- LOS AMIGOS DE BUSH
- "Dime con quién andas y te diré quién
eres. Tell me who you side with and I will tell you who you are."
- "George W. Bush for President" web site
- Those who say that George W. Bush has scant knowledge
of foreign affairs don't understand his family's relationship with Mexico.
- If one event could be said to make that relationship
visible, it had to be the state dinner given eleven years ago by President
Bush for Mexico's president, Carlos Salinas. It was an elegant yet boisterous
gala, where the biggest movers and shakers in Texas and Mexico congregated
and celebrated. This group was to become W's Mexican legacy, a gift of
ties and connections passed on from the father to his son.
- What was not visible was that the group included two
men with numerous links to drug cartel figures. These men helped George
W. Bush win the Latino vote in Texas. Which raises a few questions: How
did these guys get into the Bush circle? What else do they do for him?
And, to rephrase a famous query, what did the presidential candidate know
and when did he know it?
- A glance around the fourteen tables at the 1989 dinner
showed that pains were taken to arrange them so that no one appeared more
important than the others. There was a smattering of celebrities - Anthony
Quinn, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Barbara Walters and Larry King. Bush's son
Jeb and his Mexican wife Columba joined the soirée, too.
- The Mexican president had spent a long day with President
Bush signing trade pacts, the precursors of NAFTA. Salinas brought his
so-called Dream Team: his commerce secretary, finance minister, and his
personal Machiavelli, Jose Córdoba. It would later be astounding
to see, as the decade unfolded, how many of that administration's proud
men and women fell shamefully from grace - some exiled, some imprisoned
and some assassinated.
- No one knew it then, but many at that banquet would survive
to one day help young W beat a path back to the White House. There were
loyal "Bushfellas" who were old friends of the family: Commerce
Secretary Robert Mosbacher Sr., General Colin Powell, and George Bush Senior's
ever-present friend, Secretary of State James Baker. Gary Jacobs, whose
Texas bank was about to be bought by the son of Mexico's billionaire-politico
Carlos Hank González, was also a guest. Tony Garza, then a young
judge, is now a Bush cabinet contender. Today, all are advisors or contributors
to W's campaign.
- Hidden among the glitterati were two relative unknowns.
They were, however, familiar to the group at hand. They were the loyal
"Amigos de Bush" from San Antonio: criminal defense lawyer Roy
Barrera Jr. and car dealer Ernesto Ancira Jr. In contrast to the Salinas
group, the ties of Barrera and Ancira to drug cartels would remain unnoticed
for another decade. Their ties to George W. would grow stronger.
- In the Name of the Father
- George Bush Sr. began his family's relationship with
Mexico in the 1960s, when his Zapata Offshore Oil Company was partner in
a border-region oil company called Perforaciones Marinas del Golfo (Permargo),
with Jorge Díaz Serrano.
- In 1988, the financial newspaper Barron's reported that
the two Jorges - Bush and Díaz Serrano - used prestanombres ("name-lenders")
to hide Bush's investment in Permargo from the Mexican government, skirting
Mexican foreign-ownership laws. Barron's also accused the Securities and
Exchange Commission of destroying related documents after Bush became vice
president in 1981.
- Bush Sr. met Carlos Salinas's father, Raúl Salinas
Lozano, back when the latter was Mexico's commerce secretary. The families'
friendship has continued through the years. Raúl Salinas, the president's
brother, has told investigators that Jeb and Columba Bush joined him three
times for vacations at his hacienda Las Mendocinas. It was the same estate
where he reportedly hosted an infamous 1990 party for the cream of Mexico's
drug cartels, which Jeb and Columba did not attend.
- Twelve years ago presidents-elect Carlos Salinas de Gortari
and George Bush Sr. met in Texas in a meeting that was called "The
Spirit of Houston."
- "That meeting shaped the relationship between both
countries for years to come," Antonio Ocarranza, former Zedillo aide
and president of the consulting firm Public Strategies Inc.(PSI) office
in Mexico City told the Dallas Morning News. PSI is owned by several generous
George W. Bush supporters, including Bush pioneer Roger Wallace.
- Today, as governor of Texas, George W. Bush has assumed
the role his father once had as president. He meets regularly with Mexican
officials, from President Zedillo to Secretary of Energy Luis Téllez,
to discuss joint energy pacts and trade issues.
