<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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US Embassy Documents Confirm Televisa-Peña Nieto Deal in Mexico

Cables Obtained by Wikileaks in 2011 Support the Facts of The Guardian Story

By Bill Conroy & Al Giordano
Special to The Narco News Bulletin

June 11, 2012

The US Embassy in Mexico City in 2009 issued a series of cables indicating that Mexican political candidates, “are paying networks to provide them with television coverage” and that leading presidential contender Enrique Peña Nieto, in particular, “is paying media outlets under the table for favorable news coverage.”

Mexican presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto has purchased the support of the mass media, but the Mexican citizenry is in revolt against the media’s manipulations.
The documents were part of the release of thousands of leaked US State Department cables in August 2011 by the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks. They have taken on new significance in the wake of documents surfaced last week by Britain’s Guardian newspaper. On June 7, The Guardian published computer files provided to the newspaper by a “source who worked with [the Mexican media company] Televisa” that indicate that Mexico’s largest television network “sold favourable election coverage to top politicians,” particularly 2012 presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI, in its Spanish initials).

Televisa issued an indignant denial and questioned the veracity of the London daily’s report. But the facts of The Guardian story are supported by documents sent by the US Embassy in Mexico City to other US government agencies in 2009.

The Guardian’s report hit the news cycle just as a growing social movement in Mexico, called YoSoy132 (I Am 132) is mobilizing against what it deems a manipulative commercial media that is seeking to impose a presidential candidate, Peña Nieto, on the electorate in the run-up to the July 1 Mexican presidential election.

Peña Nieto is being promoted in the mainstream media as the leading candidate in Mexico’s presidential race. He served as governor of the State of Mexico from 2005 to 2011, prior to announcing his run for the presidency in September 2011.

Televisa officials deny the allegations contained in the Guardian story and have demanded the newspaper issue an apology. Peña Nieto, in a public statement, contends the Guardian’s claims “have no solid basis and are not authentic.”

However, the US Embassy cables made public by WikiLeaks counter Televisa and Peña Nieto’s denials and also make clear that the US government is quite aware of what the Guardian describes as the “TV dirty tricks” being employed by some Mexican political candidates.

A US Embassy cable dated June 12, 2009, and sent from Mexico City to the Justice, Treasury and Homeland Security departments, as well as to two Pentagon commands and the National Security Council, among other US agencies, states the following:

… Members of the political elite, analysts, and laypersons have consistently told Poloff [US Embassy political officers, or representatives] that candidates are paying networks to provide them with television coverage in order to bypass the restriction prohibiting candidates from purchasing airtime. Ortega also told Poloff that candidates provide their non-official spots to sympathetic local press, who run the promotions as “news” on regularly scheduled programs rather than as advertisements.

Another US Embassy Mexico cable dated September 24, 2009, and sent to the same roster of US agencies, reveals that: “It is widely accepted, for example, that television monopoly TELEVISA backs the governor [Peña Nieto) and provides him with an extraordinary amount of airtime and other kinds of coverage.”

The purchase by Peña-Nieto of favorable TV news coverage – and also of the results of public opinion polls that purport to show him leading the presidential contest – were first reported in a US Embassy cable dated January 26, 2009, and also delivered to a host of US agencies, including the Drug Enforcement Administration and all US consulates in Mexico. That cable is even more explicit in its contention that Peña Nieto is a favorite son of Mexico’s dominant media and polling corporations:

… Analysts and PRI party leaders alike have repeatedly expressed to Poloff [US Embassy representatives] their belief that he [Peña Nieto] is paying media outlets under the table for favorable news coverage, as well as potentially financing pollsters to sway survey results. [Emphasis added.]

In response to the denials from Peña Nieto and the call for an apology from Televisa, The Guardian issued a public statement: “The Guardian is committed to reporting on issues in Mexico, and we stand by the article in questions.”

The Guardian revelations may be news to many citizens of Mexico and the world, but US officials have known and repeated the facts of the story internally for at least three years. Documents published online by the Guardian show that Peña-Nieto paid around three million US dollars for 180 favorable “news” reports on Televisa, plus various special news features, interviews with the candidate and other biased coverage. That was in addition to around two million US dollars in paid advertisements on the network.

During a multitudinous march in Mexico City on Sunday, June 10 (city police estimated the crowd size at 90,000; Narco News, which had many reporters present with experience measuring demonstrations in the capital city, estimates that at least 350,000 participated), university students were joined by others in Civil Society condemning the attempt by Televisa, TV Azteca and other national media to impose Peña-Nieto in the July 1 presidential election, and with him the return of the repressive and authoritarian PRI party that ruled Mexico from 1929 to 2000.

“The TV is yours,” read one banner, “but Mexico is ours.”

The Guardian report and the US Embassy documents confirm for tens of millions of Mexicans that the 2012 presidential elections are not free nor fair nor legal nor democratic. After well-documented election frauds in 1988 and 2006 imposed two previous presidents – Carlos Salinas de Gortari and Felipe Calderón – against the popular will, if Mexican elections officials attempt to declare Peña Nieto the winner on July 1, a critical mass of Mexican citizens – lead by the nation’s youth – have already stated they will not accept the results. A crisis looms in Mexico, but according to the US Embassy’s own words in its own documents, Washington will not be able to feign surprise at what happens next.

Narco News today publishes the three US Embassy cables from 2009 for use by the press and the citizenry:

US Embassy Cable of January 26, 2009.

US Embassy Cable of June 12, 2009.

US Embassy Cable of September 24, 2009.

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