter a Mexico in the middle of revolution and become caught up in events.
The early 20th century Mexican Revolution is the stuff of legend. It is perceived as having been a peasant uprising, but that is misleading. There were actually two Mexican Revolutions in the mid-to-late 1910s: one was led by an emerging middle class; the other was a peasant revolution led by such as Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. The former sought a strong central government. The latter wanted land rights, reform, and local government. After years of fighting, the middle class faction won. One of their first priorities was to crush Villa's and Zapata's peasant movements.
Yet subsequent Mexican governments promoted an erroneous history, purporting that Zapata and Villa had been part of the victorious middle class faction, not that that faction had viciously destroyed them -- so much the better to rule when all those you rule believe they belong.
Another almost immediate effect of the revolution was that the new Mexican government increasingly became the main source of business for private companies. Loyal supporters of the ruling party were rewarded with fat government contracts.
Another major upheaval came in the late 1960s. Hundreds of thousands of Mexican students and workers began agitating against the Mexican government. They marched, gave speeches, and published small newspapers, demanding reform and economic justice. Alarmed, the government at last unleashed the military; thousands were murdered, imprisoned, and tortured in what is known as Mexico City's Tlatelolco Square Massacre.
After the massacre, those elements of the movement not dead or in prison were driven underground. They formed small political "cells" and continued to nurture their 1960s rhetoric and ideals. Out of the government repression, the National Liberation Forces (NLF) was born. It grew and was one of several Mexican guerrilla groups having a pro-Cuban, Marxist ideology. For funding, the NLF began to rob banks, starting in the 1970s. It also developed peasant support groups in Chiapas, the southernmost Mexican state.
By 1980, the organization of the NLF had become four-tiered: a national directorate, a politburo, an urban front, and a rural front; the Zapatista National Liberation Front (EZLN). The NLF strategy had evolved by this time into a Maoist strategy of "prolonged popular war."
In the early 1980s, several Marxist philosophy and sociology students from Mexico City's Autonomous Metropolitan University moved to Chiapas to help organize NLF's rural guerrilla front. Helping them was Msgr. Samuel Ruiz, "the Red Bishop," who organized 4,000 lay workers to preach "liberation theology" to the Chiapas Indians. (Question: Is this why Lyndon LaRouche, shill for the right-wing Opus Dei faction of the Catholic Church, has so vehemently denounced the Zapatista rebellion? Remember from the last issue, "The Smiling Pope," how leftist and rightist factions within the Catholic Church can be quite antagonistic.)
Besides having lay workers preaching to the peasant groups, the waters were further muddied: NLF's people begin to infiltrate Roman Catholic peasant groups.
In 1988, Harvard trained Carlos Salinas de Gotari became President of Mexico. During his term of office (1988-1994) the big push for the so-called North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) gathered steam. In the United States, the Salinas government spent $11 million per year on what is politely called "public relations" -- propaganda -- designed to persuade Americans that Mexico would make an excellent NAFTA partner. But, among other things, Yale trained Billy Clinton's and Harvard trained Carlos Salinas' NAFTA wound up sending a flood of cheap corn and wheat into Mexico. This hurt Mexican farmers badly. They, in turn, could no longer afford to hire the Chiapas Indians as field hands.
Carlos Salinas was so often referred to as "the Harvard trained Salinas" that he became nicknamed "Harvard Trained Salinas." The Mexican state of Chiapas is so impoverished that it is nicknamed "Mexico's basement" -- in other words it is kept hidden how backward it is. The majority of its people are poor, Indian peasants. The women must walk for hours every day, just so their families can have water and firewood. Their shacks are lucky to have a tin roof.
So what did Harvard Trained and his government do? Help them get electricity and running water? No, Harvard Trained and upper crust chums decided to get them 3700 basketball courts! The Chiapas Indians, thanks to Harvard Trained, then put together 12,000 basketball teams. They still don't have shoes and their average height is about 5 feet 3 inches tall -- but hey: at least after a hard day of toting firewood they can relax and shoot some hoops!
Harvard Trained also caused an $11 million, world class opera house to be built in Chiapas. While it was being built, right next door to it, two homeless Indian children died of exposure. It seems the nights grow cold in Chiapas.
