OPINION

Mexican businessman José María Riobóo. Photo: Google

By KELIN DILLON

In a move eerily similar to the controversial intra-family imprisonment scheme implemented by Mexican Attorney General Alejandro Gertz Manero, Mexican businessman José María Riobóo – who is notably married to Supreme Court Justice of the Nation (SCJN) Minister Yasmín Esquivel, who is currently undergoing a public scandal of her own – ordered the arrest of his daughter-in-law, María Isabel Cal y Mayor, for her purported role in the death of Riobóo’s son, Rodrigo Riobóo Talayero, in March 2019.

Riobóo Talayero passed away at the age of 39 in Cádiz, Spain, due to respiratory failure, infection and severe sepsis, according to his death certificate. While the coroner’s report made no mention of foul play, Riobóo claimed his son’s death was caused by unhealthy habits his wife introduced him to when they married in 2011, including smoking tobacco, imbibing alcoholic beverages and consuming “unhealthy food.”

Riobóo also claimed Cal y Mayor failed to properly administer prescribed psychiatric medication to his son, and that she had a “precalculated” and “sophisticated” plan to lead to Riobóo Talayero’s death – a course of action Riobóo claims was followed by Cal y Mayor for the explicit purpose of inheriting all of the deceased’s property and assets upon his passing.

Likewise alleging that Cal y Mayor spent up to 15 million pesos of his son’s money between 2013 and 2019, Riobóo managed to receive an arrest warrant against his daughter-in-law from the Mexico City’s Prosecutor’s Office and facilitated the freezing of Cal y Mayor’s bank accounts by Mexico’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). 

Riobóo then went on to shape a formal investigation into Cal y Mayor’s lawyers by the national FGR, and further attempted to sway influence against his daughter-in-law on the international scene by demanding her extradition from Spain to Mexico by the Spanish government – something the National Court of Madrid swiftly denied, saying there is no indication that Cal y Mayor contributed in any way to her husband’s death, intentionally or otherwise.

However, when Cal y Mayor went to reciprocate litigation in the Mexican court of law, she was stonewalled away from any course forward – unsurprising, given her father-in-law’s connections. As a result, Riobóo deemed the rightful inheritance of his son’s estate, which was valued at over 77 million pesos, by the Mexican justice system, in spite of the fact that Cal y Mayor was named the estate’s sole heir in her husband’s will.

Cal y Mayor recently spoke out about the case, claiming that Riobóo’s influence in Mexico and his marriage to a SCJN justice has unfairly swayed the justice system against her.

“A fact that I want to highlight and that is not a minor matter, is that my husband’s father, Mr. José María Riobóo Martín, is married to Yasmín Esquivel Mossa, who is currently a justice of the SCJN, which has made it difficult for the Mexican judicial system to operate impartially in my case. That is, it is very likely that there is a conflict of interest,” said Cal y Mayor.

“My husband’s father, who was not not even present to see him at his burial, fabricated a crime in collusion with Mexican authorities,” Cal y Mayor also claimed in a filing to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Riobóo’s close friendship with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) is also likely to influence the opinion against Cal y Mayor, as the Mexican executive once again came to his associate’s – who is also his presidential advisor on the Felipe Ángeles International Airport project – defense during his daily morning press conference on Monday, Jan. 16.

“He is a great engineer, a professional, one of the most important structuralists in the country,” said AMLO at the time. “We come back to the same thing, vulgar, tendentious, tabloid journalism that does not learn that there cannot be text without context.”

“They don’t take anything into account, it’s destroying his prestige, putting an end to someone who, in this case, has a relationship with a public servant,” added López Obrador about Riobóo’s relationship with Esquivel.

The Riobóo case has become widely reminiscent of his friend Gertz Manero’s own jailing of his niece, who was accused by the FGR as being complicit in the death of Gertz Manero’s brother due to abandonment, despite medical records showing he died of old age. Gertz Manero managed to leverage his power as attorney general to obtain arrest warrants against his niece and sister-in-law, which the family claims was an abuse of power made in an attempt to steal his brother’s assets post-mortem. 

After years of scandal, the case between Gertz Manero and his family still remains unresolved – and thus, Gertz Manero remains free with impunity for illegally exercising his influence as FGR to his own benefit.

While Riobóo’s hopes to imprison his daughter-in-law a la Gertz Manero are altogether unobtainable without the consent of the Spanish government, with the FGR, the SCJN and the Federal Executive in his back pocket, Riobóo is seemingly set to get away with murder – or, financially reap the benefits of accusing someone else of murder, that is – in Mexico.

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