New transparency law would allow access to public information of funding sources allocated from the Mexican government to eliminate corruption and bribes. The Mexican government gave a mere $3,350 to sponsor the Grito event in 2014, according to a press conference at the Consulate General of Mexico in Chicago today.
By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
May 5, 2015
Mexico, D.F. – On Monday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI) announced that he signed the Transparency of Public Information bill into law making easier for the public to access public funding information from the Mexican federal government. The bill was created to eliminate corruption, bribes and kickbacks to government workers, public officials and elected legislators.
Under the bill, the federal, state and local governments will have to release information relating to public funding it received and how it was spent, including any audit or how much public funding was provided to other government agencies, Mexican Consulates, government contracts, political parties and etc.
The Mexican government transparency law has yet to be tested, but in the U.S. a protest and rally is scheduled for Wednesday, May 6, at 11:00 a.m. in front of the Consulate General of Mexico, 204 S. Ashland Ave. in Chicago. Mexican nationals are calling on Consul Carlos Jiménez Macias for transparency of the Grito event.
El Grito de la Independencia de Mexico is the Midnight shout of the Mexican Independence celebration on September 16.
Currently in Chicago, Illinois, Mexican nationals and the Sin Censura Radio program with Vicente C. Serrano had requested for the Consulate General of Mexico in Chicago (CGMC) and Mexican Consul Jiménez Macias to release information relating to how much the Secretary of Foreign Affairs has provided in funding to the Consulate for the Grito event in 2014. Consul Jiménez Macias had refused to release any information or whether the Consulate received any public funding from the federal government for last year’s event.
But on Tuesday, Sin Censura reported that the Secretary of Foreign Affairs gave the Consulate in Chicago a total of $3,350 or a total cost for 33 passports. Consul Jiménez Macias failed to inform the Fiestas Patrias Committee and the Transparency Council for the Fiestas Patrias of the fund allocation from the Mexican Consulate.
Last year, at least three Consulate staff workers under Consul Jiménez Macias were working to collect donations for the Grito event raising a question of conflict of interest. Consul Jiménez Macias created the Fiestas Patrias Committee 2014 and a Transparency Council for Fiestas Patrias. Consul Jiménez Macias and Fiestas Patrias 2014 then used the National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA) for its fiscal agent and non-profit status for collecting funds.
Carlos Tortolero, the former Fiestas Patrias Committee 2014 President and Director and Founder for the NMMA released the fiscal report to Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA) for the Grito event, but the report didn’t show, if the Mexican Consulate received any funding for the Grito event. According to prior letter made public by Tortolero, he mentioned that the Secretary of Foreign Affairs had limited funding to provide Consulates for the event. Tortolero told HNNUSA that he didn’t know, if Consul Jiménez Macias had received any funding. So where did the Grito funding of $3,350 went too? According to a press conference held today by the Fiestas Patrias Committee and Consul Jiménez Macias at the Consulate, they confirmed that the $3,350 funding was used to pay for a VIP dinner for the Fiestas Patrias Committee and 400 who were invited at the NMMA, but HNNUSA found it was not reported in the fiscal report.
When contacted by HNNUSA after the Fiestas Patrias and Consulate press conference on Tuesday, Tortolero stated, “The fiscal report that I released contained only the checks that had the Museum’s name on them for deposit. I did know that the Consul paid for the VIP reception, but since the funds were not deposited though the museum, then those funds could not be recorded by the Museum.
“I did not know where the funds came from that the Consul used to pay for the reception, but very early on, he said that his office would pay for the reception.”
So far, an $18,896.84 plus a $3,350 totaling $22,246.84 discrepancy is showing in the Fiestas Patrias 2014 El Grito fiscal report.
During a Sin Censura broadcast last week, Serrano confirmed that more than $18,896.84 in discrepancy exists in the Fiestas Patrias fiscal report, including a pending sponsorship payment of $10K from the Walgreens Corp. and two transactions of $3.5K paid directly from a tourism source to Elemento L2 and a direct payment from Comcast to Elemento L2 of $5K, which were not included in the fiscal report tabulation released to HNNUSA by former Fiestas Patrias Committee 2014 President Tortolero.
Serrano says, that Omar López, a spokesman for the Fiestas Patrias Committee 2014 on January 30 confirmed that a contract between Elemento L2 who managed the Grito event and the Committee totaled $78,793.59, but the fiscal report released by Tortolero only reported it paid $59.896.75 to Elemento L2 and that the Committee still owed Elemento L2 $6K and it owed $2K for publicity to a service provider from the state of Guanajuato.
López claimed in an interview with Serrano that there was a long list of contributors that included local businesses, corporations and companies, but the fiscal report by the Fiestas Patrias 2014 doesn’t show that many contributors.
According to the fiscal report for Fiestas Patrias, the total donations received were $61,541,74 and the total disbursement was $60,777.83, with a remaining profit of $763.91.
The Fiestas Patrias fiscal report indicates it only made $61,541.74 in donations, but according to López the contract with Elemento L2 totaled $78,793.59, a negative or deficit of $17,251.85.
The Elemento L2 break down of the services it provided to the Fiestas Patrias 2014 to charge $78,793.59 was not included in the release of the fiscal report by Tortolero to HNNUSA.
Mexican nationals seeking services (legal documents, passports, La Matricula ID and etc.) are a major funding source for the CGMC. The CGMC is also a major source for generating revenue for the Mexican government from services rendered to Mexican nationals in the tri-state area (WI, IN, IL). After all expenses and payroll is paid out to Consulate staff, including Consuls, the CGMC has about $8M in profit left annually. Which, the Mexican government helps fund other less revenue generating Consulates in the U.S., according to a source at the Secretary of Foreign Affairs.
On Tuesday, Mexican Cónsul Carlos Jiménez Macias alleged that Sin Censura radio program has not reported the accurate facts about the fiscal report from Fiestas Patrias Committee 2014, but he failed to clarify or comment about his allegations to Vicente C. Serrano, the radio host for Sin Censura. Audio of interview: http://alturl.com/mexai