- "I've had foreign policy as the governor of Texas,
and that is with Mexico," George W. Bush said during the New Hampshire
- While he is in public shaking hands, Bush's friend Ernesto
Ancira works backstage in the international energy sector. Which comes
naturally: Ancira's family and their partners practically own the energy
business in Mexico. The Bushes, of course, know everyone in the oil business
in the US. It's a nice match, the Bushes and the Anciras.
- Let me make one thing clear: there is no evidence that
Ernesto himself runs afoul of the law. Ancira is, rather, a point man in
what Mexican journalist Juan Ruiz Healy calls "El Grupo Texano de
George W. Bush." He happens to have quite a few friends who are connected
with drug cartels. In addition, there are some disturbing links between
Ernesto's group of friends in San Antonio and the assassination of Mexican
politician José Francisco Ruíz Massieu. Since Ernesto has
been a friend and a helper to the man who may be president, I believe they
are connections worth exploring.
- "ERNESTO IS VERY FRIENDLY, very fun-loving,"
a real estate agent told me as we cruised Ernie Ancira's turf, "The
Dominion," a securely-gated San Antonio development where a number
of Mexico's elite have invested in million-dollar homes.
- Ernie, she said, loves to barbecue. Has money. Likes
- Ernie - auto dealer Ernesto Ancira, Jr. - is one of San
Antonio's most popular and respected business leaders. Every year, he's
in the lists of top Latino entrepreneurs. Last April, his Ancira Enterprises
Inc. made the number two slot - with $575 million in revenue - in Hispanic
magazine's list of the fastest-growing Latino companies.
- "My mother was paranoid about her kids' success,"
he once said. "It's like there was a tremendous hurry to accomplish."
- Truly a binational man, Ernesto Ancira Jr., was born
in San Antonio in 1944, but spent his formative years close to his industrialist
cousins in Mexico, who are in-laws of the Salinas family. In the 1960s
he rose to become the top assistant to his mentor, Claudio X. González,
one of the country's most powerful businessmen. González later became
President Salinas's foreign investment advisor.
- Ancira's family in Mexico has long been part of the power
elite. The Ancira name is prominent in the city of Monterrey; that northern
commercial center's most elegant old hotel bears the name of Hotel Ancira.
- But in the 1970s, the Ancira family ran into problems
back in Texas. Ernie's father was implicated in a money laundering scandal
at his company, San Antonio Foreign Exchange. The elder Ancira moved back
to Mexico, but there he was named by US authorities as a participant in
an $8 million tax fraud scheme.
- Ernie Junior, however, chose to return to Texas and prosper.
In San Antonio, he hooked up with an ex-FBI agent and former city manager,
Ralph Winton, and in 1972 they started a used car business together. Within
a scant six years, Ancira bought out his partner, and Ancira Winton Chevrolet
was earning $150 million and growing.
- Ernesto became a civic leader and a Republican heavyweight.
He chaired the Alamo Bowl and still heads the Southwestern Bell PGA Golf
Tournament. He was LULAC's 1987 Empresario of the Year, and he received
a MALDEF Corporate Responsibility Award the same year.
- And he met the Bushes. He co-chaired "Adelante con
Bush" when George Senior ran for president, and along the way, he
befriended George W. He is one of the folks George W. Bush's people call
his "100 closest friends," a group that kicked off W's presidential
campaign last year with $1000 donations.
- Ancira learned to schmooze with politicians big and small,
sometimes annoying local Republicans when he supported an occasional Democrat.
He paid for a 1994 trip for Congressman Henry Bonilla to meet Mexican officials
in Ciudad Victoria. Twice he bestowed travel gifts on Bush's Commerce Secretary
Robert Mosbacher, Sr. He reportedly piloted his Cessna to host airborne
meetings so that Mosbacher and his Mexican counterpart, Jaime Serra, could
privately discuss NAFTA. Young Ernie was a millionaire, a friend of the
Bushes, and he was literally flying high. His family - movers and shakers
all - would have expected no less.
- Early Cartel Connections
- As he developed business and political contacts, Ernesto
Ancira also cultivated friendships with men connected to Mexican drug cartels.
One of the first was financier Guillermo Ávila.
