MEXICO CITY – A message signed by someone claiming to be a member of the Zapatista National Liberation Army, or EZLN, says that group was responsible for the kidnapping of Mexican former presidential candidate Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, who spent nearly eight months in captivity last year.
The message is signed by “El Guerrero Balam,” who claims to be a “loyal member of the EZLN insurgent forces” and an associate of the so-called Global Transformation Network.
The signer claims to be a subordinate of “Subcomandante Marcos,” leader of the long-quiescent EZLN guerrilla group, and states that Fernandez de Cevallos, the presidential candidate of the now-governing National Action Party, or PAN, in 1994, was “one of the main enemies of our project” to secure autonomy for indigenous peoples.
“El Guerrero Balam” says that, due to the government’s nationwide deployment of the army and Federal Police against criminal organizations, Mexico has become “a hell in which poor Mexican youth are hung by the neck from bridges,” referring to the grisly manner in which violent drug cartels often display rival gang members’ corpses.
The message says the government’s strategy for dealing with its opponents has forced the EZLN, which has mainly devoted itself to social and community activism since a brief uprising in January 1994, “to have to resort to constructive violence” and “take appropriate action in secret.”
It said the Zapatista movement, which has a leftist, Indian-rights agenda, has its sights set on the “total destruction of the current Mexican political system” and will use the ransom paid for Fernandez de Cevallos’ release to that end.
The captors of the 69-year-old politician sent a handful of e-mails to Mexican media outlets in which they referred to themselves as the “Misteriosos Desaparecedores” (Mysterious Disappearers), although in their last message they called themselves the Global Transformation Network.
In a public appearance after his release on Dec. 11 of last year, Fernandez de Cevallos provided few details about his captors nor the manner in which they freed him, although he said the government had a “pending” task of bringing them to justice.
Sources with the Attorney General’s Office consulted about the message said Saturday they would not comment on the kidnapping case.
Fernandez de Cevallos, who disappeared May 14 from his La Cabaña ranch near San Clemente, in the central Mexican state of Queretaro, was released in the central city of Queretaro after his family paid a huge ransom.
The politician negotiated the ransom himself, persuading his kidnappers to accept $30 million instead of the $100 million they initially demanded, according to Mexican media.
In his comments after he was set free, Fernandez de Cevallos said both political and financial factors were involved in his kidnapping.
“They considered me a man who was an enemy of their causes,” he told Radioformula last month.
Fernandez de Cevallos has been one of the most powerful figures in the PAN and Mexican politics in the past two decades.
Known for his fiery oratory, “Boss Diego” was a member of the lower house of Congress from 1991 to 1994 and a senator from 2000 to 2006.
He also runs a successful law firm that has represented both Mexico’s blue-chip corporations and reputed drug kingpins.