Although a Feb. 13 Washington Post story claimed that President Bush's links to Mexico have been largely "ceremonial," El Andar has documented ties between the Bush family and a colorful cast of Mexican power-brokers going back four decades to an oil business partnership between George Bush and Jorge Diaz Serrano.
The Bushes are of course a famously friendly family, with a huge circle of acquaintances. Several of their Mexican connections, however, have later caused them some embarrassment. For example, Diaz Serrano would go on to spend much of the 1980s in a Mexican prison for embezzling $58 million while he headed Mexico's Pemex oil monopoly.
El Andar also reported that Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother, occasionally vacationed at the Puebla ranch of Raul Salinas, the brother of former Mexican president Carlos Salinas (1988-1994). Raul can no longer host anyone, though. He is currently serving a 27-year prison sentence for the murder of his ex-brother-in-law. Raul's wife was arrested in Switzerland when she attempted to remove close to $100 million from their Swiss bank account.
The Florida governor, whose wife Columba was born in Mexico, told Andres Oppenheimer of the Miami Herald, "I've seen [Raul Salinas] 10 times, at the most. I found him to be a very nice person, with very nice children . . . It's kind of shocking [to learn of] all these allegations.'' Jeb Bush said that he and Raul "never did any business.''
... Indeed, one target of [El Andar], the family of Carlos Hank Gonzales, a powerful politician in Mexico's former ruling party (the PRI), has threatened to sue the tiny magazine for $10 million over Reynolds' article "The NAFTA Gang."
According to Forbes Magazine, Carlos Hank Gonzales, a lifelong public servant, is a self-made billionaire. He justifies his good fortune with this elegant saying: "A politician who is poor is a poor politician."
His son, Carlos Hank Rohn, is the primary shareholder in the $2 billion dollar Laredo National Bank of Texas. The controversial bank's CEO Gary G. Jacobs contributed a total of $85,000 to George W. Bush's two campaigns for governor, according to the campaign contribution database maintained by Texans for Public Justice. Jacobs has also contributed to numerous Democrats in recent years.
A draft report leaked from the federal National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) alleged, "Several years of investigative information strongly support the conclusion that the Hank family has laundered money on a massive scale, assisted drug trafficking organizations in transporting drug shipments and engaged in large-scale public corruption." ...
Jacobs has attributed federal criticism of his chief stockholder to ethnic bias: "They don't want Latinos to own or control banks in the U.S."
Journalists in Mexico who write too bluntly about the rich and powerful have more to worry about than lawsuits. For example, a Tijuana gossip columnist named Héctor Félix Miranda was gunned down in 1988. Two Hank family bodyguards were eventually convicted.
And here's Julia Reynolds' story in El Andar on "Los Amigos de Bush" on the narco ties of some of the Bush family's chief Mexican-American supporters in Texas.
Back in 1995, Jorge G. Castaneda, who was Mexican Foreign Minister in the early 2000s, wrote in the Los Angeles Times:
There has also been a great deal of speculation in Mexico about the exact nature of Raul Salinas' close friendship with former President George Bush's son, Jeb. It is well known here that for many years the two families spent vacations together--the Salinases at Jeb Bush's home in Miami, the Bushes at Raul's ranch, Las Mendocinas, under the volcano in Puebla. There are many in Mexico who believe that the relationship became a back channel for delicate and crucial negotiations between the two governments, leading up to President Bush's sponsorship of NAFTA.
In 2004, another Salinas brother, Enrique, was found murdered in his car, gangland-style.
The difference in this regard between George W. and Jeb was twofold: Jeb really does speak Spanish and really isn't a screw-up, so he was much more plugged into what was going on at the top in Mexico in the early 1990s, which was pretty Borgia-like.