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Cablegate: Mexico: San Pedro Mayor Disavows Vigilantism

VZCZCXRO5997
PP RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #3208/01 3161346
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 121346Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8986
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 1169
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0372
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHME/USMLO MEXICO CITY MX PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHME/USDAO MEXICO CITY MX PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 003208

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PINR SNAR MX
SUBJECT: MEXICO: SAN PEDRO MAYOR DISAVOWS VIGILANTISM

REF: A. MONTERREY 0412
B. MONTERREY 0379
C. MONTERREY 0344

1. (SBU) Summary: Mauricio Fernandez Garza, newly elected
mayor in the Monterrey municipality of San Pedro, recently
implicated himself in possible extralegal activities when he
made public statements concerning the killing of suspected
narco-traffickers several hours before their bodies were
discovered in Mexico City (ref. A). The Mayor's repeated
public support for extralegal means of combatting organized
crime has struck a chord with some elements of the public
frustrated with violent crime. The Mexican political
establishment, including President Calderon and the Governor
of Nuevo Leon, Rodrigo Medina, have roundly criticized
Fernandez and publicly pledged their strong support for the
rule of law; Medina reassured the Ambassador on November 10
that the state government had strong backing from federal
authorities to take concrete steps against vigilantism.
Given vague assurances from Mexico's Federal Prosecutor's
Office (PGR) and information from our NGO and press sources,
an official investigation may be slow to develop, given
Fernandez' ties to PAN party leadership. Nonetheless, GOM
condemnation has been swift and harsh and could serve as a
warning to others in government or the private sector that
the Calderon Administration will not go the way of tacit
approval of vigilantism. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Fernandez, the Mayor of San Pedro, a wealthy suburb
of Monterrey, barely retreated in recent days from earlier
comments he had made describing his support for extralegal
measures to combat organized crime (ref. A). Fernandez has
gained national attention, and some public support, by
characterizing Mexico's laws as obsolete and accusing state
and federal officials of inaction in the face of violent
crime threatening the state. He has referred to a "bad-boy
squad" who are well trained and know how to deal with
kidnappers, narco-traffickers, and other criminals. Under
intense pressure from opposition leaders, human rights
organizations, and leaders of his own party, including
President Felipe Calderon, Fernandez has since clarified that
he would employ such a group only in the event he had no
other choice. He also asserted that taking such a measure
would not necessarily constitute a violation of law.

3. (SBU) His defense against those questioning how he knew
about the killings of the Saldana brothers before their
bodies were even discovered has been unpersuasive and ever
shifting. His excuses include: that he heard it from an
anonymous tip, that he got it from intel sources, that he
guessed, and that he got the information from contacts with
the U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey. (Note: Reftels are
very clear about our conversations with Fernandez and his
questionable ties to certain groups. Characteristic of
Fernandez' dishonest politicking, he tried to cover his lies
with a half truth: he told a local radio station that, not
only had he received information about threats against him
from the Consulate (true), but also that the Consulate had
provided his staff with an intercept about Saldanas' death
(not true). As we reported in Ref. A, Consulate General
Monterrey learned of the Saldanas' killings from one of
Fernandez' advisors a full day before the bodies were
discovered in Mexico City. End Note.)

4. (SBU) In his November 10 meetings with the Ambassador in
Monterrey, Governor Medina said that he had made repeated
public statements rejecting Fernandez' comments and upholding
the rule of law. He said he had spoken to President Calderon
the day before and that he had the full backing of the
Federal Government: both were in agreement that Mexico would
not go down the path of vigilantism. President Calderon
affirmed his commitment in a widely-publicized November 10
business summit in Monterrey with a strong statement that his
government would combat crime only by legal means, in full
accordance with accepted human rights standards that are the
basis for the rule of law. Medina told the Ambassador and CG
Monterrey that he was personally committed to combating
vigilantism and that he would work closely with state and
federal authorities in monitoring this issue.

5. (SBU) NGO sources and press editorials have also strongly
condemned Fernandez, and called on the government to
investigate his ties to the Saldana killings. The director
of an umbrella organization for some 65 human rights NGOs

MEXICO 00003208 002 OF 002


said Fernandez' comments demonstrated an obvious disregard
for the rule of law and reinforced his impression of the
Mayor's ties to organized crime. Fernandez was playing a
dangerous game with public sentiment and was only encouraging
a number of citizen groups that had embraced extralegal
measures out of frustration with the inability of federal,
state and local authorities in their own municipalities to
tackle effectively crime in their neighborhoods.
6. (SBU) Fernandez' critics have called for a thorough
investigation of what he knew, when he knew it, and his
possible involvement in the Saldana killings. PGR sources in
the capital told us they would have to "check with the local
office in Nuevo Leon" on the status of the investigation.
Our NGO sources evinced skeptism that there would be any
serious investigation of Fernandez, given his ties to the
President's PAN party and his influential contacts in Nuevo
Leon.

7. (SBU) Comment: Fernandez' support for vigilantism and his
self-implication in the recent execution style killings of
known organized crime henchmen will only complicate the
government's legitimate efforts against organized crime.
Given the misguided sentiment of many throughout Mexico who
suggest vigilantism as an option, the spate of kidnappings
that have terrorized Monterrey's elite, and the Mayor's rich
and powerful constituent base, the swift and harsh public
condemnation by Calderon (PAN) and Medina (PRI) is
encouraging. That said, the strongest response will be the
toughest one for the Calderon government: an energetic and
transparent investigation of Fernandez, his possible links to
organized crime, and his implication in the execution style
killing of the Saldana brothers. We will look to raise the
issue with senior Mexican legal authorities. End Comment.

Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
PASCUAL

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