On February 23rd, 1993, a private dinner party was held at the sumptuous home of former Mexican finance minister Don Antonio Ortiz Mena. The party was attended by President Salinas and several Mexican billionaires. The meeting was supposed to have been top secret, but news of its having occurred leaked out. Reportedly, each of the attendees agreed to give $25 million to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The "revolutionary" PRI is in fact what amounts to as the political party in Mexico. It is the political party that was born out of the early 20th century Mexican Revolution, way back in the late 1910s. PRI is akin to the Democratic Party in Chicago in the sense that, sure there are other political parties, but everyone knows that really only that one party has the power.
So just why would it be that several Mexican billionaires would secretly give $25 million apiece to the PRI? Had they suddenly become extremely "patriotic" yet, being humble about it, did not wish to fanfare what noble fellows they are?
On May 22nd, 1993, the Mexican army entered the now-abandoned Zapatista camp near San Miguel, in the Mexican state of Chiapas. It was seen that this "spontaneous," "populist," Chiapas insurgent army is suprisingly well-funded: the Zapatista camp was huge, and included a volleyball court; it was equipped with electricity, televisions, and kitchens.
By 1994 it was becoming clearer that the Zapatista rebel army is not autonomous. It is actually being run by white, middle-class intellectuals in Mexico City. The "Sub-commander Marcos" is not native to Chiapas; he is white-skinned, well-educated, and from Mexico City. While this editor is not always in agreement with Pat Robertson, one of his writings from the book, The New World Order, comes to mind:
All the extreme political ideologies in the world -- whether they come from the extreme right or the extreme left -- have come from the privileged classes. Those who want to determine how the poor should live have never endured or even seen real poverty. Socialism in Britain was a creature of the aristocracy. Communism was the brainchild of German-Jewish intellectuals...
In Mexico City, like a spider ruling its web, sits Commander in Chief "German." Somehow the impoverished Indians of Chiapas are quite well-armed, with AK-47 rifles, Uzi submachine guns, grenade launchers, and night vision devices. Yet the world press, suckers for a story that they can sell to a nostalgic Woodstock generation, has promoted romantic nonsense; they have portrayed the Chiapas rebellion as a populist uprising.
1994 saw the imminent expiration of Harvard trained Salinas' term of office. On March 23rd, 1994, PRI's presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was assassinated in Tijuana. The confessed assassin of Colosio, Mario Aburto Martinez, was at first perceived as a "lone nut." But this view quickly changed as the government-appointed special prosecutor went on record stating that there had been what he calls a "concerted action" (what I would call, in other words, "a conspiracy") behind Colosio's murder. Speculation grew that the killing had been done at the behest of powerful persons in Mexico. The growing apprehension threatened to crash the Mexican stock market, the Bolsa, and precipitate flight of capital from Mexico.
Meanwhile, subsequent to the death of PRI nominee Colosio, Ernesto Zedillo was unveiled as the Mexican Establishment's new candidate for the post of el presidente. Government workers were bused to PRI headquarters in downtown Mexico City to serve as cheering background for the new candidate. On television they could be seen -- to the naive they appeared as spontaneous, enthusiastic supporters of Zedillo. But for these stage-managed supporters, all that really counted was that they got to stay on the gravy train. This situation occurs also in the United States where a background of "enthusiastic supporters" is largely fake, with the real enthusiasm being for fat government contracts, high-level government jobs and potential political backing in later campaigns. (Also in attendance as enthusiastic background for stooge candidates are naive persons who believe in this sh**.)
The new candidate, Zedillo, is said to be the puppet of PRI hard-liners, who favor toughness, intolerance, and repression toward dissent.
In this time frame, Mexico's ruling class had been experiencing increasing internal tensions -- a.k.a. a "clash of titans," a.k.a. faction fights. The government was undergoing a process of what is code-named "privatization," thought by some to really mean the selling off of publicly-owned assets to private corporations for benefit of greedy stockholders. This "privatization" process is resulting in a shrinking of the government's economic pie; a sort of "downsizing" within the Mexican government is leading to bitter infighting amongst the political rats.
By the summer of 1994, the "enthusiastic" push for candidate Zedillo was in high gear. The PRI secretly paid millions of dollars to Mexican newspapers in return for their publishing campaign propaganda disguised as news. About 10 percent of these monies went to reporters themselves, to keep them quiet about what they knew. Televisa, the Mexican television monopoly -- really an octopus that smothers all other news -- gave the vast majority of its air time to the Zedillo campaign. The opposition Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) candidate, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, got only miniscule coverage by Televisa. To confuse voters, the Establishment's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) even created small, fake opposition parties which were secretly funded by PRI.