- As early as 1987, Ávila was part of an Ernesto
Ancira troika, a flashy threesome-about-town starring Ancira, Ávila
and developer Gustavo García. The three were often seen together
in San Antonio in the late 1980s, until Ávila and his partners were
busted for drug money laundering.
- Ernesto wrote to the US Attorney in the case and said
that Ávila was a "responsible individual" who had a "positive
impact on our community." Their kids even went to the same private
- But Ávila and his partners had transferred $500,000
of supposed drug money - provided by a law enforcement sting - in and out
of accounts in the US, Mexico, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin
Islands. In addition, Ávila owned an El Paso house that was raided
in connection with the seizure of 21 tons of cocaine from his brother-in-law's
Sylmar, California warehouse, an all-time international record. The Juarez
cartel's Carlos Tapia Anchondo was living in Ávila's home, and the
drugs belonged to one of the cartel's top men, Rafael Muñoz Talavera.
- When he entered the courtroom, Ávila winked at
friends and family. But when the prosecutors played tapes of the defendants
accepting "dirty" money, the party was over.
- Ávila was found guilty of conspiracy to launder
monetary instruments on behalf of drug traffickers. Incredibly, he served
a little over a year in prison. Afterward, he was banished from the US
and moved to San Luis Potosí. The boss, Rafael Muñoz Talavera,
was gunned down on a Juarez street in 1998.
- Ávila got off easy. He could credit his astute
attorney, Roy Barrera Sr., whose son and partner Roy Jr. was a guest of
the Bushes at the White House dinner. "Little Roy" is now a top-notch
trial lawyer and a close Bush advisor.
- Though Roy Senior is a Democrat, Little Roy is a staunch
Republican who has been in the trenches with W and Ernesto Ancira ever
since they all campaigned for President Bush in the late 1980s, under the
banner of "Adelante con Bush."
- It was during those campaign years that George Junior
bonded with many of his Latino allies in the state and made the friends
he would later lean on when his political ambitions got into gear. By and
large, the Latino alliances Bush touts so loudly these days are not social
workers or school teachers, and they are certainly not working-class. Like
most in W's circle, they are Texas heavy-hitters who got rich from their
astute blending of business and politics.
- Barrera Jr. quickly got close to the Bush family, and
has stayed close. Both Bushes campaigned for him when he ran for state
attorney general in 1986. In '88, he was part of a group of eight Bush
allies called the "Victory Squad." During the president's 1992
campaign, Little Roy and Barbara Bush even teamed up and drove a mobile
home from Austin to San Antonio to stump for the candidate. That same year,
Barrera became head of the Bexar County (San Antonio) Republican party
and has chaired it ever since.
- Once one of the youngest judges in Texas, Roy now fancies
himself as Bush's right arm. He recently passed business cards around at
a national conference of credit unions, saying that he represented the
governor's office. Last winter, Barrera braved the ice with W to knock
on New Hampshire doors before the primary, and this summer he was one of
the few Latino delegates at the Republican National Convention.
- Ernie Ancira was among the friends and fans at Roy Jr.'s
fortieth birthday bash at San Antonio's Macaroni Grill, reported in detail
by the San Antonio Express News. The group took turns roasting each other:
handsome, charismatic Ernie almost stole the show from Roy. He was jokingly
named "the new wet dream of the Republican party, Otto von Ancira,"
by Republican Judge Tom Rickhoff. Roy and Ernie, both good-looking, became
hot young GOP legends. They were touted as part of the "Republican
Comeback," said to embody the New Republican: young, wealthy and Hispanic.
- But old ghosts have repeatedly blocked the course of
Little Roy's political life. During Barrera's ill-fated 1986 attorney general's
race, Vice President Bush hailed him as an "outstanding young Texan,"
and said Barrera would "stand up to the drug pushers in our schools
and in our state."
- But the fact is, Roy has earned a slice of his income
from the drug pushers' bosses, and he's done a decent job of keeping them
out of prison, too. The Barreras, father and son, have a unique distinction:
they are among Texas's best narco-lawyers.
- And we're not talking school-yard pushers. Along with
Corpus Christi attorney Tony Canales, the two Barreras represent the cream
of criminals from Mexican cartels when they have the bad fortune to get
dragged before US courts.
