Former presidential candidate Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, who was kidnapped two months ago, spoke with his family last weekend and is in good health, the Mexico City daily La Jornada reported Thursday, citing an official.
“Don Diego is in good health. His family was able to speak with him just three days ago, when the kidnappers allowed a brief call,” a source in Mexico’s national security council told the newspaper.
The council is made up of the Public Safety, Navy, Government and Defense secretariats, as well as the Attorney General’s Office.
Fernandez de Cevallos disappeared on May 14 from his La Cabaña ranch near San Clemente, a town in the central state of Queretaro.
The politician’s vehicle was found at the entrance to the ranch’s garage, with traces of blood inside.
The case was initially handled by the Queretaro Attorney General’s Office, with support from federal prosecutors.
The federal AG’s office, however, said on May 22 that it was suspending its investigation in accordance with the wishes of the politician’s family.
The AG’s office said in a short statement that it wanted to comply with “the wishes of the family” of Fernandez de Cevallos, a leading member of the ruling National Action Party, or PAN, and the party’s presidential candidate in the 1994 elections.
Fernandez de Cevallos’s relatives acknowledged that they were negotiating the payment of ransom with the kidnappers.
“For now, the ransom negotiations are continuing and the money is being gathered to meet the demands (of the criminals),” the security council official told La Jornada.
A photo showing a much thinner and blindfolded Fernandez de Cevallos was released a few weeks ago by the kidnappers as proof that the politician was still alive.
The group responsible for abducting the former presidential candidate has been identified, La Jornada said.
The group has operated for two decades and has been linked to around 40 “high-impact” kidnappings of industrialists and businessmen, the newspaper said.
The kidnappers are reportedly demanding $30 million – down from an initial demand for $50 million – and the Fernandez de Cevallos family has sold several vehicles, vacation properties and other assets, La Jornada said.
Fernandez de Cevallos, who lost the 1994 presidential election to Ernesto Zedillo of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, has been one of the most powerful figures in the PAN and Mexican politics in the past two decades.
The politician was born on March 16, 1941, in Mexico City and studied law at the Ibero-American University and the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM.
Fernandez de Cevallos, a politician feared for his fiery oratory, was a member of the lower house of Congress from 1991 to 1994 and a senator from 2000 to 2006.
He also runs a successful law firm that has represented both corporate giants and reputed drug kingpins.