Thursday, September 23, 2010

Where in the world is Julio César Godoy? The case, and the Michoacanazo, stinks to high heaven

Where in the world is Julio César Godoy Toscano? The half brother of Michoacán Governor Leonel Godoy Rangel has not been seen since June 28 2009, days before he was elected a national deputy from Michocán's First electoral district in the city of Lázaro Cárdenas, in Mexico's federal (midterm) elections.

Yet in a rather comic show of force, more than 200 police officers from the Federal Police (PF) and the Attorney General's Office (PGR) laid siege, of sorts, of San Lázaro, the Mexican Chamber of Deputies,  to prevent Godoy Toscano from being sworn in as a member of Congress, which he is rumoured to do in near future. The police are constitutionally prohibited from entering the building, yet are apparently keen on preventing the deputy-elect from swearing in an thus achieving a constitutional fuero, or procedural immunity from prosecution.  

The case stinks to high heaven, as does the now-infamous Michoacanazo from June 2009. To recall, Godoy Toscano, together with a range of other functionaries and politicians, was accused of links to organized crime, specifically La Familia Michoacana, and more than 30 state functionaries, municipal presidents, and police were arrested in a military operation ordered by federal authorities that caught governor Godoy completely by surprise and of which he was not informed.

The problem: The evidence against most of the apprehended, as well against the fugitive Godoy Toscano, was very flimsy, to put it mildly. One by one the arrested have been released and charges dropped. Almost all the functionaries have been let go, as have 11 out of 12 arrested mayors, and governor Godoy let it be known that shortly Miguel García Hurtado, who was notably his state attorney general/prosecutor and the top man to be accused of aiding La Familia, will be released as well 

Yet back to Godoy Toscano. On Monday, a Michoacán judge granted him the restoration of his full political rights, meaning that the governor's brother may now technically be sworn in as a national deputy. However, one arrest warrant for the alleged ties to organized crime in Michoacán is still valid, so the PGR/PF therefore is attempting to snatch Godoy Toscano before this swearing in. 

Governor Godoy, argued "there is a persecution, there is an unusual harasssment" of Godoy Toscanao. It is, to be sure, quite noteworthy that the accused has sought and successfully obtained, on three occasions, an amparo, or injunction, against being apprehended, yet for every stay a new arrest warrant has been issued by different judges. So far, one was issued in Nayarit, two in Tamaulipas, and a one Jalisco.

PRD considers it a political plot;  PRD president Jesús Ortega denounced the now fourth (and counting) order of apprehension a "a persecution that has no legal reasons and only political-electoral motives," calling for Attorney General-Federal Prosecutor Arturo Chávez Chávez to step down. The case is murky. If Godoy Toscano is sworn in, the public may indeed perceive this quite negatively as a possible move simply to obtain legal immunity. Yet at the same time, while it would be a terrible scenario if Godoy Toscanao and the 30-odd other functionaries and politicians were guilty yet are freed due to police incompetence, it is a far more serious scenario if, as both Ortega and governor Godoy has suggested, this is indeed a political persecution, ahead of upcoming elections in Michoacán, where Felipe Calderón's sister is a veyr likely PAN candidate. Hopefully, time will tell. In the meantime, Godoy Toscano should follow his brother's advice to turn himself in. 

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