- Among the choice clients the Barreras have defended are
the Juárez cartel's US "coordinator" Juan Chapa Garza
(now serving thirty years for drug trafficking and money laundering), and
Mario Alberto Salinas Treviño, a cocaine runner and alleged murderer,
whom the FBI also links to the 1985 murder of Drug Enforcement Administration
(DEA) agent Enrique Camarena. But there is one Barrera client who stands
out as the most fantastic and treacherous of all: the "consigliero"
of the Gulf cartel, Enrique Fuentes León.
- "There are going to be more deaths, eh?"
- Fuentes León, the cartel's lawyer arrived in San
Antonio in 1991, a time when, financially and politically, the Anciras
were on top of the world. They were building their empire in Mexico under
Salinas and in Texas under the Bushes.
- Enrique Fuentes León joined the Ancira and Gus
García troika, replacing the now-exiled Ávila.
- It was during this time that Ernesto and his cousins
began to invest in luxury real estate, and the others - the Mexican industrial
elite - joined him. Ernesto got in on the new gated golf course development
north of San Antonio, The Dominion, where Guillermo Ávila once sat
on the board, and Ernie still sits.
- Behind the imposing stone arch, the Ancira family's neighbors
are a who's who of Mexico's corporate and government power structure. The
Zambrano-Treviños of the giant cement firm CEMEX bought property
there, as did the head of Mexico's Hotel-Motel Association and half a dozen
other big shots. Many of them paid cash. Even the new President of Mexico's
brother, Rodolfo Zedillo, bought his Dominion house for cash in October
1994, right around the time he started an $8 million business deal funded
by the Juárez cartel.
- But by far the biggest piece of acreage in Dominion was
bought by Enrique Fuentes León, a fugitive sought in Mexico for
bribing judges on behalf of a rich Acapulco playboy who raped, tortured
and killed a six-year old girl. Fuentes León fled to Chile, then
Argentina. Then he arrived in Texas with a visa that said he was an investor.
- Invest he did. Fuentes León bought some one hundred-plus
acres in Dominion in the early 90s, and he soon acquired over $6 million
in San Antonio real estate.
- The DEA reportedly grew interested in him when he represented
Gulf "capo" Juan García Ábrego in a Matamoros trial.
Though he was still wanted in Mexico, Fuentes León somehow traveled
in and out of the country often, using brand-new Mexican passports. A law
enforcement investigator in charge of Fuentes León's arrest told
me that Ancira sometimes flew Fuentes León in his private plane,
but Ancira says he never met him.
- The investing continued. In 1993, Fuentes León,
and a group of investors attempted to purchase the San Antonio Light newspaper,
but the Hearst Corporation - or perhaps the Justice Department, which usually
looks into major newspaper sales - never accepted the offers. Fuentes León
did buy the popular disco Planeta Mexico owned by Ancira's friend in the
energy sector, Rogelio Gasca Jr. A new partner, Manuel Pacheco, came in
on the deal but was later arrested and given a fifteen-year sentence for
- With his visa about to expire, Fuentes León made
fruitless pleas to America's high and mighty - including George W. Bush,
who called his father, the president, on Fuentes León's behalf (see
El Andar Winter '99). Fuentes León was finally arrested, and attempted
bribery and drug money-laundering charges were ready to be filed against
- The Barreras took the case.
- At the hearing, a remarkable tape was played, recorded
while Fuentes León arranged to bribe an undercover INS agent. The
tape was made in the summer of 1994, a few months after the assassination
of presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio. Fuentes León bragged
that his son Enrique, also a lawyer, was "one of Zedillo's people."
In a moment of bravado, Fuentes León told the INS agent, "I
know how they killed Colosio." And he said something even more chilling:
"In the end, in August... there are going to be deaths and all that
shit, eh? ... There are going to be more deaths."
- And so it was: José Francisco Ruíz Massieu,
the Guerrero governor who had wanted Fuentes León to face charges
in Mexico, was assassinated soon after. El Financiero columnist Jorge Fernández
reported that Ruíz Massieu was scheduled to be killed in August,
but because of a problem with one of the would-be hit men, the event actually
took place in September.
