Things That Matter

Peña Nieto Has Been Accused Of Taking A $100 Million Bribe From El Chapo Before Taking Office

In the latest chapter in the trail of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, a witness said the drug kingpin paid a $100 million bribe to former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. The shocking testimony came from Guzman’s former “right-hand man” Alex Cifuentes who claims the payment took place two months before Peña Nieto became the president of Mexico in 2012. According to the New York Times, Cifuentes worked closely with El Chapo from 2007 to 2013.

Alex Cifuentes, who worked closely with El Chapo, told a Brooklyn court that the former Mexican president had originally asked for $250 million.

The allegations of corruption against the Mexican government are nothing new as Peña Nieto left office last year with a string of scandals that left him and his administration with low-approval ratings. While Peña Nieto has yet to deny these claims, a spokesman for Peña Nieto called the bribery story “false and defamatory”.

“You gave a story that Mr. Guzman paid a bribe to Mr. Peña Nieto of $100 million,” Guzman’s lawyer Jeffrey Lichtman asked Cifuentes during cross-examination in Brooklyn federal court, referring to his prior discussions with US authorities. “That’s right,” Cifuentes responded.

Cifuentes previously said Guzman had paid Peña Nieto with a $250 million bribe, however during his testimony, he told the court that Nieto had requested $250 million, but accepted El Chapo’s counter offer of $100 million.

During his testimony Tuesday, Cifuentes said the bribe was made so El Chapo wouldn’t have to worry about getting caught with this drug business.

In court, Lichtman said that in prior meetings in April 2016 and November 2017, Cifuentes told U.S. prosecutors that Peña Nieto had reached out to Guzman in 2012. Cifuentes says Peña Nieto, who was elected that year, told Guzman if he gave him the money, he wouldn’t have to worry about his drug business.

“The message was that Mr. Guzman didn’t have to stay in hiding?” Lichtman asked about the terms of the bribe. “Yes. That very thing is what Joaquin said to me,” Cifuentes said in his response.

It was during Peña Nieto’s term that Guzman was captured by Mexican authorities in 2014 only for him to escape before being caught again in 2016. He was then extradited to the US to face charges of drug trafficking and murder.

Peña Nieto might not be the only Mexican president who was working with the drug cartels.

Lichtman said Cifuentes told prosecutors in 2016 that Guzman’s rival drug gang, the Beltran-Leyva cartel, was paying former Mexican President Felipe Calderon for military protection against him. As of now, Cifuentes doesn’t recall saying that. According to Rolling Stone, Cifuentes did claim though that Guzman was working with the Mexican authorities in some capacity. Guzman would send suitcases filled with cocaine from Argentina to Mexican federal police, who would then sell the drugs themselves.

“I was working with my wife, Angie San Clemente, and working with the Mexican Federal Police with Señor Guzmán’s authorization,” Cifuentes said. “And you claimed the police would then sell the drugs, correct?” Lichtman asked. “You said the police were the customers of the drug dealers?”

“Yes,” Cifuentes responded.

If El Chapo is convicted he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Peña Nieto’s former chief of staff, Francisco Guzman, denied the allegations on Tuesday evening on Twitter.

“The statements of the Colombian drug trafficker in New York are false, defamatory and absurd. The government @EPN was the one who located, arrested and extradited Joaquín Guzmán Loera. Since the beginning of the administration, it was a priority objective of the security cabinet.”

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Mexico’s new president, ran a campaign on the platform of anti-corruption and won in a landslide last year. The trial so far has exposed many scandals and allegations of bribes in Mexico and Columbia that include police commanders and government officials. This probably won’t be the last we hear of this and this could spell serious trouble for Peña Nieto if the claims are true.


READ: El Chapo’s “Trial Of The Century” Started Last Month And Here’s Everything You Should Know About It

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Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

Things That Matter

Mexican President Criticizes DEA For Role In Former Army Chief’s Arrest

Hector Vivas / Getty Images

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador criticized the historic role of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Mexico after a former Mexican army chief was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles on drug charges at the request of the DEA.

The former Mexican Defense Minister was arrested by the DEA on drug charges.

