By RICARDO CASTILLO
The talk of the day in Mexico continues to be the arrests for trial of alleged Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) budget-sacking artists Emilio Lozoya Austin and José Antonio Yépez Ortiz. The first is accused of crooked moves as director of the national oil company ,and the second actually is said to have called himself “owner” of the Pemex-owned Salamanca refinery.
Lozoya Austin managed to do well for himself – if being under house arrest with a detection bracelet on your ankle can be considered “well” – on probable charges of money laundering, embezzlement, derelict association and bribery. His trial is the cause celébrè in Mexican politics because, if it moves ahead the way Fiscal General of the Republic Alejandro Gertz Manero wants it to, Lozoya Austin will go down hard, taking with him some heavy duty fat cats from the administration of former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto (some names below).
Meanwhile, Yépez Ortiz has not been graced by the same privileges as Lozoya Austin. Immediately after his arrest on Sunday, Aug. 2, by the Mexican Army, the National Guard and a limited number of Guanajuato Judicial police officers, he was interned in Guanajuato’s penitentiary, and after facing charges – he was caught red-handed – for kidnapping a wealthy woman from Apaseo El Grande municipality, he was moved to the high-security Altiplano prison in the State of Mexico.
He now faces charges for being the leader of a Guanajuato criminal organization, fuel theft from the Salamanca refinery, drug trafficking, kidnapping, extortion and murder (add a few more crimes, if you like). Since his arrest, there have been a surge of murders n the state of Guanajuato, including of elderly women and children, and all were signed by Yépez’s hitmen.
Now, if you have ever noticed social class differences in Mexico, these two arrests just go to underscore them.
Lozoya Austin comes with a political pedigree, from that group of people that under the one-party rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was known as “the political aristocracy.” He has a degree in economics from the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM), a law degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and a public administration Masters from Harvard.
His father, Emilio Lozoya Thalmann, was a prominent PRI member and energy secretary under President Carlos Salinas de Gortari.
In fact, Emilio Senior was the man who rescued his little boy gone politically awry and negotiated his settlement in exchange for information that will lead other alleged culprits in government to possible trials.
Names include his schoolmate at ITAM and former Treasury and Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgaray, and Energy Secretary under Peña Nieto, Pedro Joaquin Coldwell, who had to approve all the crooked deals Emilio Junior is accused of carrying out.
On the other hand, Yépez Ortiz was born in the farming hamlet San Antonio de los Morales, near the Cleaya industrial and agribusiness hub, both places in the state of Guanajuato. He is known as “El Marro” or “the Sledgehammer.” He is a graduate of the invented high school “leperatoria,” in Mexican slang meaning “Dirty Mouth College” (or School of Hard Knocks). However, his criminal aptitude led him to operate the thieving gang of Santa Rosa de Lima, which during the last year of the Peña Nieto administration (2018), stole an average of 66 billion pesos from the Salamanca refinery alone to run a black market gasoline sale.
By no means could you consider this pair as two of a kind. And, yet, they stand accused of some of the same crimes, and, indeed, are birds of a feather.
The difference is that Lozoya Austin is accused of so-called white collar crimes, and Yepez Ortíz’s crimes cover a gamut of the banditry dictionary from a to z.
Proceedings are slated to begin on Tuesday, Aug. 11, when El Marro will be fully arraigned with a laundry list of wrongdoings by the appointed judge at the El Altiplano prison.
Then, we will see the differences between being slapped on the wrist – even if with a security personal detection bracelet – as Lozoya Austin was, and getting the book thrown at you, as should be in the Yepes case.
The one blatant fact is that there will be no turning back for these two trials, even if they are of huachicoleros, Pemex thieves, who should be equal under the law but are clearly not, since Emilio Senior used all of his political clout and remaining power to have Junior enjoy house arrest.
Equality under the law in Mexico? You bet not.
But the good news is that with poverty looming over the entire nation due to covid-19, rampant unemployment and stiff lockdowns, we are all prisoners too, and at least there will be circus to keep us entertained.
,,,Aug. 11, 2020