- Raúl Salinas, the president's brother, was eventually
convicted for authoring the murder. Immigration and Naturalization Service
(INS) agents insisted that another man wanted for orchestrating the assassination's
logistics was with Fuentes León moments before his arrest in San
Antonio. The man, Manuel Muñoz Rocha, simply walked away, because
at the time the agents didn't know he was a fugitive with a $1 million
price on his head. The INS official in charge of the arrest, Gary Renick,
says that all three agents who were present separately identified Muñoz
Rocha from photos. Now retired, Renick still says he is convinced that
Muñoz Rocha was present at Fuentes León's arrest.
- An employee of Fuentes León then testified she
overheard her boss talking with a man she was sure was Ernesto Ancira's
friend Gustavo García, just a few days after the murder occurred.
The employee said that she believes she heard the men talk about the murder
and she is sure that they said they needed to send more money to "Muñoz."
- The DEA has reportedly found that a top drug enforcement
officer on the Gulf cartel payroll met with Fuentes León and Muñoz
Rocha in a "city in the United States" a few weeks before the
killing. And an FBI report noted that one witness told agents that Fuentes
León "has a lot of information about Ruiz Massieu."
- Manuel Muñoz Rocha disappeared at the very moment
of Fuentes León's arrest, and was never officially seen again. But
one curious footnote to his San Antonio stay lingers: Muñoz Rocha's
visa, which he used to enter and leave the US a few weeks before and after
Ruiz Massieu's assassination, listed a conspicuous address: "The Dominion,
- Gus García: The Third Man
- With the third member of Ancira's San Antonio troika,
developer Gustavo García, the Grupo Texano became a multinational
- García has been under investigation by the DEA
for cocaine trafficking in Florida and Venezuela, and by local police for
money laundering in San Antonio. He has not been charged.
- He's head of the Brita water purification franchise in
Mexico, and he owns around a hundred million dollars' worth of San Antonio
real estate along with his partner, Lebanese-Mexican businessman Anuar
Name (pronounced nah-may).
- The only visible sign of Name's presence in San Antonio
is the gleaming office tower he and Gus García own together. The
Mercantile building is an impressive, mirrored ribbon of a building, and
García wanted to buy it for several years but couldn't come up with
the money. Then, after a lengthy trip to Mexico, he returned victorious,
representing Anuar Name, a multi-million-dollar financier of the Salinas
- Name, too, had blemishes on his reputation, but they
weren't well-known. Newspapers reported that Name co-owned a Tijuana disco
together with a member of the Caro-Quintero drug cartel of Sonora. Name
is also an associate of Egyptian arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, a friend
of Raúl Salinas, and a partner of PRI king-maker Carlos Hank González,
whose family has been investigated in the US, Costa Rica and Mexico for
links to drug cartels, murder and money laundering (See El Andar Summer/Fall
- García bought the Mercantile building for Anuar
Name in February 1992 for $5 million - in cash. "I have some major
tenants looking at it," García told reporters. Soon after,
Name's friends the Hank family moved in, leasing the entire ground floor
for Carlos Hank Jr.'s Laredo National Bank. There, too, Ernesto Ancira
installed campaign headquarters for his 1992 run for Texas State Senator.
- Anuar Name's circle also includes Joseph Audi, of the
Lebanese Bank Audi, a "private, personal bank" with branches
in Beirut, Geneva, Paris, Luxembourg and New York that has been involved
in a multi-million dollar arms running and money-laundering scandal. The
bank was not charged, but a $6 million account was frozen and one of its
depositors was charged with arms running and money laundering.
- In late 1993 and early 1994, Name and García re-financed
their building several times over (for $1 to $5 million each time), a large
part of which came from none other than Name's friendly neighborhood banker,
- But Bank Audi has a more auspicious claim to fame: its
Geneva branch was the issuing bank of a $599,985 payment that made its
way through several banks until it landed in an account belonging to Manuel
Muñoz Rocha and a hit man convicted in the assault that killed Jose
Francisco Ruiz Massieu.
- Investigators have never determined who owned that original
account in Bank Audi.
- The Amigos de Bush
- Ernie and Roy Barrera campaigned for President Bush in
1992, and they celebrated what looked like an easy re-election with George
W at a "Super Tuesday" rally for the Texas primary. Ancira also
thought he was a shoo-in in his run for the state senate, especially when
both Bushes came out to campaign for him. George W. optimistically greeted
Ernie as "Mr. Senator" well before the election took place.
