Sócrates Rizzo Garcia, former Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) Governor of Nuevo Leon (from 1991 to 1996) during the Salinas and Zedillo PRI presidential administrations.
In a conference with students held on Wednesday, February 23, at the Law School of the Autonomous University of Coauhuila in Saltillo, Socrates Rizzo delivered a bombshell that has rocked Mexico as the campaign for the 2012 presidential election approaches.
During an interview session the former PRI Governor admitted that previous PRI presidents held strong control over drug trafficking routes that prevented the attacks on civilians and the violence that Mexico is undergoing today.
Although an open secret in Mexican society and a charge occasionally leveled publicly by the country’s two other major political parties, the National Action Party (PAN) and the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), this is the first time in recent history that a former or current PRI politician has admitted publicly that this arrangement existed.
"Somehow the problems with drug trafficking were avoided, there was a strong State control and a strong President and a strong Attorney General and a tight control of the Army.”
"Somehow they (drug traffickers) were told: 'You go through here, you here, you there', but do not touch these other places," he said in his speech.
The former Governor added that this strategy allowed the State to ensure the social peace that has been lost in the war on drugs launched by the PAN administration of Felipe Calderon.
"What the old guard says is that we had control by the Government and the Army. The big problem is consumption, and while consumption exists in the U.S. there will be drug trafficking in that direction.”
"What control by the PRI governments guaranteed was that drug trafficking did not disturb the social peace."
Socrates Rizzo, who was the PRI Governor of Nuevo Leon between 1991 and 1996, said the government control ended with the PAN administrations of Presidents Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón, who failed to listen to advice on how things were done in previous years, thus sparking the current violence.
"This dilemma was lost due to problems of professionalism, it is natural that new officials come without experience, they wanted to do things differently and they did not take advice because the last thing they wanted to hear was anything from the PRI, they said that the PRI were the 'snake in the grass’ and with that they refused counsel.”
"Although there was a change of party, you should have had continuity with what the past government was doing, I think not taking advice on past arrangements relaxed discipline and mechanisms of control and now we see the results."
Rizzo denied that the governors were involved in the agreements between the federal government and the drug trade because those were times when the President had broad powers to the extent that the state executives had to obey.
However, the growth that has occurred with drug consumption in Mexico makes it impossible to resume the negotiation schemes between the government and the drug traffickers, said the former governor.
"These are new times, we are in another world. We now have a drug consumption problem and the problem of ‘disorganized’ crime of robberies and extortions.”
"We didn’t have those problems in the past. At that time there was a strong President with an iron grip on the Army that could maintain social peace and with drug trafficking, that demand determined supply."
(It is believed that the formalized arrangements with drug traffickers began during the PRI administration of Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado from 1982 to 1988 under the direction of his Interior Minister Gobernacion), Manuel Bartlett Diaz, who used the Interior Ministry police force, the Federal Security Directorate (DFS), to coordinate and control the drug trade, which became a protected activity.
During this period DFS positions and posts were sold to members of drug cartels, in effect granting them the power to operate with impunity.
This protection continued during the PRI presidency of Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who disbanded the DFS and transferred the coordination and protection of drug traffickers to the Army, Federal Judicial Police and prosecutors such as Enrique Alvarez and Javier Coello Trejo.
The belief remains strong that Luis Donaldo Colosio, Carlos Salinas’ handpicked successor to the presidency of Mexico, was assassinated during the presidential campaign of 1994 because of his refusal to deal with the drug trafficking underworld.
The Salinas administration was so corrupt that even De La Madrid regretted his decision to chose Carlos Salinas as his successor. In interview with journalist Carmen Aristegui, De la Madrid said that Raul Salinas, Carlos’ brother, was the link with drug cartels during the Salinas administration between 1988 and 1994, an administration that De La Madrid denounced as marked by "immorality ".
“Raul Salinas was the one who kept contact with the drug cartels and who got the money to accounts in Switzerland and France, through operations with American banks."
"I am very disappointed that I was wrong, but then I had no evidence about the morality of Salinas.”
Previous classified statements that Sócrates Rizzo made to the Monterrey U.S. Consul General in cable 09MONTERREY31 and revealed by Wikileaks show that pacts between political figures of all parties and drug cartels are possible even now,
[Organized Crime and the Elections
3. (SBU) Particularly worrisome, Rizzo observed, was the
prospect of the upcoming gubernatorial, state, and municipal
elections, scheduled to take place in Nuevo Leon on July 5.
