Washington-backed Mexican presidential candidate Francisco Labastida - to whom was he sending signals? - then went to the Gulf state of Veracruz accompanied by Roberto Hernández Ramírez, president of BANAMEX, the National Bank of Mexico.
BANAMEX has been targetted by the US Federal Reserve Board utilizing its "Feds Death Penalty" law against drug money washing (see Money Laundering Alert, May 1999).
Hernández is also widely regarded across the Yucatán peninsula as a large-scale drug trafficker: see the superb investigative reports, in Spanish, on Hernández's alleged cocaine trafficking activities in the daily Por Esto!, linked as "narcotrafico" on the front page of its web site: click here.
For an English-language report on the same banker and his powerful connections, see our publisher's Boston Phoenix article from May 14, 1999:
Without mentioning anything about the drug trafficking and money laundering accusations that haunt Hernández, Mexico's most widely-read daily, El Universal, did report that Labastida's public campaign stomp with the BANAMEX president on March 16th went awry due to public outrage over Hernández's tardy delivery of a highway he had contracted to build between Mexico City and his home region of Tuxpan, Veracruz.
"FLO pleads for
civility in campaigns"
translated excerpts from El Universal, Mexico City, March 17, 2000
by Arturo Zárate Vite
"TUXPAN, VERACRUZ: In this state where it's said that there is a politician under every rock, Francisco Labastida Ochoa paid a visit accompanied by (PRI leader) Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios and the banker Roberto Hernández.
"....The banker, president of BANAMEX, a native of this port city, and the construction contractor of the Mexico-Tuxpan highway, promised to finish this highway - nearly 300 kilometers long - as soon as possible. Roberto Hernández announced that it will be concluded in July of 2002, which provoked isolated shouts that demanded it's completion in 2001.
....Labastida, microphone in hand, said, "we're going to tell him to do it sooner.," but there was already no response from the banker and he descended from the podium."
What the "Narco-Banker" said about the top three Mexican presidential candidates...
From a sidebar in the El Universal story:
"Minutes before the farmer's event was held in the sports stadium of Tuxpan, Veracruz, the banker Roberto Hernández was briefly interviewed"
Q. "How do you see the PRI candidate?"
A. "Very well, that's why I'm here."
Q. "And the rest of the adversaries? (PAN candidate) Vicente Fox?"
A. "We have to wait for the elections."
Q. "But what opinion do you have of Vicente Fox?"
A. "Good as well."
Q. "And of the engineer (and Democratic Revolution Party - PRD - candidate) Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas?"
A. "Don't go there."
Narco News commentary: The BANAMEX president is still smarting from the public confrontation he recently provoked with Cárdenas, the elected governor of Mexico City (on leave to run for president), during the March 4th National Banking Convention in Acapulco. There, Hernández, in front of reporters, told Cárdenas that his speech - in which the left's standard bearer promised to fire the current bank regulators of the nation - was in "very bad taste." Cárdenas replied to the presumed narco-banker, "Look, Roberto, we have a difference of point of view. What did you expect?" Later that day, Cárdenas spoke to a rally of supporters about the angry reaction of Hernández - Forbes magazine's 289th richest man in the world - saying, "We will see who this banker is... It is said that he is one of the prestanombres (financial front men, or "name loaners") for (ex-Mexican president and presumed narco-trafficker in self-imposed exile) Carlos Salinas de Gortari."
And this just in: BANAMEX president Hernández is reportedly on the secret list of illegal beneficiaries of the Fobaproa bank scandal. The Fobaproa fund, something akin to the FDIC in the US, dished out billions of dollars in never-paid loans, many of which were then used to further cover up the laundering of drug money. Federal deputy Dolores Padierna of the PRD party told reporters Andrea Becerril and Juan Antonio Zuñiga of La Jornada on Sunday, March 18th, that the federal regime does not want the list of Fobaproa beneficiaries released to the public because to open these files "would mean the re-fall of the Mexican political system.... The day that this list is known the political system falls, and Zedillo falls."
"Roberto Hernández, the leading bankers, the PRI, and the government don't want this list to be known because it will demonstrate the cozyness between the top political powers and the giant financial groups," said Padierna.
Cárdenas, who has struggled in third place in the public opinion polls for the presidential grail, saw his support nearly double overnight - after he took on Hernández and the nation's banks - from 11 percent to 22 percent, according to one poll.
But polls, and how they are spun by various news media outlets, are often an indication of the hidden agenda of many media outlets in the Mexican presidential race. That's because Mexico - more than 40 percent of its people live without telephones and perhaps even more live in fear of answering anonymous pollsters' questions in a land of entrenched political repression - is a very difficult country in which to draw an accurate public opinion survey. Two major US newspapers, in March, published stories based on polls of the Mexican electorate about the July 2, 2000 presidential election. And they came to very different conclusions....
Click here to get the story behind the polls...