- But Ernesto and President Bush lost on the same depressing
day in November, 1992 - Ancira lost the state senate and Bush, the presidency
of the United States.
- 1994 was a turbulent year for the Grupo Texano. Things
happened quickly, and so dramatically that the scene was brutal, intoxicating.
NAFTA, the jewel in the crown of all involved, from Salinas to the Bushes
to Mosbacher to the Anciras, became reality on January first. The same
day, Zapatista rebels declared war on the Mexican government, followed
by bloody massacres and international outcry. By fall Mexico had suffered
the assassinations of Colosio and Ruiz Massieu. Ernesto Zedillo - a Yale
man just like the Bushes - was elected President. Then the peso collapsed.
Lucky for them, most of Mexico's wealthy class had already put their money
into dollar-based investments - such as San Antonio real estate. So things
were looking up, especially after George W. was elected.
- The Bush for Governor campaign was easy. The Amigos de
Bush - W's Latino support group - rallied heavily for their man. Bush's
people were elated that he had garnered 29 percent of the Latino vote,
approaching the record 38 percent Roy Barrera had earned in his bid for
state attorney general. Back in that 1986 race, both Bushes had stumped
for Barrera, holding "Voy Con Roy" barbecue fundraisers and rallies.
In '94, Roy was more than happy to return the favor and celebrate George
W's victory, and especially his coup with the Hispanic vote. After all,
Roy and the "Amigos" helped him win it.
- Ancira, another "Amigo de Bush," was feeling
good, too. He was rewarded with two Bush appointments: first to the Texas
State Workers Comp Board, then to a coveted advisory board position at
the University of Texas School of Business. George W.'s influential friend
James Leininger gave Ernie a board position in his new conservative think
tank, the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
- Almost immediately, Governor Bush had to tackle a problem
presented by Ernesto's young cousins from Mexico. The Anciras had teamed
up with an old school chum, pharmaceutical heir Xavier Autrey, during President
Salinas's privatization free-for-all of the late 1980s. The "A"
kids maneuvered six million dollars of other peoples' money into billions,
buying up mining and energy companies, as well as Mexico's largest steel
company, Altos Hornos de Mexico (AHMSA). Soon their companies were accused
of being fronts for the drug trade, and were described as such by analyst
R.C. Whalen at a 1993 US congressional hearing. Together with a secretive
binational strip-mining operation called Dos Republicas, the Anciras tried
to get a Tex-Mex energy deal going by re-vamping a decrepit coal-burning
power plant on the border, named Carbon II. They convinced the World Bank,
Citibank and Southern California Edison to invest over $250 million in
the project. It was a disaster.
- The Anciras' reputation sank as fast as a rust-eaten
bucket, and partners and investors began to look for ways out. The Ancira
family was accused by shareholders of wasting extraordinary amounts of
money on corporate jets, limousines and other luxuries. Not to mention
their extensive purchases of San Antonio real estate. Just last year, while
the company amassed nearly $2 billion in debt and had to suspend payments,
the Anciras began quietly moving property titles to Cayman Island holding
companies, with the help of their front man Marcelo Sánchez.
- Carbon II should have been the kind of project Governor
Bush would have embraced: a model energy venture between Mexico and the
US. But as environmentalists' complaints about air pollution grew louder,
Bush's comments grew guarded. By the time of the project's final demise
in 1995 - due to mismanagement as well as the fact that its approval by
Salinas had been blatantly illegal - Bush was given credit for heeding
- By the time his 1998 re-election rolled around, W was
already said to be working on his run for the White House, and in Texas
he once again relied on the Latino vote. He was also working to strengthen
energy ties with Mexico. That fall, he held a press conference with Mexico's
Secretary of Energy Luis Téllez. Together they promised a new era
in which Texas and Mexico would essentially erase the border and create
a "common market" for gas and electricity production and consumption,
as well as an integrated electrical network.
- One month later, with help from the Amigos de Bush, George
W. surpassed Roy Barrera's record and pulled in a hefty 39 to 49 percent
of the Latino vote. He won in a landslide. He was already counting on the
Republican presidential nomination.
- Still Running with Wolves
- It's been a wild ride since the 1989 White House dinner.
Bush Sr. lost the presidency, and he and his wife Barbara are now campaigning
for their son. Carlos Salinas is self-exiled in Ireland and Cuba. His brother
Raúl is in prison.
