"Corruptus in Extremis"
How many billions have been given to Mexico
for the phony "war" on drugs?
MEXICO CITY — A Mexican investigative team reported Sunday that President Enrique Pena Nieto and his actress wife possess a posh mansion built to their taste by a company that has grown fat with government contracts.
Pena Nieto has not reported the mansion, worth an estimated $7 million, on his official declaration of assets in the past two years, the team said.
The allegation falls on Pena Nieto at a time when he faces lagging support and public outrage over an apparent massacre of 43 students. It may also test his image as a leader who claims to battle corruption and fight for the rule of law.
Known as Casa La Palma, the mansion was built by a subsidiary of Grupo Higa, which has earned hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts under Pena Nieto, according to investigative reporters at aristeguinoticias.com, a news portal led by Carmen Aristegui, a radio and television journalist.
The mansion has:
- an underground parking garage
- an elevator
- seven bedrooms
- marble floors
- a special system of recessed mood lighting that changes colors
- Two distinctive palm trees jut above its white exterior.
First lady Angelica Rivera told a society magazine that the mansion belongs to her and her husband, and says it will be their future home once they leave Los Pinos, the official presidential residence in Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park, even though the deed remains in the name of a subsidiary of Grupo Higa.
Rivera’s claims of possession of the mansion might not seem newsworthy, except for the explosive events of the past week.
Mexico awarded a contract Nov. 3 to a Chinese-led consortium for a high-speed rail link between Mexico City and Queretaro, a center of the aerospace industry. China Railway Construction Corp., a mammoth concern that built up much of China’s high-speed rail system in the past decade, led a consortium that was sole bidder on the project, which has been valued at between $3.7 billion and $4.3 billion.
The award came before Pena Nieto headed Sunday to Beijing for a state visit and to attend a summit of leaders in the Asia Pacific region.
But in a stunning move certain to put in jeopardy Mexico’s relations with China, Pena Nieto’s government rescinded the bid late Thursday, reacting to claims by opposition National Action Party legislators that the bid was rigged to favor the Chinese-led consortium. Authorities said the bidding would be reopened for six months to allow more companies to take part.
See more McClatchy News.