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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This Indigenous Village In Mexico Trains Their Children As Soldiers To Combat Gang Violence

Things That Matter

This Indigenous Village In Mexico Trains Their Children As Soldiers To Combat Gang Violence

via Getty Images

In the town of Ayahualtempa, Mexico, in the state of Guerrero, reporters see a shocking image whenever they visit. Children armed with guns, trained to defend themselves. The disturbing scene is meant to be shocking. The village of Ayahualtempa is under constant attack. A prominent heroin “corridor”, they are the victims of violence and carnage at the hands of gangsters and the cartel.

In order to gain the Mexican government’s attention, the Ayahualtempa villagers dress their children up as soldiers. Then, they invite the media in.

Ayahualtempa
via Getty Images

When reporters arrive, the children of Ayahualtempa dutifully line up and put on a performance. They march, they show how they would shoot a gun from one knee, or from flat on their bellies. They tell reporters that their mock-violent performance is “so the president sees us and helps us,” as a 12-year-old child named Valentín told the Associated Press.

Because the Mexican government doesn’t protect Ayahualtempa, the display of child soldiers is a form of protest for the small indigenous village. The people of this remote region of Guerrero want protection from the National Guard, and financial help for widows and orphans who have been made so from organized crime.

The villagers don’t trust local authorities, and for good reason. Guerrera is the Mexican state in which 43 teaching students were abducted and killed in an event that is known as the “Iguala mass kidnapping”. Authorities arrested 80 suspects in connection to the event. 44 of them were police officers, working in conjunction with a network of cartels.

Although the demonstrations function largely as a publicity stunt, violence is very much a part of these children’s lives.

via Getty Images

Parents train their children to walk to school with loaded guns, ready to defend themselves against violent gangsters.

The attention-grabbing antics have, to some extent, worked. On one occasion, the government donated some housing material. On another, benefactors gave the community’s orphans and widows scholarships and houses. But as soon as the periodic media storms die down, the federal government continues pretending Ayahualtempa doesn’t exist.

The hypocrisy of the government’s response is frustrating to many. “We’ve normalized that these children don’t eat, are illiterate, are farm workers. We’re used to the Indians dying young, but, ‘How dare they arm them!’” said local human rights activist Abel Barrera to the AP, with a heavy dose of sarcasm.

As for now, until the government moves to protect the community, they say they will continue their demonstrations. “They see that the issue of the children is effective for making people take notice and they think: If that’s what works, we’ll have to keep doing it,” said Barrera.

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Spanish Voiceover Actress For Jessie From Pokémon Dies And Fans Mourn

Entertainment

Spanish Voiceover Actress For Jessie From Pokémon Dies And Fans Mourn

Pokémon fans in Latin America are mourning the death of Diana Pérez, the Spanish-language voice of Jessie of Pokémon’s Team Rocket. The voice actress has been voicing the character since 1997.

Diana Pérez, the voice actress of Team Rocket’s Jessie, died at 51.

Lalo Garza, a famed voice actor in Mexico, confirmed the death of the Pokémon voice actress.

“Rest in peace Diana Pérez, a strong, cultured, intelligent, and very talented woman. You are good now, friend. Nothing hurts anymore. Have a good trip,” reads the tweet.

Pérez has been a staple in the Spanish-language Pokémon fandom for decades.

Pérez was more than just he voice of Jessie. The voice actress was the voice of multiple anime characters including Luffy in One Piece and Kagura in Inuyasha. In recent years, Pérez had started branching out to directing, producing, and other branches in the entertainment industry.

Pérez’s death is being mourned by Pokémon fans outside of the Spanish-language fandom.

Sarah Natochenny is the English voice of Ash Ketchum in the Pokémon series, Jessie’s mortal enemy. The death of Pérez has impacted the larger Pokémon community. Pérez was a pivotal part of the Latin American Pokémon community for decades and her loss has devastated fans.

Descansa en paz, Diana.

There have been no plans announced for a replacement to voice Team Rocket’s Jessie. No official cause of death has been released either. Our hearts and thoughts go out to Pérez’s family and the greater Pokémon community mourning her passing.

READ: I Was Today Years Old When I Found Out This Mexican Pokémon

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