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barred entry to the state police, but allowed the sons to pass, then shot them both to death, according to Proceso. On March 5, they likewise denied entry to the governor of Michoacan when he arrived for a personal inspection. That governor was Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, who was at the time still a member of the PRI, albeit increasingly vocal in his criticisms of the party’s failure to uphold the constitution and laws of Mexico, and its descent into antidemocratic and corrupt practices. Later on the day of his visit to “El Marefto,” Cardenas placed an official spread in the national newspaper Excelsior, in which he denounced the gratuitous violence and arrogance of the forces answering to Attorney General Sergio Garcia Ramirez and Governor Alvarez del Castillo, in addition to the violation of state sovereignty. “The lawless behavior,” he wrote, “of police units obligated and entrusted with providing protection to, and gaining the confidence of, society, makes an already difficult and complicated task all the more difficult.” The next day local residents found two large plastic bags containing badly decomposed corpses, lying on the ground some 2,500 feet from the El Mardi ranch. There was no way to miss them: the stench was unbearable as far as 150 feet away. Leonel Godoy, who was then Deputy Attorney General of Michoacan, was dispatched to the site by Governor Cardenas, together with a team of forensic experts. By comparing samples of earth found inside the bags with soil samples from the surroundings the experts established that the bodies could not ;21;1 TEX AS server Available at the following locations: Daily News & Tobacco 309-A Andrews Highway Midland Books and News 301 State Line Ave. Texarkana The Original Magazine & Bookstore 5360 W. Lovers Lane #210 Dallas The Original Magazine & Bookstore #2 11661 Preston, Suite 301 Dallas have been buried nearby, as the federal attorney general’s office had initially tried to claim. The corpses, subsequently identified as those of Camarena and his Mexican pilot, had apparently been hastily planted on the site, in a crude attempt to deflect attention from Jalisco to Michoacan, and embarrass a governor who was already beginning to unsettle the system. HE FOLLOWING YEAR, Cardenas joined other would-be reformers within the ruling party in forming the Democratic Current, a movement aimed at democratizing the PRI from within. One of their chief objectives was to have the PRI hold internal elections, as mandated in its own statutes. When President Miguel de la Madrid nonetheless proceeded, in the traditional fashion, to hand-pick Carlos Salinas de Gortari as his successor, Cardenas left the party to launch an independent candidacy for the presidency. His grassroots campaign tapped into unanticipated levels of popular discontent. Despite his lack of funding and denial of television exposure, Cardenas’s rallies grew larger than those of the government, culminating in a rally held in Mexico City’s central square that drew half a million wildly cheering supporters, and set off panic in the PRI. It was in this context that Cardenas’s parallel vote-count coordinator was assassinated. On election night, as early returns showing Cardenas in the lead began filtering into the capital, the brand-new computerized vote tabulation system suddenly went down. Parallel vote counts based on official tally sheets from the 55 percent of precincts in which the opposition was able to place poll watchers showed Cardenas leading Salinas by a margin of four percentage points; to this day the government refuses to disclose results from the remaining 45 percent. Salinas was simply designated president-elect by the PRI-controlled Federal Electoral Commission, chaired by the country’s minister of the interior. Cardenas, who continues to be received throughout most of the country as “the authentic president of Mexico,” then formed the Party of the Democratic Revolution, whose name alludes to the continuing campaign to establish the right of the Mexican people to choose their own government. Oddly, Salinas continues to be portrayed in the United States as a reformer, despite the role he and his political allies played in blocking Democratic Current’s proposed reforms within the PRI, despite strong evidence that he owes his own office to electoral fraud, and despite repeated accusations of vote-stealing by his party in more recent state elections. Odd too, in view of his promotion of Enrique Alvarez del Castillo recently linked to the Guadalajara drug mafia by a witness in the Los Angeles Camarena trial to the position of Attorney General of the Republic. The real reformers, meanwhile, are either in jail like Mayor Mendoza, subjected to police surveillance and intimidation like Congressman Godoy, or blocked by fraud from assuming the public offices to which they were elected, as is likely with Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, and certain with hundreds of federal, state, and municipal candidates of his party. One of the clearest signs of the times is the defection of the man the PRI itself chose to lead the fight against corruption. Shortly after former president Miguel de la Madrid took office in 1982, he appointed Samuel del Villar, a Harvard-educated lawyer and university professor, to direct an ambitious moral renovation campaign intended to cleanse the regime’s tarnished image. After some initial high-profile arrests, including that of the former police chief of Mexico City, del Villar ran into resistance as he probed too deeply into the power structure. His experience led him to conclude that Mexico’s one-party system could not be reformed from within. Rather than participate in a whitewash, he resigned. Del Villar has since joined the inner circle of advisers to Cuauhtemoc Cardenas in his judgment the person most capable of, and committed to, reforming Mexico. He sees a parallel between the national reform efforts of Cardenas and the local reform efforts of persons like Mayor Mendoza, who have been attracted to the PRD precisely because of Cardenas’s personal integrity. “The eagle,” del Villar said, [alluding to the Nahuatl meaning of Cuauhtemoc], “and the little eagle [Aguililla] are of the same species.” As secretary for legal affairs of the PRD, del Villar is coordinating Mendoza’s defense, though without illusions about the prospects for justice. Mendoza’s continuing imprisonment, symbolizing as it does the fate of reform in Mexico, is also a disturbing reminder of our complacency as we persist in ignoring unsavory realities about our new Mexican friends. Were Mendoza Cuban, of course, his case would be championed on our evening news and on our editorial pages to embarrass an enemy. Yet we would do well to recall how often our inattention to unpleasant details about our foreign friends has eventually led to our own embarrassment, if not to a policy nightmare. Panamanian General Manuel Noriega is but the most recent example. Before we make our Mexican friendship more intimate and permanent by negotiating a free-trade agreement, we should ask some hard questions. Why, for instance, is the Mexican government imprisoning would-be Mexican reformers like Mendoza instead of drug traffickers? Why are agents of the Mexican Justice Department engaging in torture, rape, illegal detention, and political persecution, despite President Salinas’s pledges to clean up corruption? Why do proven reformers, like Samuel del Villar, feel compelled to leave the government and join the opposition? If we cannot ask such questions of our friends, we may eventually find we do not need enemies. 0 10 SEPTEMBER 16, 1990