<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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Questions Surround the Sarkozys’ Private Visit to Mexico

“The hotel belongs to Roberto Hernandez Ramirez, a millionaire banker accused by some of being connected to Mexican drug cartels”


By Le Monde.fr avec AFP
Le Monde

March 17, 2009

The beginning of Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to Mexico was overshadowed by the Cassez case, in which a French woman was condemned to sixty years in prison for kidnapping. But two days after the Head of State’s return to France, his private stay in western Mexico before the beginning of the official visit set off a controversy. The Sarkozys arrived in Mexico on Friday, March 6, with the intention of passing a few days in a luxurious hotel complex in Tamarindo, on the Pacific coast. Two and a half days of vacations, visits, and dinners “at the invitation of President Calderón,” said the Elysée Palace [where the French president lives].

This statement was put in doubt by the radio station RTL, which maintains, citing an anonymous Mexican diplomat, that the Mexican president did not, under any circumstances, finance a stay “outside of a State residence.” The radio mentioned Roberto Hernandez Ramirez as the presidential pair’s benefactor. Hernandez Ramirez is a millionaire banker who is accused by some of being connected to Mexican drug cartels. One of the Yucatan properties where the couple stayed during their trip belongs to him, according to the radio station.

Silence

The website RUE89 mentions an article by US journalist Al Giordano, who also mentions an investigation by a local Mexican newspaper that accuses Hernandez of actively participating in cocaine trafficking in Mexico in the 1980s and 1990s. Giordano, whose website Narco News goes in-depth into the subject of drugs in Latin America and the United States, was sued several times by Roberto Hernandez Ramierez as a result of these accusations, without ever being convicted.

Since then, silence has prevailed in the Elysée Palace as well as in the highest Mexican circles. Interrogated over the weekend by Mediapart (subscription required), Elysée Palace spokesperson Franck Louvrier maintained that it was “the Mexican president who did the inviting.” In the Mexican president’s office the response has been, according to RTL, that “no one is authorized to speak on the subject.” During his private trips, the Head of State has already been invited by businessmen: the Paloma yacht and a Falcon 900 plane, both property of Vincent Bolloré, have been used for trips to Malta and Egypt.

For more information:

Articles, documents, and links about Roberto Hernandez Ramirez’s lawsuits in Narco News: The Drug War on Trial

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America