Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Narco and the Prez.

Last Friday (August, 10th) as a result of a joint operation with the FBI, the Spanish National Police announced in Madrid the arrest of 4 men, allegedly connected to the feared Sinaloa drug cartel. (See here in Spanish, here in English).

The men, suspected of being connected with a 373 Kg cocaine shipment confiscated by the police last July, were identified as Jesús Gutiérrez Guzmán, Rafael Humberto Celaya Valenzuela, Samuel Zazueta Valenzuela and Jesús Gonzalo Palazuelos Soto and are also wanted in the US for drug trafficking and money laundering.

The news initially attracted attention because Jesús Gutiérrez Guzmán is said to be a cousin of Sinaloa cartel big boss' Joaquín "Chapo"/"Shorty" Guzmán, attempting to expand family business into Europe.

However, the interest shifted to Celaya Valenzuela, after Mexican sources reported that:
"Rafael Humberto Celaya Valenzuela was appointed by [then centrist PRI presidential candidate, now president elect Enrique] Peña Nieto as PRI coordinator of federal candidates for San Luis Río Colorado municipality. He was a PRI pre-candidate for Congress for District One of Sonora state.
"He is a cousin of Víctor Hugo Celaya, an influential Sonora politician for San Luis Río Colorado, a municipality with strong organized crime presence"
. (See here, my translation from Spanish)
Below are two photographs from Celaya Valenzuela's Facebook, showing Celaya Valenzuela and then PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto attending electoral campaign events:

Peña Nieto (left), Celaya Valenzuela (Right),
in Mexico DF. [A]
Celaya Valenzuela [left, centre], Peña Nieto
[right, with hat] during the election campaign
launch in Sonora. [B]

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PRI has denied any links to Celaya Valenzuela, who, it's claimed, was never officially appointed coordinator. (See here, Spanish)

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Enrique Peña Nieto, who appears to enjoy the support of considerable business interests, was considered by The Economist as preferable to Left-winger Andrés Manuel López Obrador ("whose messianic character and disgraceful behaviour, after he narrowly lost in 2006 and declared war on the country's democratic institutions", for challenging the election results) and centre-right Josefina Vázquez Mota (who "has run a shambolic campaign").

Peña Nieto at the World Economic
Forum on Latin America (2010). [C]

According to The Guardian:
"Young, telegenic and impeccably smooth, Enrique Peña Nieto has helped the [PRI] party gloss over a reputation for corruption and periodic authoritarianism accrued over 71 uninterrupted years in power that ended in 2000 when it lost the presidency to the [centre-right] National Action party (PAN)." (See here)

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Although no direct links have been alleged to exist between Peña Nieto and the Sinaloa cartel, Latin American prominent politicians have been directly involved in drug trafficking. Manuel Noriega, de facto Panamanian head of state and government, comes to mind.

Image Credits:
[A] and [B] both Facebook images, hosted by El País.
[C] Peña Nieto at the World Economic Forum on Latin America (2010). Wikipedia. Image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Author World Economic Forum. My use of the image doesn't suggest the author's endorsement of said use.

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