Pubdate: Tue, 22 May 2001
Source: El Universal (Mexico)
Copyright: 2001 El Universal
Author: Carlos Ramirez
Translation: The Narco News Bulletin,


Banamex, Fox And The Webs Of Neo-Power

The Weaknesses of Hernandez

After having lost various court cases against the Yucatan newspaper
Por Esto and against its editor Mario Menendez Rodriguez, the banker
Roberto Hernandez filed suit in a New York court for opinions against
him during a conference at Columbia University. The reason: Hernandez
had an urgent need, before selling his bank, to separate himself from
the doubts caused by the daily and by the Internet site about evidence of drugs found on his properties in

Citibank has the same problem: There are signs that the bank was used,
by some of its top executives, for millionaire operations of money
laundering that stemmed from corruption and even drug trafficking. The
offices of Citibank in Mexico served Raul Salinas de Gortari in moving
millions of dollars outside the country. And there are indications
that the powerful narco-trafficker Amado Carrillo Fuentes - "The Lord
of the Skies" - used Citibank to make money that came from the sale of
illicit drugs legitimate.

The relation of Banamex with Citibank is not gratuitous. Citibank was
the bank that ended up leading, in the 1980s, the severe foreign debt
crisis. In spite of the Mexican threats to declare a moratorium,
Citibank moved in the quicksand of Mexican politics and succeeded at
making deals with the governments of De la Madrid and Salinas.
Citibank formed a club of creditors to negotiate, as a bloc, with
debtor nations, but always opposed the formation of a debtor's club.
After fixing the economy with government money, used without
permission of Congress, Zedillo sold Confia Bank to Citibank. And John
Reed, president of Citicorp, has received the "Aztec Eagle" Medal for
his role supporting Mexico on the issue of the debt.

The political history of Banamex also has its dark zones. Roberto
Hernandez was a modest runner of stocks when he began to manage the
black fortunes of Mexican politicians in the Stock Market and from
there became a rich investor. In the government of Carlos Salinas,
Hernandez wanted to bid for ownership of Telephones of Mexico, but the
presidential decision already favored Carlos Slim, another beneficiary
of power relations with Salinism. Pedro Aspe, treasury secretary,
advised Hernandez to bid on Banamez and - oh, what a surprise! - he
won it.

Born in Salinism, Hernandez was strengthened by Zedillism. Banamex was
one of the banks rescued by FOBAPROA, in resulting from unregistered
debts that have hung a millstone around the neck of public finance. At
the same time, according to what the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD)
revealed in the House of Representatives, there was, in the year 2000,
a "fiscal pardon" for Banamex amounting to 12 billion pesos, obviously
charged to the public budget.

The dark relations of Hernandez and Banamex have begun to be known. On
Monday, January 15th, Indicador Politico published information, from
the tax collector's office in Mexico City, that showed that the owner
of the house on Agua Street where President Ernesto Zedillo and his
family lived in the Pedregal neighborhood was in the name of Banamex.
The Title Number is 354-738-35-000-2.

Hernandez turned from being a political player of Carlos Salinas to the
campaign of Zedillo. And although Salinas was persecuted by Zedillo,
Hernandez stayed very much in the past presidential term. On the eve of
the elections of August 1994, Hernandez made a statement against
(presidential candidate Cuauhtemoc) Cardenas and Diego Fernandez de
Cevallos, and in favor of Zedillo: if the PRI loses, he said, there will
be an exodus of capital, inflation, high interest rates, unemployment
and a grave devaluation of the peso. The worst about Hernandez as banker
and businessman is that his curses came true, not with the opposition,
but with Zedillo and the PRI in the presidency of the Republic.

According to confirmed reports, Hernandez gave nearly three million
dollars to the PRI political campaign of Zedillo, beyond his national
and international lobbying in favor of the official candidate.
Cardenas had threatened to review the files on the bank privatization
by Salinas, in which that of Banamex was filled with dark regions.

But Hernandez became one of the principal bankers supporting the
candidacy of Fox. And not only that: in his campaign, Fox used part of
the infrastructure of Hernandez and Banamex. For example, the vacation
house in Cancun and the offices on Paseo de la Reforma in the las
Lomas neighborhood of Mexico City. And although he has his own career
in the treasury department, the designation of Francisco Gil Diaz as
treasury secretary didn't escape the webs of political power of two
important businessmen: Gil was president of Avantel, the telephone
company of Hernandez, and he came recommended by Aspe Armella, then
linked to Alfonso Romo, another of the key businessmen in the power
relations of Fox.

The sale of Banamex to Citicorp is made precisely in the middle of the
process of the lawsuit in New York by the Mexican bank against two
journalistic publications about the narco. The origin was the
publication in the daily Por Esto of evidence that in the properties
of Hernandez in the Peninsula, packages of drugs were found. The
banker filed two legal complaints against Menendez and the daily Por
Esto. And he lost them. The third is based on a conference given by
Menendez and Al Giordano, United States journalist and editor of on the Internet for having insisted during a
conference at Columbia University on speaking about the theme of drugs
on the property of the banker.

The interesting thing was that the photographs and proofs offered by
Por Esto about the drugs in the property of Hernandez concretely
referred to the beaches in Quintana Roo of Punta Pajaros, frequented
by Zedillo when he was president of the Republic and where Vicente Fox
came to rest on July 8, 2000 after having won the presidency. Punta
Pajaros is found in a zone known as "The Drug Peninsula."

The battle by Menendez and Giordano went all the way to the offices of
The New York Times. Giordano denounced, on his Internet site, that Sam
Dillon, correspondent for the New York daily, had been informed of the
proofs of the drugs on the properties of Hernandez but did not publish
the information. And the justifications were there: During his visit
to the Yucatan, president Clinton was received on the properties of
the banker Hernandez.

The matter jumped to the pages of The Village Voice, a prestigious
progressive weekly in New York, where the analyst Cynthia Cotts broke
the story in December 2000 that was heating up in the Court of the
State of New York. In February of last year, Cotts published, in her
column, that is very prestigious among those members of the media who
ascribe to ethical behavior, a severe accusation: "In Mexico,
untouchables are people protected by the power they wield. Two of
these individuals are Sam Dillon and Roberto Hernandez."

Now, the matter has been brought to the level of lawyers, but the
journalists and the banker Roberto Hernandez will be seated on the
witness stand. However, the journalists have an advantage: Por Esto
already won twice over the same accusation and has photos of the drugs
found on the beaches of Hernandez. And the lawsuit against an Internet
site doesn't know where to find jurisdiction. That's why Hernandez
focused his attacks against the opinions of Menendez and Giordano in a
North American university.

The litigation against Por Esto could clarify many things and even
involve itself in the case of Governor Mario Villanueva, accused by
Zedillo of being a narco and who escaped hours before the end of his
term. The origin of Villanueva's conflict was not the narco, but his
disputes with Hernandez over real estate and tourist zones in Quintana
Roo. Hernandez has had all total protection from Zedillo.

Thus, two important banks stained by evidences of being dedicated to
dirty work have decided to merge. But their histories remain in the
memory of journalism. 
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