While the two principal parties - PRI and PAN - had both taken
steps to guard against the infiltration of narco-money in the
campaigns, in practice it would be practically impossible to
prevent organized crime from bankrolling candidates. One way
the cartels could impact the race would be to just bribe
television anchorpersons and the commentators, thereby ensuring
that their particular candidate received favorable coverage.
Alternatively, he said, organized crime could provide a
candidate's staff with walking around money to distribute to
voters. Meanwhile, another contact pointed out that the
applicable campaign finance regulations only cover the
candidate, so that it would be easy to simply funnel the narco
money to a family member.])
Hours after Rizzo’s statements were covered in the media, a firestorm of dissent from the PRI establishment rained on the ex-Governor.
"Statements of this nature and superficiality do little to make a true diagnosis of the serious problem we have today, of crime and drug trafficking," said the chairman of the Senate. “We are all accountable for our statements and need to back them up with evidence.”
(In an investigative article on corruption in Mexico published in 1997, the New York Times printed the following: The Governor of the Mexican state that borders Arizona is collaborating with one of the world's most powerful drug traffickers, creating a haven for smugglers who transport vast quantities of narcotics into the United States, according to American officials and intelligence.
Officials said this conclusion was based on a wealth of evidence, including ''highly reliable'' informers' reports that the Governor, Manlio Fabio Beltrones Rivera, took part in meetings in which leading traffickers paid high-level politicians who were protecting their operations.
According to the accounts, Raul Salinas de Gortari, the brother of the former President, received suitcases full of cash and was responsible for distributing the money to those attending.
Present and former officials said the evidence of Mr. Beltrones's role was so detailed and compelling that the United States had included his name on a confidential document provided to the transition team of President Ernesto Zedillo listing more than a dozen officials suspected of corruption. Another Mexican Governor, Jorge Carrillo Olea, was also included on the American blacklist because of reported entanglements with major drug dealers.
While Mr. Zedillo did not name either man to a federal post, both continue to wield considerable power in their states and nationally through their prominence in Mexico's governing party. Both seem to enjoy a tacit immunity from concerted criminal investigation in Mexico and the United States.
Manlio Fabio Beltrones is still in line for the PRI nomination for the presidency of Mexico if the party’s “golden boy”, Enrique Peña Nieto, loses his certain grip on the candidacy)
"There were never direct or indirect dealings with drug traffickers to give them any support. Domestic consumption has grown in recent years, in the past there were no conflicts because there was no struggle for the domestic market.”
(Baeza Melendez was the Governor of Chihuaua from 1986 to 1992, during the rise to power of Amado Carrillo Fuentes “the Lord of the Skys”. During his term in office the former Governor, Elias Ramirez Ruiz, his director of the state judicial police, and Elias Ramirez jr., the director’s son and representative of the PGR in the state of Chihuahua, were rumored to be the protectors of the then head of the Juarez cartel, Rafael Aguilar Guajardo and his criminal operation.
Amado Carrillo had the backing of the then Secretary of National Defense Juan José Arévalo Gardoqui.
Soon after Baeza Melendez ended his term as Governor, Rafael Aguilar Guajardo was murdered in Cancun and Amado Carrillo assumed control of the Juarez cartel.)
In an interview with Univision news anchorman Jorge Ramos, Enrique Pena Nieto, the former Governor of the state of Mexico (Edomex) and current frontrunner for the PRI candidacy for President of the Republic in 2012, gave a cryptic anwser to the question of whether the PRI had negotiated with drug cartels while in power.
"When the PRI held political hegemony in this country we were not living what we have today, it was another scenario, another reality. But today we are living in a completely different world, not only in Mexico but throught the globe.”
(This is not the first occasion that Peña Nieto and the PRI uses the ‘election ploy’ tactic to cloud an issue. In January of this year Edomex state prosecutors downplayed calls to investigate the over 900 femicides that have taken place in the state since Peña Nieto took office in 2006 and the failure of Edomex law enforcement to address the gravity of these crimes.
The Edomex municipalities of Toluca (the state capitol), Naucalpan and Chimahualcán, along with Ciudad Juarez in Chihuahua now constitute Mexico’s epicenter for these hate crimes against women.
The proposal to convene a special investigation was blocked by the PRI and the party dismissed the demand for an investigation as an ‘election ploy’.
This action by the PRI was meant to protect the image of Peña Nieto if he is indeed chosed as the party’s standard bearer in the presidential elections of 2012.)
