Caller: Gov't taps Mexico pres candidate's calls

AP News
Posted: Mar 26, 2012 10:11 PM
Caller: Gov't taps Mexico pres candidate's calls

A top campaign worker for presidential aspirant Josefina Vazquez Mota filed a criminal complaint Monday asking for an investigation into an illegally made recording in which a woman said to be the candidate mocks the government for tapping her phone.

In a recording posted by a Mexican political news website, the caller is discussing campaign strategy with an aide when she suddenly sends a "warm hello" to the head of Mexico's federal police, "who is recording us instead of recording El Chapo."

The caller jokes that both Public Security Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna and government spokeswoman Alejandra Sota are tapping or infiltrating her calls, implying that political spying is more important to the government than catching Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, among the world's most-wanted drug lords.

Agustin Torres, a congressman who heads Vazquez Mota's social media campaign, told Radio Formula that he was the other voice in the call. But he did not confirm the contents and said the tape should be checked for editing.

Torres filed a criminal complaint with the attorney general against whoever was responsible for the illegal recording.

"We are not accusing anyone in our complaint," Torres said after filing the complaint. "It's up to authorities to accuse those found responsible based on an investigation done according to the law.

"Say hello to them, Agus," the woman on the recording said, and then used mild profanity to describe Sota, "who infiltrates all of our telephone calls."

"In spite of that we're going to win," she said, laughing.

Garcia Luna and Sota are top officials in the government of President Felipe Calderon of the National Action Party. The call apparently took place leading up to the PAN primary in January, which Vazquez Mota won over Ernesto Cordero, a candidate reportedly favored by Calderon's team.

Vazquez Mota and Calderon are not political allies, even though they're both in the same party.

Vazquez Mota, who is trailing in the polls, must persuade voters to give her party a third term after little has changed during 12 years of PAN rule other than Calderon's offensive against organized crime. More than 47,000 people have died from drug violence so far in his term.

Vazquez Mota, speaking to MVS radio Monday, said she hadn't heard the recording and couldn't verify its authenticity. But she called the recording a "serious crime."

The recording was sent by email to a reporter for The Broken Chair, a Mexican website for political news, editor Felipe Gonzalez said. He said he didn't know the source.

The call had been posted on YouTube since Friday, he added, but because of the visit to Mexico by Pope Benedict XVI over the weekend, Mexican news media just started picking up on it Monday.

Gonzalez said the posting got so much traffic, it crashed the website for a time.

Leaking damaging phone calls is standard political fare in Mexico. The country's presidential campaign officially begins Friday.

Most recently, a leaked telephone conversation showed a reputed drug cartel leader threatening residents of a town to vote in favor of his mayoral candidate in November local elections in the western state of Michoacan. The drug boss reportedly also claimed a rival cartel financed the campaign of the other party.