Former-Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado (1982-88) expressed his disappointment with his successor, Carlos Salinas de Gortarí (1988-1994), in an interview that he gave to talk show host Carmen Aristegui on April 15.
In the interview, which was broadcast on May 13 and remains available online in written and audio format, former-President de la Madrid indicated that he was disappointed with the “immorality” of the Salinas administration, and specifically alleged impropriety on the part of Salinas’ brothers —Raúl and Enrique— in procuring government contracts from PEMEX. In addition, the former-president acknowledged that he had access to intelligence information indicating that Raul was complicit with drug cartels and helped to launder their funds through Swiss bank accounts.
While most of his condemnations targeted Raúl Salinas, De la Madrid also indicated that there was a strong possibility that President Salinas may have stolen from the “secret budget line” (partida secreta) that permitted the president the discretion to use federal funds without disclosure to Congress. De la Madrid stated, “I feel very disappointed, I was wrong” in selecting Salinas to be his successor. However, de la Madrid stopped short of asserting the need for a criminal investigation against Carlos Salinas, stating, “it would not be convenient.”
After his statements were aired, the 74-year-old former president blamed his statements on ill health and confusion, and retracted his comments. His successor Carlos Salinas also issued a statement indicating that he was pained because believed his predecessor to be ill, and that he felt “indignation for the lack of respect [showed] to him and to the viewers.” However, the notion that de la Madrid was disoriented was challenged by political commentators and medical experts who perceived his responses to be “lucid.”
According to an account reported in the daily newspaper El Universal, de la Madrid’s retraction was allegedly encouraged by members of the former-president’s family and close friends. Enrique and Federico de la Madrid and high-level operatives from his own administration —former-PEMEX director Francisco Rojas, former-personal secretary Emilio Gamboa, and former-Mexico City mayor Ramón Aguirre— reportedly spent seven hours urging de la Madrid to recant his statements. According to the same accounts, this effort was allegedly orchestrated by Carlos Salinas from his current residence in London.
De la Madrid’s allegations prompted the Secretaría de la Función Pública (SFP), Mexico’s federal ministry of public administration, to review its legal mandate to investigate Salinas’ use of the partida secreta.
“Miguel de la Madrid acusa a Carlos Salinas de corrupto, y se desdice,” El Universal May 14, 2009.
Ruth Rodríguez, “Está lúcido, dice experto,” El Universal May 14, 2009.
“El día que ‘enfermó’ De la Madrid,” El Universal May 15, 2009.
José Gerardo Mejía, “Analiza la SFP si investiga a Salinas por partida secreta,” El Universal May 20, 2009.