The National President of the PRI party and former Governor of Coahuila, Humberto Moreira, added his voice to those rejecting the statements of Socrates Rizzo.
Moreira denied that the PRI had ever negotiated with the drug cartels to maintain stability within the borders of Mexico.
“When the PRI was in power we arrested El Chapo Guzman, when the PAN took over he escaped”
(It should be noted that while Moreira was Governor of Coahuila the state became a Los Zetas bastion. His political opponents in the state often referred to him as the Zeta Governor.
At one time Ruben Moreira, Humberto’s brother and candidate for Governor of Coahuila in this year’s elections, was the next door neighbor to “el Canicon”, or Sigifredo Najera Talamantes, a senior member of Los Zetas living in Saltillo who was behind the Zeta takeover of Nuevo Leon and was the head of the Zeta plaza of Monterrey.
El Canicon claimed responsibility for the grenade attack on the U.S. consulate in Monterrey on October 12, 2008 and was responsible for the torture, mutilation and murder of nine Army troops in Monterrey from October 17 to the 22nd, 2008. He is supposed to have co-opted up to 60 percent of all police officers in Nuevo Leon. El Canicon was arrested in Saltillo in March 2009 by the army in a top secret operation designed to prevent any warning by Coahuila’s law enforcement apparatus.
Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, El Z 40, who is one of the top leaders of Los Zetas is reported to own ranches in Coahuila and in a letter sent by a citizen’s group to President Calderon in November of last year, the residents of the border city of Piedras Negras complained of the regular presence of El Z 40 in their city and his protection by local and state police officials. Even the presence of Heriberto Lazcano, the head of Los Zetas, was reported on the letter.
Coahuila is the fourth ranked state in Mexico in the number of kidnappings reported to authorities, and it should be noted that in Mexico the vast majority of kidnappings for ransom are never reported.
A cable released released by Wikileaks, 09Monterry251, even mentions that Moreira was willing to sacrifice the lives of his citizens due to his hatred of the PAN party
[Armed gangs roamed the city of Torreon and its suburbs, with the situation even worse across the river in Gomez Palacios, Durango. The state/local police forces in the Laguna region were of little use as organized crime had either corrupted or intimidated officers there. Note: Moreira is the Governor of a decidedly PRI state; Torreon is the one major municipality governed by the PAN and its leaders continually complain that the state government starves them in terms of security resources].
The security situation in Torreon is so severe due to Moreira’s criminal negligence that the current PRI mayor remains unable to impose control. Recently Torreon was ranked the 19th most dangerous city in the world)
Under the immense pressure unleashed by the PRI hierarchy, Socrates Rizzo recanted his earlier statements in a radio interview the next day, stating that his words had been taken out of context. His new position was that the other parties the PRI negotiated with to maintain stability were other sectors of Mexican society and not the drug cartels.
Of course, politicians and leaders of the PAN and PRD political parties held Rizzo’s statements up as proof of the charges of collusion with organized crime that have circulated for decades.
In the words of one PAN national leader, Gustavo Madero Munoz, “A strong president is not one who strikes a deal with criminals that damage Mexican society, but one that faces them head on.”
“PAN presidents assumed their responsibility and the path of law, combating drug trafficking and organized crime head-on with the all the power of the law.”
Madero Munoz said that the statistics of deaths are higher in states governed by the PRI.
"There is a disturbing correlation between crime rates and PRI governed states. These states have the highest number of killings and the worst problems with their prisons”
This is the legacy of PRI rule in Mexico.
(The other two main political parties would be dishonest in claiming the moral high ground with regards to negotiating pacts with organized crime. There are allegations of links between the Sinaloa Cartel and Felipe Calderon and the PAN, and of La Familia Michoacana’s infiltration of the PRD state and municipal governments in Michoacan.)
Rechazan Priistas habe negociado…….
Presidentes Priistas controlaban al narco…..
Drug ties taint 2 Mexican Governors
En la gestion del huevo de la serpiente…..
El PRI no negocio con el narco
Feminicidio, los Expedientes Ocultos tras la Guerra contra el Narco y la Publicidad de Peña Nieto
Recula Sócrates Rizzo: priistas nunca pactaron con el narco
Tamaulipas encabeza secuestros……
PRI sigue negiciando…..
State Dept cable 09Monterrey251
Carta dirigada a Felipe Calderon
State Dept cable 09MONTERREY31