Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Mark in Mexico: Ruiz Ortiz cut off public subsidies, so APPO struck back

I've been aware of some of this for a long time and have commented about it from time to time. But now comes Milenio to lay out some names of which even I was not aware.

Milenio, I would assume, comes by this information from assorted government leaks, both authorized and not-so-authorized, as well as leaks from inside the more than 400 organizations that made up what is now the smoking ruin of APPO.

Milenio says that Flavio Sosa, as leader of the Nueva Izquierda de Oaxaca, the Coalición Obrero Campesino Estudiantil del Istmo de Tehuantepec, the Organización Democrática Insurgente, the Unión Campesina Democrática (UCD) and the RED, among others, cemented his leadership roles with money directly from the state's coffers.

Sosa once made a run for the leadership of the state PRD, which caused an internal rift in the UCD which Sosa was leading at the time. Milenio says that Sosa, sensing the loss of support, put the arm on ex-governor Jose Murat Casab.

Murat Casab responded by using public money to subsidize more than half of the organizations that today make up APPO. For instance, he ordered the issuance of more than 1000 public transportation concessions (taxi and bus licenses and protected routes) in the names of organizations such as the Frente Amplio de Lucha Popular, the Comité de Defensa de Intereses del Pueblo, the Consejo Indígena Popular de Oaxaca and the Movimiento Unificado de Lucha Triqui.

In addition, Flavio Sosa and two of his brothers also received these concessions for their own private enrichment. The amount of money flowing directly from the state to these organizations became so vast and such an open secret that charges began to be hurled that Sosa and his collaborators were actively working to weaken the opposition.

The national executive committee of the small opposition party Alternativa Socialdemócrata, headed by Alberto Begné y Patricia Mercado, accuse Sosa and his followers of having "climbed aboard the legitimate teachers' movement and adulterated its origen by using it (Sección 22 of the SNTE) in an attempt to balance Murat Casab's accounts with Ruiz Ortiz."

Organizations, including APPO itself, received public money from the state's Comité de Planeación para el Desarrollo del estado (Coplade) and from Ramo 33. Ramo 33 money is federal money sent to the states which falls under the control of the states, making it far easier to steal. In the pre-Ramo 33 good old days, this money could be stolen only with the permission of the federal government but a percentage had to be kicked back to Mexico City. With Ramo 33 money at their disposal and state governments refusing to adhere to public disclosure laws which have no teeth, a far larger share of the booty can now stay local.

The state government is supposedly conducting audits that are turning over rocks which everybody already knew had lots of creepy crawlies hiding beneath them. Former Governor Murat Casab managed to delay and avoid these legally required audits throughout his administration, but his arch enemy Governor Ruiz Ortiz is now gleefully turning those rocks over, one by one. Now, of course, when it comes time for Governor Ruiz Ortiz to suffer under the harsh glare of an auditor's pince-nez, I'm sure there will be foot dragging aplenty.

This habit of roundly ignoring public disclosure laws because, hell, why not?, is endemic in both state governments as well as the federal government. Even AMLO, as mayor of Mexico City, halted audits and oversights because, "they are too time consuming and expensive." Would that he had allowed them to continue and maybe he wouldn't have been blind-sided by several multi-million peso frauds that subsidised gambling junkets to Las Vegas, flights to Havana and the like.

When newly elected Governor Ruiz Ortiz began cutting off Murat Casab's long time favorite tax money skimmers in favor of his own, Murat Casab got pissed. So, he went to his friends, particularly the Sosas, and asked them to begin applying a little pressure to Ruiz Ortiz. That pissed off Ruiz Ortiz. Why should he continue to buy off these supposed opposition groups when they really truly began to oppose him, painting nasty messages on all the city's walls and windows? He is believed to have said at the time, "I remember when an opposition group that got bought stayed bought." So, he cut them off.

Kaboom! All hell broke loose. One particularly nasty enemy that came to the fore was Organizaciones Indias por los Derechos Humanos en Oaxaca (OIDHO). OIDHO had been receiving sustenance for a long time from Murat Casab and previous governors in return for not scalping anybody, I guess. This group is led by one Jesús López. Does that name ring a bell? Jesús (not, "Hey! Zeus.") is married to one María del Carmen López Vázquez. How about that name? Does it ring a bell? Talk about your creepy crawlies!

Some of these "opposition groups" and members of APPO are even PRIista. For instance, Coordinadora Estatal de Comunidades y Organizaciones Emiliano Zapata (CECOEZ), which is funded and led by PRI Federal Deputy Teofilo Manuel García Corpus. Funded out of his own pocket, you think?

Commenter Gerardo reminded me that renowned Oaxacan artist Francisco Toledo said two days ago that, "I would almost say that the entire political class of Oaxaca would have to disappear in order to make change happen in this state." And I agree with Gerardo the Toledo is probably right. But we are talking about a huge number of people. Much too big for that idea to fly, unfortunately.

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