The Mexican common people struggle for whatever influence they can wield over how their lives are being affected. The "El Barzon" movement, one million strong, fights the banksters. Crushed under usurious debt, they demand renegotiation of past loans. Activist groups launch an "adopt a public official" campaign: the "adopted" official comes under close scrutiny by the adopter; he is put "under the microscope" and, if he is corrupt, pressure is brought to bear.
Thanks to looming NAFTA, the Mexican-U.S. border is more wide open than ever to "free trade." That border is becoming the number 1 drug smuggling route for illicit narcotics. 75 percent of cocaine entering the U.S. comes in via Mexico. Yearly profits of about $20 billion further corrupt politics via bribery and terror. The drug money is laundered through Mexican banks and through investments in resorts and shopping centers. The city of Guadalajara has become the "Wall Street" for Mexican money laundering. Is that why Cardinal Posadas Ocampo of that city was assassinated? Supposedly it was a case of "mistaken identity" -- but was it rather that Posadas Ocampo had become a thorn in the side of Dope, Incorporated?
Then, on September 28th, 1994, in downtown Mexico City, Jose Francisco "Pepe" Ruiz Massieu, PRI general secretary, was gunned down. Could this tragedy have happened because his brother, Mario Ruiz Massieu, was a senior government prosecutor who had publicly sworn to defeat Mexico's massive Gulf drug cartel? To stave off such suspicions, hours after the slaying of Jose Francisco brother Mario was made chief investigator into the case. Daniel Aguilar, gunman in the assassination of "Pepe" Ruiz Massieu, had fortuitously been captured at the site of the killing. His full confession led ultimately to PRI congressman Manuel Munoz Rocha. But Congressman Munoz Rocha then disappeared!
The initial public excitement and outrage regarding the assassination of "Pepe" Ruiz Massieu died down with time. With the heat off, the investigation by Mario Ruiz Massieu into his brothers death began to bog down. On November 15, 1994, Mario Ruiz Massieu charged that the PRI was blocking his investigation. Later that month, he resigned as special investigator into his brother's murder. In early December, Mario Ruiz Massieu fled Mexico. He was arrested in Newark, New Jersey, carrying $7 million. Mexico has demanded he be extradited; they charge that Mario had covered up involvement of Raul Salinas -- Carlos Salinas' brother -- as mastermind behind the killing of "Pepe" Ruiz Massieu.
By late December of 1994, both the Colosio and Ruiz Massieu assassinations had made foreign investors nervous; their Mexican deposits began a stampede for the exits. A Zapatista uprising in Chiapas lessened investor confidence still further. There was a financial crisis. It was decided to "float" the Mexican peso -- allow the market to fix its price. In the next few months, American investors lost more than 30 percent of their money. The Mexican financial troubles threatened a worldwide chain reaction that could have crashed stock markets throughout the world.
In early 1995 U.S. President Bill Clinton used his executive powers to release $20 billion from the U.S. Treasury Exchange Stabilization Fund -- money originally meant to stabilize the U.S. dollar -- to help save Mexico from bankruptcy. The New York investment bank Goldman-Sachs reportedly had huge investments down in the land of our NAFTA neighbor. The just-appointed U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin had until quite recently been head of Goldman-Sachs. Hmmm.... Is there a conflict of interest here?
Also in early 1995 the so-called "Chase Bank memo" surfaced in the Washington Post. This Chase Manhattan Bank memo urged the Mexican government to get moving and crush the Zapatista resistance. Furthermore, Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo is aware that the Chase Bank memo represents the secret views of most banksters.
In early March of 1995, Raul Salinas was arrested, charged with being the mastermind behind the murder of "Pepe" Ruiz Massieu. Now ex-President Carlos Salinas, saying he is convinced Raul is innocent, began a hunger strike. But, after a day or two to think it over, he went back to eating.
By November 24th, 1995, those with access to Associated Press were reading about Raul Salinas being on trial for murder. The plot thickens: the murdered "Pepe" Ruiz Massieu was Raul Salinas' brother-in-law. Around this time also, Paulina Castanon, sister-in-law of Harvard-trained ex-President Carlos Salinas, got arrested; she allegedly used false documents to try to withdraw nearly $84 million from a Swiss bank account. (Associated Press, 11/24/95)
At about this time too, Reuters reported that Swiss authorities had blocked several bank accounts in a probe "into a drugs and money-laundering scheme alleged to be linked to the brother of Mexican ex-President Carlos Salinas." But, said Carlos Salinas, compadre of dashing Bill Clinton, U.S. President, "I know nothing." Yet, strangely, Carlos Salinas himself next seems to vanish! Where is Carlos Salinas? (Reuters, 11/30/95)
Carlos Salinas, circa November 30, 1995, was formally "accused of treason and fraud in connection with the 1990 sell-off of state phone company Telmex." (Reuters, 11/30/95) (You see, they were privatizing the state phone company.)
