Thursday, May 21, 2009

Drugs grab mexican political spotlight

This is just an amazing story, rich with texture and, well, interest. As Twain said, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

Revelations that army troops confiscated 14.5 tons of marijuana at a warehouse belonging to the brother of a prominent Mexican senator have heightened feuding in an election season that has been shaken by claims that drug barons have infiltrated the political establishment.

Fourteen and a half tons are about thirty two thousand pounds (14.5 * 2,200 = 31, 900). A lot of weed.

Authorities said the seizure, which took place in January and was reported by the Reforma newspaper Monday, happened at a chili-drying facility owned by Cándido Monreal, the brother of Sen. Ricardo Monreal.

[Ricardo Monreal Ávila is a Mexican politician affiliated to the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD). He is a former senator, a former Governor of Zacatecas and a former member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) being closely identified during his tenure in that party with former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari. He has a BA and a PhD, states his wiki-bio. He serves in the Senate currently.]

Their brother David, the mayor of Fresnillo, where the warehouse is situated, said Tuesday that the marijuana had been "planted" by his political enemies. David Monreal is running with the left-wing Workers' Party for governor of the state, Zacatecas, in elections next year.

32 thousand pounds of anything planted? What kind of security system does the warehouse have?

Asked how it was possible to slip in tons of marijuana, Mr. Monreal said, "I think in trucks. I don't know what they used, but it's very simple for those who are in power and for delinquents to do that kind of thing."

Don't bother me with details. Perhaps in camiones. Who knows? The fact is, those in power and criminals can do such things. Er, wait un segundo, Señor Alcalde (Mr. Mayor) -- aren't you in power?

Sen. Ricardo Monreal said his family was the victim of "dirty tricks" by Zacatecas Gov. Amalia García and her daughter, Sen. Claudia Corichi, both of whom are political rivals to the Monreals among Mexico's fractured left-wing parties.

O, I see, the governor is the one in power. So, why does Fresnillo need a mayor?

Gov. García couldn't be reached to comment. Ms. Corichi said the Monreals' allegations were "a smokescreen" to cover up the marijuana bust.

The metaphors are very rich: a smokescreen. O, and, yes, it gets better. After all, this isn't fiction.

No charges have been filed in the case because the investigation is ongoing, according to the Attorney General's Office.

Touchè. Yet, there still is more.

Recent allegations against the PRI haven't come only from outside the party. Last week, former President Miguel de la Madrid of the PRI, who was in power from 1982 to 1988, said in a radio interview he regretted choosing Carlos Salinas as his successor because Mr. Salinas was corrupt and his brother Raúl had ties to drug traffickers.

From 1982 to 1988, de la Madrid, of PRI, was President. Lopez Portillo preceded him, Carlos Salinas followed.

Within hours of the broadcast, after being visited by top PRI legislators, Mr. de la Madrid issued a statement that he had misspoken because he was old and infirm. Both Salinas brothers denied the allegations.

Not quoted out of context, de la Madrid simply misspoke because he's old and sick.

The marijuana scandal isn't the first time charges of drug trafficking have affected Ricardo Monreal's career. In 1998, PRI party elders and top government officials barred him from running for governor because of allegations his brothers were involved in drug trafficking. Mr. Monreal quit the party and went on to win the governorship of Zacatecas for the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution.

Perhaps the PRI's tent was too small for Señor Monreal.

On Monday, Mr. Monreal referred to those past allegations, which he denied: "They already tried to do this to my family 10 years ago, and are now trying to do this again."


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