The Narco News Bulletin

"The name of our country is América"

-- Simón Bolívar

Sunday, July 9, 2000

Where's Vicente Fox Today?

Nooooo..., not with US Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey....

No, not with Ambassador Davidow (that was Friday)...

El Universal, July 8, 2000, reports:

"Vicente Fox Quesada and his family traveled yesterday on a vacation to the island of Punta Pajaros, Quintana Roo, property of Roberto Hernández, president of the banking group Banamex-Accival...."

Narco News must be making this up... The largest newspaper in Mexico is reporting that the President-elect is on the most famous narco-property of the Caribbean?

El Universal continues:

"Fox left Mexico City at midday to the Toluca airport. At 2 p.m. he boarded a private Cessna airplane, license number 650EASPC, to be taken to the city of Cancún, Quintana Roo. At 6:55 p.m. a helicopter transported Fox and his family to island of Punta Pajaros, located three hours by land and sea from the principle tourist zone of Mexico...."

But isn't that where the old boss Zedillo vacationed with the "narco-banker?"

El Universal continues:

"One cannot arrive easily at the island of Punta Pajaros. Armed people guard the island 24 hours a day. This place is frequented by President Ernesto Zedillo, who this weekend also happens to be in Quintana Roo..."

"The Cocaine Peninsula -- 43 kilometers of beach where tons of cocaine have been unloaded, owned by narco-banker Roberto Hernández Ramírez" SOURCE: the daily Por Esto! (Mexican Courts Ruled "All of these reports were based on the facts.")

From... the Coca Peninsula

Reader Letters from Cozumel and Oaxaca on This Stunning Development

Fox's New Summer Home?

La Jornada Has Confirmed the Story:

By Correspondent David Sosa, Cancún, Quintana Roo, July 9, 2000: Sunday afternoon, president-elect Vicente Fox returned to Mexico City to restart his activities after vacationing this weekend in a residence of his friend Roberto Hernández, president of the banking group Banamex-Accival.

The mansion is located on the island of Punta Pájaros, near the protected nature reserve of Sian Ka'an, where, according to close sources, he went diving, fishing, walking on the beach and using an aqua-motorcycle.

Accompanied by his four children -- Ana Cristina, Paulina, Vicente and Rodrigo -- Fox arrived at the airport of this tourist destination in a white Dauphin helicopter, license number XACCI, appearing to be property of the banker, who was a studying partner of the next president in the Ibero-American University campus at León, Guanajuato.

...the media was prevented from getting near anyone, including leaders, militants and candidates of the Alliance for Change who accompanied Vicente Fox in these days.

Although one story had circulated that president Ernesto Zedillo met with his successor, this was not confirmed... The residence of Roberto Hernández in Punta Pájaros has served to host President Ernesto Zedillo and his family on diverse ocassions when they have vacationed in this state.

-- from La Jornada, July 10, 2000

The Facts About the Narco Property

A Timeline of the Story the NY Times Failed to Squash

December 16, 1996: The daily Por Esto!, Mexico's third most-read newspaper, reports that the Caribbean beachfront properties of banker Roberto Hernández Ramírez, of BANAMEX and the Forbes list, are operating as a key entry point for hundreds of tons of South American cocaine.

Photos by Gonzalo Subirats of Por Esto!

1. Por Esto! Reporters inside Roberto Hernández properties in 1996, investigating what local fishermen reported as a huge cocaine trafficking operation protected by the owner. The cocaine boats entered by night into these estuaries and unloaded their illicit cargo, later to be sent North to the US in small airplanes.

2. BANAMEX president Roberto Hernández Ramírez.

3. The private airfield from which small planes fly north on Hernández properties "without any governmental oversight."

4. 200 kilos of cocaine seized on "Punta Pajaros", owned by Hernández, the exact place where Mexico's President-Elect chose to spend his vacation 120 hours after winning the July 2, 2000 elections, as guest of the banker Hernández.

February 1997: Por Esto! journalist Renán Castro is offered a bribe of $300,000 US dollars to denounce and discredit the story. An authentic journalist, he refuses the payment and continues his investigations.

March 1997: The Por Esto! newspaper files criminal charges against Roberto Hernández Ramírez for narco-trafficking, destruction of the environment by the cocaine operation on a federally-protected nature reserve, and destruction of ancient Mayan ruins of Chac Mool on the Hernández properties.

The office of Mexican Attorney General Jorge Madrazo reacts not by investigating the facts on the banker and presidential-pal Hernández, but with a campaign of harrassment and threats against the journalists, and their family members, of Por Esto!