- This year, Roy Barrera Jr. is on the campaign trail with
W. He has "rumbled," say the papers, about running for governor.
But the shadow of past relationships continues to haunt him.
- Last year, Barrera Jr. landed in the hot seat. He represented
millionaire Allan Blackthorne after the contract-style murder of Blackthorne's
ex-wife, Sheila Bellush. The case made national headlines because Bellush
was stabbed to death in front of her toddler quadruplets, and they crawled
in her blood until they were found.
- The hit man, José Del Toro, fled to Mexico and
was represented by none other than Barrera's old Gulf cartel client, the
prestigious office of Enrique Fuentes León. Barrera was dropped
as Blackthorne's lawyer, and the US Justice Department began investigating
who paid Del Toro's presumably high-priced legal bills. Del Toro said,
in a taped interview, that he was told by his U.S. lawyer that Barrera
had hired Fuentes León. Roy's father admits that the Barreras and
the Fuentes León family have remained close through the years. The
Justice Department's findings have not been revealed.
- Roy Barrera, however, is rumored in the press to be hoping
for a ride with W. to Washington, his eye on a cabinet position. Bush aides
say it's premature to talk about it, but Texas is all a-buzz with murmurs.
- ERNESTO ANCIRA'S car dealership is expected to top $600
million in sales this year. Ancira was one of the first to donate to Bush's
presidential exploratory committee, but lately has remained behind the
scenes. Surprisingly, the Republic National Committee and Bush campaign
people in charge of Hispanic outreach say they've never heard of Ancira.
"He must be very grass roots," a spokesperson told me.
- Well, not exactly.
- Ernie can't stop getting involved with guys who get in
trouble. He's now one of the "heavy hitters" paying $1,000 each
to host a September fundraiser for State Senator Frank Madla, who is under
investigation by a federal grand jury. Apparently Madla accepted inappropriate
favors from Eddie "The Bingo King" García, murdered in
1998 in what prosecutors called a contract hit.
- The Ancira name surfaced again in August when former
Mexico City mayor Oscar Espinosa became a fugitive, under an arrest warrant
for embezzling $45 million of the people's money. Mexican newspapers reported
he was last seen under the protection of armed guards, provided by the
Anciras in their company town in Coahuila.
- Gus García's patron Anuar Name has been named
by Mexican law enforcement as the business partner of a ex-governor running
from charges of taking Juárez cartel payoffs.
- RIGHT AFTER MEXICO'S July elections, some members of
the winning PAN party have clamored for the country to re-open investigations
into the assassination of Ruiz Massieu and Muñoz Rocha's activities
in San Antonio. Private investigator J. Alberto Villasana told the PAN
president in a July 15 letter, "I believe that since Fox and the PAN
have won, we should be aware of a very delicate matter: we will soon be
facing binational criminal groups to which the previous administrations
have been accomplices."
- In Mexico today, there is a changing of the guard. But
president-elect Vicente Fox has made it clear that the trend toward massive
privatization of industries will continue at full speed - even Robert Mosbacher
has hinted he'd like the national oil company Pemex to hurry up and privatize,
and he might like a job there, too.
- If he is elected, Bush has promised there will be a "special
relationship" with Mexico. In his family, the special relationship
has long been there.
- So - goes the logic - if Ernie has a few unpleasant friends
and partners, what of it? Ditto for Bush's self-proclaimed "representative,"
Roy Barrera. As long as he hasn't touched the dirty goods himself, Bush
has been able to benefit from these men's vote-winning and trade-promoting
influence. Does this make Bush guilty by association? If he didn't know
about their cartel connections, probably not. (I called his campaign office
and asked if the Governor knew about these relationships, and did not receive
a response by press time.) But the question has to be asked: if some of
us far outside of the Bush camp know about those connections, how come
- George W. Bush has made his lust for the Latino vote
clear. "If you say a million, I want you to spend two million. If
you say you need four million, I want you to spend eight," W told
Lionel Sosa, head of the Bush Latino media campaigns.
- What is not clear is who Bush will be willing to consort
with to earn that vote. And, if he wins the presidency, what is the true
nature of the special relationship he will forge between our two nations,
the US and Mexico, in the coming years?
- Julia Reynolds is the editorial director of El Andar.