By RICARDO CASTILLO
A request for an arrest warrant from Mexico’s Fiscal General against former Treasury and Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgaray Caso bounced by a federal judge last weekend and not only prevented a major scandal for Videgaray, but also reinforced the fact that the so-called “attorneys for the people” just cannot manage to put a viable case together.
The request was based on five charges: two for bribery, one for criminal association, one for an electoral crime and, as the cherry on the cake, one for treason against the nation.
Videgaray until recently was working as an information technology administration professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but in October, he disappeared from the Boston area and allegedly fled to Israel.
The one charge that struck a wrong chord with the appointed judge (name withheld for security reasons) was that of “treason,” which was described by the Fiscal General lawyers as pushing structural reforms through Congress “via bribes (to legislators) in order to subordinate the nation under foreign persons offering contracts for the exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons and oil.”
The judge threw out this charge for “lack of juridical sustainability” since it looked more like “a political appreciation,” which in the end does not mean, under any circumstances, a crime within the Constitution.
The charges stem out of previous charges filed by now-protected witness former Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) Director Emilio Lozoya Austin, who claimed that several payments made by Brazilian construction company Odebrecht were used to finance former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s 2012 electoral presidential campaign. Also, Lozoya Austin sad, part of the money was used to bribe deputies to vote for Peña Nieto’s Energy Reform.
Now the arrest warrant request is being rewritten by lawyers belonging to the Special Unite for Federal Crimes of the Fiscal General of the Republic, headed by Alejandro Gertz Manero.
Another issue that might have hampered the issuance of an arrest warrant was the infamous feud between Lozoya and Videgaray. Lozoya stayed on as Pemex director until 2016 and was dismissed for unknown reasons when news about the Odebrecht bribery case began to be leaked from Brazil.
Ironically, Videgaray was at the time removed by Peña Nieto on an unrelated issue. Videgaray organized a visit to Mexico from Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, and invited the then-U.S. Republican presidential candidate to Mexico.
For Trump, the meeting went great but for Peña Nieto, it was so disastrous that he could never recover. Peña Nieto’s popularity plummeted near ground zero. The reason was that Trump had deeply offended Mexicans at the time with slurs on their character, and Peña Nieto gave him a near-red carpet welcoming.
Videgaray, however, was later reinstated in Peña Nieto’s cabinet as foreign relations secretary, establishing a smooth relationship with the Trump administration.
Videgaray also managed to have Peña Nieto award the prestigious Aguila Azteca Medal to Jared Kushner for his efforts in promoting the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
On Tuesday, Nov. 3, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) sided with the judge’s decision to refuse to issue the arrest warrant, saying a judge has the right to determine whether a charge is made on solid grounds, and adding that the treason charge may have been at the crux of the rejection.
“That’s all I know about it,” AMLO said.
“But I would recommend that Videgaray show up at the Fiscal General’s Office because he who has nothing to hide, has nothing to fear.”
Notwithstanding, the president said that if the Fiscal General’s hounds continue their chase of Videgaray and former President Peña Nieto gets smeared with any of the overspill, his position continues to be that Mexican citizens shouldn’t judge former presidents “because we have no intention of damaging anyone. Revenge is not my forte, nor are we going to fabricate crimes.”
The fact of the matter is that the Fiscal General’s lawyers feel they have a case, and on Tuesday, Nov. 3, they again filed a suit with the judge to see if they could get the arrest warrant.
Should they get it, expect a major political scandal to break out the moment it is issued.
…Nov. 5, 2020