[Marxism] Criminals Against Crime

Tony Abdo gojack10 at hotmail.com
Sun Jul 18 01:59:53 MDT 2004


July 17, 2004
Mayoral hopeful vows to cut crime in Tijuana
But foes say he's more of a criminal than a crimefighter
By IOAN GRILLO (Houston Chronicle)

JORGE HANK RHON
Controversial businessman running for Tijuana mayor:
• Born in Toluca in central Mexico in 1956. His father was a rural 
schoolteacher who became one of Mexico's most powerful politicians.
• Moved to Tijuana in 1983. His businesses there include a dog track, a 
shopping center, a restaurant and betting parlors. He estimates his fortune 
at $500 million.
• Has 18 children and 400 pet dogs.
• Has a private zoo of 10,000 animals at his race track.
• Now campaigning for mayor of Tijuana.

TIJUANA, MEXICO - "Two women abducted and murdered," screams the newspaper 
headline that flashes across the television screen in a political campaign 
commercial.

"Man shot dead in broad daylight," trumpets another headline.

The newspaper images then dissolve to reveal the calm face of Jorge Hank 
Rhon, millionaire dog-track owner and Tijuana mayoral candidate.

"The authorities in this city aren't capable of stopping crime," Hank says, 
throwing the newspapers onto a table.

Hank, 48, a businessman from one of the nation's most powerful political 
families, hopes his aggressive law-and-order campaign will win him the Aug. 
1 mayoral election in this crime-ridden border city of 1.5 million people.

Such a victory would return Tijuana to the Institutional Revolutionary 
Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico for seven decades before losing the 
presidency in 2000.

But Hank's candidacy has generated lots of questions. Some critics, 
including the Tijuana weekly newspaper Zeta, have suggested the millionaire 
himself could be involved in criminal activity.

Zeta recently published a story speculating that Hank may have masterminded 
the slaying of one of its editors, Francisco Ortiz, who was shot dead in 
front of his children June 22.

Police are looking into all lines of investigation but have not yet 
questioned Hank about the killing, Raul Gutierrez, a spokesman for the 
Tijuana state police, said last week.

Hank denies any involvement.

The Zeta article is the latest in a series of stories critical of Hank that 
have been published in Mexico and the United States over the years.

"They have no basis for their accusations. It's just hearsay," Hank said in 
fluent English on a recent drive through a tough Tijuana neighborhood in his 
campaign bus.

"If they had any proof, then I wouldn't be here. I would be in jail."

Born in Toluca, Hank is the youngest son of the late Carlos Hank Gonzalez, a 
rural schoolteacher who became one of the most powerful Mexican politicians 
of his era, occupying several Cabinet posts and serving as mayor of Mexico 
City. Hank Gonzalez also created a business empire that Forbes estimated was 
worth $1.3 billion.

"A politician who is poor is a poor politician," Hank Gonzalez was famous 
for saying.

The younger Hank has often made headlines because of his lavish lifestyle 
and colorful personality.

Married three times and the father of 18 children, Hank has a personal zoo 
of 10,000 animals, including Bengal and Siberian tigers. He has 400 pet 
dogs.

Until this year, he dedicated himself to his businesses — running the dog 
track, betting parlors, hotel and shopping mall that have made him a fortune 
he estimates at $500 million.

But, he said, he always intended to follow his father into politics.

"I was just waiting for the proper moment," he said.

The mayoral race between Hank and his chief rival, Jorge Ramos, of President 
Vicente Fox's National Action Party, is likely to be decided by a few 
thousand votes, said Luis Carlos Lopez, an analyst at Baja California's 
Autonomous University.

According to many surveys, crime — the focus of Hank's campaign — is the No. 
1 concern of Mexican voters.

Hank pins the blame for the crime wave in Tijuana, which has recorded more 
than 300 homicides annually in recent years, on the National Action Party, 
which has governed the border city since 1989.

The mayoral candidate wants to install video cameras to keep watch over the 
city and to provide police officers with equipment that would track their 
whereabouts.

"We have to look over the police as well," he said.

Some, however, say that Hank is not the best person to clean up Tijuana's 
streets.

"Considering his record, Hank should not be a candidate for mayor," Lopez 
said.

In 1988, one of Hank's bodyguards, Antonio Vera Palestina, was convicted of 
murdering Hector Felix Miranda, an editor at Zeta, which has published 
hundreds of exposés on corruption and drug trafficking. Police cleared Hank 
of any involvement in that slaying.

But Zeta has pressed for the case to be reopened and has published a weekly 
letter in the name of Felix that says: "Jorge Hank Rhon: Why did your 
bodyguard kill me?" Hank has repeatedly denied any connection to the crime.

Ortiz, the Zeta editor killed last month, had been working with the 
Miami-based Inter-American Press Association on an independent investigation 
of the 1988 slaying.

In the 1990s, U.S. authorities investigated the Hank family for alleged 
links to organized crime. No charges were filed.

"Hank's candidacy is a shame on Tijuana and the PRI," said Luz Elena Picos, 
editor of the city's Red Social newspaper.

Hank also has drawn controversy with his offhand remarks. Last month, the 
candidate caused a stir when he told Mexico City's El Universal newspaper 
that his favorite animal is "woman."

Riding in his campaign bus, Hank defended the comment, saying all humans are 
animals.

"They teach us in primary school that we belong to the animal kingdom," he 
said.

Hank's campaign is now focusing on Tijuana's poorer communities, which, 
analysts say, could provide key votes in the Aug. 1 election.

Although he is worth millions of dollars, Hank said he relates to the 
residents of the slums, some of which have no paved roads or running water.

"I was raised in these communities. I always related to the children of 
workers," Hank said. "I enjoy their company, and they enjoy mine."

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