Former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, in a highly unusual written broadside, has rejected accusations he was complicit in corruption and murder, claiming to be the victim of a whisper campaign by another former Mexican president.
Shattering many of the unwritten rules that bind Mexico’s dominant political system, Salinas broke out of a nine-month silence with a lengthy statement accusing former President Luis Echeverria of waging a “tremendous political struggle” against him. He hinted obliquely that Echeverria, who governed Mexico from 1968 to 1976, could have inspired the assassination in March 1994 of the ruling party’s presidential candidate.
Salinas’s assertions struck many analysts as fantastic, but they added new fuel to the internal dissension undermining the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which has governed Mexico since the 1930s.
Salinas’s self-defense, which he sent by fax to news organizations late Sunday, came after the Mexican authorities disclosed that his brother Raul is holding about $105 million in secret European bank accounts and charged Raul Salinas with enriching himself illegally when his brother was president.
“My brother Raul’s deception is unacceptable to me,” Carlos Salinas said, seeking to insulate himself from his brother’s scandal. The former president said he had asked his brother not to engage in private business during the Salinas administration, and implied he was surprised to learn that Raul Salinas had made a fortune in that period.
The former president said he is no longer prepared to play the role of “favorite villain” and is ready to return to Mexico to respond to any accusations. To date he faces no formal charges. After feuding with his successor, President Ernesto Zedillo, Carlos Salinas left Mexico in March of this year and his whereabouts are not publicly known. Recent Mexican news reports said he was spotted in recent weeks on a visit to Cuba.
Carlos Salinas devoted several pages to rebutting growing popular suspicion here that he was behind the murder in March 1994 of Luis Donaldo Colosio, the PRI candidate to be the next president.