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The case of a Mexico governor,
a businessman and a journalist

15 March 2006: A case brought before Mexico’s federal courts on 13 March 2006 is set to rock the political establishment and may yet have bearing on the country’s 2006 presidential election. In February 2006 a tape recording of a very compromising phone conversation between the Governor of the Mexican state of Puebla, Mario Marín, and businessman Kamel Nacif was broadcast on national television, unleashing a wave of protest from the Puebla citizenry.

The journalist Lydia Cacho, the president of a women’s centre in Cancún City, had last year published a book under the title of The Devils of Eden, in which she denounced the involvement of Jean Succar Kuri, a businessman residing in Cancún and Los Angeles, in the child porn industry. Succar Kari is currently incarcerated in the US. He was implicated alongside several other businessmen and Mexican politicians, among them Kamel Nacif Borges, a businessman from Puebla. Cacho was then accused of defamation and calumny against Nacif and arrested last December by the police of Quintana Roo state and taken by road to Puebla by them, violating her rights, she claims.

In the sensational phone conversation, Nacif congratulated Governor Marín for having acted against the journalist by adulating him with the praise “You are the hero of this film, papa,” to which the Governor responded that he gave her a “blow on the head, telling her that “in Puebla the law is respected and here there is not impunity (…)” “I sent her a message, lets see what she answers…, she has been pestering us, so she’s got her blow”. In that tape recording is also heard that Nacif says he was to send the governor “a beautiful bottle of cognac in appreciation” of his actions.

On 15 February, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) announced that they would bring an impeachment trial against Marín, in case he refused to resign from his post. They described the behaviour of the governor as “factious” and that the information heard in the recording exposed the repressive and persecuting actions of Marin towards the journalist. This action, they added, was aimed at intimidating Ms. Cacho and to illegally protect businessmen and officials denounced by her as paedophiles. The presidential spokesman stated that the content of the conversation between Marin and Nacif is “brutal and outrageous” and that the presidency condemned all actions taken by any authority or person that violates the rule of law which would try to limit freedom of speech and of the press. The presidency “will support the authorities in charge of investigating the case of Ms. Cacho”, he added; at the same time, that it is “outrageous” to resort to the recording of private conversations.

The Governor of Puebla denied that it is his voice the one heard in the conversation with Nacif and he discarded the possibility of resigning after the scandal; “the days of the Three Wise Men are over, they will have to wait, this is a dream they have, which will not become true” he referred to those requesting his resignation. The representatives of the National Action Party (PAN) in the Congress of Puebla said that there were grounds for considering that influence peddling had taken place.

A day later, in a press conference, the presidential spokesman discounted the claim that President Vicente Fox could remove the Governor of Puebla, suggesting that the state congress and the republic’s senate are the ones that should act. Governor Marín then changed his defence arguments and accepted that the voice heard in the recording of the conversation with Kamel Nacif may be his, but that it also could be an edited version. In a subsequent news broadcast he said that despite the veracity of the recording being proven, he would not renounce his post.

On 21 February, the Mexican Chamber of Deputies requested the Supreme Court of Justice investigate the role of the Governor of Puebla for the offence and violation of the constitutional rights of Lydia Cacho. The republic’s presidency remarked that it was a good decision of the legislature to remit to the Supreme Court of Justice the case of Governor Mario Marín, in order to determine if there is a case to answer. “The court will have the last word” and “we will obey the court’s resolution”, the spokesman said. The Supreme Court received the petition of the Chamber of Deputies, and the president of the legislature said that if there is any irregularity, it will file a suit before the attorney general in order to investigate. Estimates of those demonstrating against Governor Mario Marín in the capital of the state of Puebla demanding his resignation ran at between 30,000 and 50,000, to cries of “The people gave him the post and the people will remove him”.

Ms Cacho also filed a suit against Marín in the federal courts on 13 March 2006.

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