But hold the phone! Reuters reported on December 1, 1995 that another $20 million had been found stashed away for Raul Salinas, this time in a London account. And where is Carlos Salinas, the ex-President? He has fled Mexico and is said to be laying low in Cuba.
December 2, 1995: Probes were launched by both Canada and Mexico into possible financial wrongdoing by Carlos Salinas. And, according to El Financiero newspaper, "Mexican police have found some $300 million in bank accounts belonging to the ex-president's brother in Switzerland, Germany, England, Luxembourg, and the Cayman Islands." (See also Reuters, 12/02/95)
Reuters ("Mexico Bails Out Top Bank In Growing Crisis," 12/15/95) next reported "a de-facto renationalization of the bank system that was privatized during the previous government of Carlos Salinas." It seems that drug traffickers and others had been buying up -- "privatizing" -- the banks, and now the Mexican government was forced to bail out these same banks to keep them from collapsing. And, noted New Federalist ("Four Nations Investigating Salinas Money, Dope Ties," 12/11/95), "According to an expose in the New York Times last July, former Bush administration officials charged that they had been ordered by other senior Bush officials to hush up reports of drug activity under the Salinas team -- such as how drug-traffickers were buying up Mexican state companies that were being privatized."
Did Raul Salinas consult with witches regarding the Colosio slaying? Reuters ("Mexico Police Probe Witches In Colosio Case," 12/16/95) reported that investigators had travelled to the Canary Islands to interview two "witches" who might have information. But why would Raul Salinas consult them on the Colosio slaying when he is supposedly only involved in the death of "Pepe" Ruiz Massieu? Or is there a link between the two deaths?
Meanwhile, Mario Ruiz Massieu, as of December 15, 1995, was still fighting extradition back to Mexico. He had been held without bail since his March 3rd arrest at Newark International Airport.
Am I wrong, or would this have made for some interesting reports from mainstream "news" outlets? Yet this whole story has been scarcely if at all covered here in the U.S. Thus, I have had to "dig for buried treasure" just to get a glimpse of what has been going on with our new NAFTA friend.
So details I have are still sketchy regarding our "top secret" trading partner and just what is going on down there. Recently, news surfaced regarding Citibank and Carlos Salinas being involved in "a multimillion-dollar international drug-money-laundering scheme." You may have seen a watered-down version of this story recently on the CBS program "60 Minutes." Apparently, when sister-in-law of Carlos Salinas, Paulina Castanon, had tried withdrawing the $84 million from the Swiss bank (see above), it opened up a real can of worms. Castanon, wife of the imprisoned Raul Salinas, was nabbed at a high-class bank, Pictet & Cie, in Geneva. The account at Pictet was set up for Raul Salinas, under a phony name, by Amelia Grovas Elliot of Citibank. She has been, since 1981, in charge of the Mexico branch of Citibank's Private Bank, a bank within Citibank handling an ultra-exclusive clientele. Citibank itself went bankrupt in 1992 and was secretly placed into receivership by the New York Federal Reserve. This means that the New York Fed has since 1992, supposedly, been "micro-managing" any Citibank transactions of $1 million or more. So it becomes increasingly clear that Raul Salinas was washing a lot of money -- be it from illicit drug dealings, bribes, or whatever -- with the help of Citibank and under the watchful eyes of the Federal Reserve! (See: "Fed, Citibank, Salinas In Dope-$-Laundering," New Federalist, 06/17/96; Wall Street Journal, 06/07/96.)
Prognosis is difficult since only smatterings of information arrive from Mexico. Recently, it has been reported by New Federalist that a mob of starving Mexicans went so far as to hijack a freight train loaded with grain going through their district. I am attempting to get hold of Mexican newspapers which may give more clues. Will our next war be with our current NAFTA partner? Divorces can get messy. Stay tuned.
(Main source for the preceding has been Bordering on Chaos by Andres Oppenheimer. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1996.)
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