Carlos Ahumada, the protagonist of the so-called video scandals of 2004 that stained Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s image as a squeaky clean politician, has written a tell-all book (Derecho de Replica – ‘Right of Reply’) that implicates members across the political establishment, but especially the PRI and PAN, in corrupt acts involving Ahumada himself. He has proven himself to be an unreliable self-promoter, but his allegations play well to Mexican instincts that their political system is, as Ramón Alberto Garza puts it, “a gigantic screen of colors, emblems, and parties, where principles, ideals, platforms, voters, and citizens don’t count.” Columnist Yuriria Sierra called it, “A 375-page gift to AMLO’s movement.”
A bit of a recap: In 2004, five videotapes (filmed by Ahumada himself) were released to the Mexico media showing him making cash payoffs to René Bejarano, one of AMLO’s closest associates and at the time a member of the DF Legislative Assembly, and Carlos Ímaz, the head of the Mexico City borough of Tlalpan. The payoffs were to secure construction contracts for companies that Ahumada, a naturalized Mexican of Argentine origin, owned. AMLO was at the time Mexico City’s mayor. The tapes were broadcast on TV by reporter Victor Trujillo, who received the tapes from then PAN Senator Fernando Doring. Ahumada also financed 17 gambling excursions of the DF Finance chief, Gustavo Ponce, who was separately videotaped at the gaming tables in Las Vegas. The disclosures coincided with the Fox government’s controversial attempt to strip AMLO of his legal immunity while in office. Bejarano, Ponce, and Ímaz all resigned in disgrace, though AMLO was never personally implicated. The threat of disclosures of more tapes hung over the 2006 presidential election campaign, although none surfaced. Ahumada himself was extradited from Cuba, where he had fled, was convicted of bribery. He now lives in Buenos Aires.