Catholic News Service (www.catholicnews.com)
Mexico's ex-president seeks exoneration for Catholic prelate’s ‘93 murder
By David Agren
GUADALAJARA, Mexico (CNS) – In an effort to rehabilitate his tarnished reputation, former Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari is petitioning the Mexican government and senior Catholic officials to discharge him from any responsibility for the 1993 murder of Guadalajara Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo, reported Excelsior, a Mexico City newspaper.
The Excelsior story ran May 24, the 14th anniversary of the cardinal's violent death. It was based on copies of reports it said were dated Oct. 16, 2006, and May 2007 that "are only circulating at the highest levels of the Catholic hierarchy" and were prepared for the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
Jose Ortega Sanchez, a lawyer for Guadalajara Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iniguez, confirmed that the reports obtained by Excelsior were authentic.
He told the newspaper, "The Vatican's intention for requesting this information is to know the status of the investigation." He added that Salinas would like a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI and is looking for a third party to mediate – possibly Cardinal Sandoval.
According to the reports, Salinas' objective is to have the unresolved crime not declared "a state crime" and to advance the idea that the cardinal's murder "was ordered by Freemasons and public servants of that persuasion" like the former interior minister, Fernando Gutierrez Barrios, who died in 2000.
The reports also spelled out complaints of inaction by the Mexican government and said the perpetrators of the crime are hindering the investigation.
"Those involved (in the crime) have obstructed the investigation and applied pressure so that it doesn't arrive at a satisfactory conclusion, with the truth coming out," Excelsior quoted two Mexican lawyers as writing in one of the reports.
The pair added that Cardinal Posadas "was under surveillance during the days leading up to the homicide, and the telephones in his house and office were tapped."
Cardinal Posadas was shot dead at Guadalajara's international airport May 24, 1993. The cardinal was shot 14 times at close range. His chauffeur and five others at the scene also were killed.
No one has been convicted of his murder. Church officials, including Cardinal Posadas' successor, Cardinal Sandoval, rejected assertions that Cardinal Posadas was caught in the crossfire during a shootout between rival narcotics gangs.
The report dated May 2007, according to Excelsior, said Salinas, who governed from 1988 to 1994, attempted to speak with current Mexican President Felipe Calderon so that "the investigation into the cardinal's death would be closed." Calderon's office denied receiving any requests from Salinas.
Calderon is scheduled to visit the Vatican June 9.
Many Mexicans consider Salinas a pariah. He won a disputed election in 1988 and is blamed for the economic crash that followed his presidential term. However, Salinas re-established relations between Mexico and the Vatican in the early 1990s.
In 2000, his Institutional Revolutionary Party lost power after 71 years, but during the subsequent six-year term of President Vicente Fox of the National Action Party the investigation into Cardinal Posadas' murder "did not advance."
On the 14th anniversary of Cardinal Posadas' death, the Guadalajara municipal government renamed a small park for the late cardinal and also unveiled a plaque. At the ceremony, attended by Guadalajara Mayor Alfonso Petersen Farah, several of the speakers said the cardinal's death ushered in a new era of civic and political awareness in western Mexico, but that the country's institutions had dropped in the public's esteem.
"This city didn't just lose a religious leader," the mayor, a member of the National Action Party, said of the cardinal's murder and the fruitless investigation. The murder "represents a loss of trust in our institutions and the government."