By Sandra E. Mendoza Ortiz
MÉXICO – The recent revelations from a detained capo have revealed an important dispute between two very important media giants: The magazine Proceso and the tv station Televisa.
Recently, Televisa released an video-taped interview with Sergio Villarreal alias “El Grande” who was arrested in September of this year and has accused Proceso of entering into a deal with him and the people he represented in the world of narcotrafficers.
The information he revealed about the newspaper, which recently published an article that contains allegations against the journalist Ricardo Ravelo in which “El Grande” says that he personally met with Mexican president Felipe Calderón.
'Even Calderon met with him'
In the article titled “El Grande: Even Calderón met with him," the capo makes allegations that he was introduced to the president back when he was a senator. The meeting took place during the baptism of PANista's daughter, Elsa Anaya. The capo claims to have told the senator, "whatever you need, I am at your service," the future president replied "and I, in yours."
According to Televisa, the capo then became upset upset because he thought this was a violation of a previous agreement he made with that same reporter Ricardo Ravelo and with Proceso: he had given the magazine fifty thousand dollars cash in exchange for their silence with regards to any information they may receive in the future in respect to Villarreal, at the time a principal operator for Héctor Beltrán Leyva.
He states that Ricardo Ravelo asked him for a monthly stipend, but the capo refused. According to El Grande, "There was a noticeable change in the articles they published, if you look you will see a sudden drop in stories related to myself and my associates. They could mention La Barbie and a few others, but not us by name."
Villarreal also says he isn't wasn't the only one buying Proceso's loyalty and claims that Ravelo is in charge of collecting the magazine's "fees."
Proceso on the defense
"We wholeheartedly reject the accusations by the journalist Joaquín López Dóriga during his interview with Sergio Villarreal. We believe this is defamation and it leaves us with the clear impression that is an act of aggression," said Rafael Rodríguez Castañeda, chief editor at Proceso during an interview with Univision.com.
“Since about halfway through this year --and even before that-- Proceso has placed a lot of attention in the subject of narcotrafficking. We believe it is a subject in which the public's interest has grown. We also believe it is a subject that should be exhibited in it multiple facets only when the situation calls for it. Many times, Proceso runs stories with valid documents or witness testimony to back up our claims. We don't invent the information; we obtain it through investigative journalism."
Rodríguez went on to say that Proceso has characterized itself as a media outlet that doesn't cater to "special interest" groups when choosing what it does or doesn't publish. The editors are living the reality of Mexico in this day and age, "Either we have a narco who is subordinate to a reporter or a poorly edited story."
Televisa's response was "finally, their delinquent activities are being brought into the light by the authorities. It is unthinkable to print stories things on the whim of this capo."
Rodríguez stated that Proceso was considering legal action against those who wrote and published the article which qualifies as an "act of aggression."
Where the Smear Campaign Allegedly Originated.
“We believe this was the result of direct intervention from the federal government and the executive branch specifically. The "story" was filtered to Televisa after two poignant and important articles were published by Proceso in regards to the activities of certain relatives of president Calderon."
He went on to say that the authorities and Televisa acted in concert to make this article happen. "In this sense, we could petition for investigation by the Human Rights Commission, either nationally or with the inter-Americas."
When asked specifically if Proceso would continue to publish investigations along similiar lines, Rodríguez responded, "for us it's incentive and motivation to stride forward with this important work."
“This act of aggression is very problematic for the press. Its either the government or the criminal organizations that come after you, you must watch yourself on all side for these aggressors."
"However, this act of institutionaized aggression should be considered a grave warning. It is to say that the government doesn't approve of the freedom of expression," concluded the editor for Proceso.
The Other Version
Unfortunately, Univision.com was unable to get a response from the President of Mexico or his press secretary. When we contacted the PGR (Attorney General), we were told that a statement would be issued on the subject later today.