Salvador Cienfuegos Zepedas was the secretary of National Defense in the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto from 2012 to 2018. President Lopez Obrador claims that the arrest is proof of corruption from past governments.

President Lopez Obrador used the arrest to criticize the U.S. government and the DEA.

President Lopez Obrador, speaking at a press conference in Oaxaca, claimed that there is a double standard. While Cienfuegos Zepedas has been arrested by the DEA, the president claims U.S. officials have not been held accountable for trafficking arms into Mexico to track them to the cartels. According to the president, Mexican officials are being held at a higher and harsher standard than U.S. officials.

“Why is it that it’s just the people in Mexico who took part in these acts being accused or implicated, and (the DEA) aren’t criticizing themselves, reflecting on the meddling by all these agencies in Mexico,” Lopez Obrador said at the press conference. “They came into the country with complete freedom, they did whatever they wanted.”

The former defense minister’s arrest sent shockwaves through Mexico.

Cienfuegos Zepedas was the first high-ranking Mexican military official to be arrested in the U.S. with drug-related corruption. He was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport and will be facing drug and money-laundering charges. It’s been less than a year since Genaro Garcia Luna was charged with taking bribes from the Sinaloa drug cartel led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

President Lopez Obrador wants to protect the military’s reputation.

Lopez Obrador also said he hopes that the armed forces aren’t blamed for this scandal and that Mexico must take care of institutions as important as the Secretary of National Defense. Mexico does not currently have an ongoing investigation of the retired general and will await the result of the U.S. investigation, according to the president of Mexico. 

Cienfuegos Zepedas is due to make a court appearance related to four charges in California on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020.

READ: This Is What Mexico’s AMLO Wants From The Pope For The Churches Crimes Against Indigenous Mexicans

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Showtime’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Is A Documentary Highlighting The World’s Only Binational Baseball Team

Entertainment

Showtime’s ‘Bad Hombres’ Is A Documentary Highlighting The World’s Only Binational Baseball Team

tecolotes_2_laredos / Instagram

Sports have a way of bringing people together. The experience of rooting for your team is a unifying feeling that transcends borders and culture. Showtime is exploring the importance of sports through the lens of the Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos.

“Bad Hombres” is a documentary highlighting immigration under President Trump through baseball.

Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos are the only binational professional baseball team in the world. The team splits their home games between stadiums in Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. Director Andrew Glazer wanted to highlight the immigration issue through a sports lens to offer a different layer to the narrative.

“Most of the people trying to come into the U.S. are families and children trying to escape horrible violence in Central America,” Glazer told CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “That story has been told, so what I wanted to do was show people in a way that I thought would be relatable to what life is like on the border. What life is like on those two sides and how interconnected they are. The thing that struck me to be honest is that initially in Laredo, Texas was how pervasive Spanish is spoken.”

The documentary shows the struggles of the baseball team trying to make sense of the volatile U.S.-Mexico border relations.

The Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos split time playing their home games between two stadiums in the U.S. and Mexico. The Trump administration’s constant battle with Mexico and threats to close the border put the team’s season in jeopardy. A first look teaser shows team managers trying to coordinate the release of game tickets in time with the ever-changing immigration announcements from the Trump administration.

“Bad Hombres” speaks politics without directly addressing politics.

“Even though my film has an overarching political message, the players are not covertly or overtly political in any way,” Glazer told CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “They are baseball players and they are living their lives and a lot of them are trying to make it to the majors and some of them were in the majors and are now finishing their careers. There wasn’t a whole lot of political discussions.”

Glazer made sure to highlight the depths and complexities of the team members dealing with the political climate without politics.

“Inherently, what made the team fascinating is you had players from the U.S. who were Anglo-American players and Mexican American players who had a different perspective,” Glazer told DJ Sixsmith. “Then you had Mexican players and some Dominican players and Cuban and people from everywhere else. There were different languages and different perspectives. Seeing how that developed over time was pretty fascinating.”

“Bad Hombres” is streaming on Showtime.

READ: Veronica Alvarez Is The Coach For The Oakland A’s And Her Presence Is Giving Girls A Chance To Pursue Baseball

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