Divisions emerge within the Mexican federal government. The Armed Forces begin more aggressive patrolling of the waters along the Caribbean coast of Quintana Roo. Smaller and competing cocaine traffickers begin to switch their routes from the Caribbean to the Pacific Ocean. But presidential orders come down that the Armed Forces are forbidden from entering the properties of Roberto Hernández Ramírez. President Ernesto Zedillo continues vacationing with Hernández at "Punta Pajaros."

Meanwhile, mutual vendettas break out between Quintana Roo governor Mario Villanueva and Roberto Hernández over coastal real estate in the Cocaine Triangle.

Photos by Gonzalo Subirats in Por Esto!

1. Por Esto! editor Renán Castro questions Hernández properties manager Bobby Seattles, who later, with Hernández, files criminal charges against Por Esto!, its publisher, editor, reporter and photographer for "criminal trespass" and "defamation." A Supreme Court Judge, in September 1999, threw out the lawsuit with a finding "All the reports in Por Esto! were based on facts."

2. One of the small aircraft that the newspaper witnessed taking off from the Hernández private airfield at "Punta Pajaros."

1997-1998: The citizens of the Yucatán Peninsula express their outrage about the impunity with which cocaine trafficking on the banker's properties are protected by the federal government. They speak out against the official attacks on freedom of the press. More than 100 town councils, indigenous organizations, unions, church groups and sporting associations pass resolutions denouncing the cocaine trafficking and the attacks on Por Esto!

Thousands flock to public assemblies held every two weeks by Mario Menéndez Rodríguez, publisher and editor of Por Esto!, in different towns and cities, to show their support. (Menéndez is the only newspaper publisher in Mexico or North America who subjects himself to direct public comment and criticism and prints the transcripts of the assemblies in his newspaper.)

Especially irritating to the Maya indigenous populations is the destruction of the ancient ceremonial center of Chac Mool by the cocaine trafficking operation on Hernández properties, and the environmental disaster caused by cocaine trafficking garbage that is left upon the formerly pristine Caribbean beaches in the Sian Ka'an Protected Nature Reserve.

Photo by Gonzalo Subirats of Por Esto!

Chac Mool, ancient Mayan ceremonial center (300 a.d.) that has sustained serious damage since the narco-banker Hernández bought the property.

Photos by Gonzalo Subirats of Por Esto!

Garbage strewn across beaches on the Cocaine Peninsula of Roberto Hernández Ramírez, almost all of it Colombian-made and associated with cocaine trafficking by narco-sailors: gas tanks thrown away after use by Colombian shark boats, baby powder used by sailors on long journeys, quick sugar food containers, glue containers for fixing plastic cocaine packaging; products made in Medellín, Cali, Baranquilla and Cartagena along Colombia's Caribbean coast. These non-biodegradable products are the same brands as those found on seized Colombian shark boats used to transport cocaine.

Lawyers for Hernández and the staff of Mexican federal environmental secretary Julia Carrábias (wife of Federal Elections Commissioner José Woldenberg) tried to convince the judge that these containers just happened to arrive, one by one, upon Hernández properties, brought by sea currents. They did not explain, though, why garbage from coastal nations much closer than Colombia -- Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica or Panama -- were not carried by the same mythical currents to the Cocaine Peninsula. The people of the Yucatán peninsula laughed at this bureaucratic maneuver. The judge didn't buy it and ruled against the federal protectors of cocaine trafficking.

1998: US citizen Cynthia Robinson, threatened and chased off her own land near the Sian Ka'an Nature Reserve, tells Associated Press reporter Mark Stevenson that Bobby Seattles of the Hernández organization tried to pressure her to sell her land to him and implied she would be set up on drug charges by the powerful official friends of Hernández if she did not cooperate.

AP does not publish the story until September 1999 when the Supreme Court ruled that the Por Esto! stories were "based on facts."

September 1998: NY Times reporter Sam Dillon, always at the right hand of US and Mexican official sources, goes to Quintana Roo to prepare his report on governor Mario Villanueva, whom officials have already signaled will take the fall for the now-exposed cocaine trafficking along this coastline. Villanueva has already been in conflicts over real estate with Roberto Hernández Ramírez and the brother of President Zedillo.

Dillon of the Times interviews Renán Castro of Por Esto! in Quintana Roo. He later criticizes Castro behind his back, implying that Castro was not at Dillon's high level of journalistic talent.

One wonders, what would a "high-level" journalist do if offered $300,000 US dollars to squash a story? Would he or she refuse such a handsome sum of money as Castro did? And if the market was offering $300,000 US dollars to a Mexican newspaper reporter to silence this story, what might be the price of a ¨higher level" journalist?

Dillon declines the opportunity to interview the formidable veteran journalist Mario Menéndez. But he does go to Mérida, where Menéndez is located. He meets instead with the sister of the banker Roberto Hernández.

February 1999: US President Bill Clinton arrives in Mérida, Yucatán, two days after escaping impeachment by the US Congress, to hold an anti-drug summit with Zedillo. The host: Narco-Banker Roberto Hernández.

At that meeting, the head of Hernández competitor Villanueva is traded for Mexico's certification by the US as trusted drug-war ally.

The New York Times mentions that the "anti-drug" summit is at the banker Hernandez' hacienda. But withholds the facts from its readers that Hernández was already the most famous accused drug trafficker on the Yucatán Peninsula.

March 19, 1999: NY Times reporter Sam Dillon makes an unsolicited call to independent journalist (and now publisher of the Narco News Bulletin) Al Giordano to find out "what he has" on Hernández. He threatens Giordano that he will discredit both him and Por Esto! publisher Mario Menéndez in the New York Times for publishing the story.

Dillon admits during this threatening conversation that he knew the charges against Hernández. But even when President Clinton held an "anti-drug" summit on the narco-banker's property, Dillon withheld that information from Times readers.

May 13, 1999: The Boston Phoenix publishes "Clinton and his Narco-Pals," the first US press report on cocaine trafficking by the presidential host Hernández.

Giordano faxes a complaint with his notes on Dillon's threat to The New York Times. No response until a year later when it is announced that Dillon and his wife Julia Preston, the other Times correspondent in Mexico, will be leaving their posts and replaced; Preston goes next week and Dillon in September.

September 1999: Courts rule against Hernández and in favor of Por Esto!

Associated Press publishes its story on the case.

February 2000: The Village Voice Press Clips column by Cynthia Cotts tackles the contrasting approaches to this story by Por Esto! and by the New York Times. NY Times must realize by now that the story is not going away.

March 2000: For the first time in 40 years, including a decade in which he was banned from entering the United States, Mario Menéndez sets foot on US soil at the invitation of the Columbia University Law School in New York City, and presents the evidence of official complicity in cocaine trafficking. He calls for the legalization of drugs as the only way to stop the corruption and violence. He meets hundreds of important members of US Civil Society who express their solidarity with the Yucatán journalist.

April 4, 2000: The Acapulco Bankers Convention, with Hernández of Banamex at the podium, offers clear support to Vicente Fox's presidential campaign in Mexico.

Sam Dillon of the New York Times, who accompanied Fox to the bankers convention, then coronates Fox, the candidate of the narco-banker, as the next president of Mexico. The NY Times makes no mention of the speech at the Bankers Convention by presidential candidate Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas that called for bringing corrupt bankers to justice, a speech attacked by Hernández as "in very bad taste." Cárdenas announces that Hernández is a "financial front man" for ex-president Carlos Salinas, in exile and implicated in billions of dollars in drug trafficking and money laundering. The NY Times withholds that information from readers.

PRI candidate Francisco Labastida brings Hernández on a campaign stop in Veracruz, where Hernández ends up embarrassing Labastida and walking off stage in a huff.

The Narco News Bulletin is born on April 18, 2000, and, on its first day, publishes all of these stories.

May 2000: The news that the NY Times has decided to replace Dillon and Preston at the Mexico bureau launches a fierce international polemic.

June 7, 2000: National Freedom of the Press Day in Mexico: Two-time National Press Award-winner Carlos Ramírez dedicates his column in El Universal and 25 other dailies to criticizing Dillon of the NY Times. Dillon writes letter to the editor, trying to obscure the issue as a matter of the date of his exit. Later, NY Times International Editor Andrew Rosenthal tries to silence Ramírez. That effort fails miserably: Ramírez then raises evidence that a Pulitzer prize winning Times story by Dillon was disproven and notes that the Times is so rabid to gag him because there is "a Pulitzer at stake."

June 2000: The paper trail of millions of dollars of money-laundering, in the style of the narco-traffickers, by the Vicente Fox campaign comes to light. The disgraced NY Times correspondents Dillon and Preston, filing some of their final stories, are the only US journalists to defend Fox and claim that the charges were not documented. Other US journalists were more cautious given that the charges were documented by bank checks. (Dillon and Preston say they will work on a book about "Mexican democracy" once leaving the Times bureau: Are they distorting the news to stay close to Fox?)

July 2, 2000: Vicente Fox wins Mexican Presidential Election.

July 7, 2000: Vicente Fox meets in Mexico City with US Ambassador Jeffrey Davidow.

Fox then meets with former US Ambassador James Jones, former employee of a company backed by presumed drug trafficker Carlos Hank González and recently hired by the Washington law firm of Mannatt and Phelps, owned by the US Narco-Ambassador to the Dominican Republic and former US Democratic Party chairman Charles Mannatt.

After meeting with the two US operators, Fox hops on a plane, then a helicopter, and according to El Universal, heads for Punta Pajaros on the Cocaine Peninsula as guest of the Narco Banker Roberto Hernández Ramírez.

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