honig at otc.net
Thu Mar 26 10:30:19 PST 1998
Mexican wiretapping scandal places
political reforms in doubt
March 26, 1998
By Mark Stevenson, Associated Press
MEXICO CITY (AP) When members of
an opposition party burst into a secret
government wiretapping station this
month, they did more than reveal a
political scandal: They exposed some of
the deepest secrets of common citizens
in the coastal city of Campeche.
The wiretapping, apparently orchestrated
by the state government to get
information on opposition groups, has
spawned a scandal that reaches into at
least four other states. In most cases,
opposition politicians were the targets.
But nowhere has the damage been as
great as in Campeche, where a powerful eavesdropping system set
up in a private home had the capacity to tap virtually all phones in
the southern city of 200,000 people and record some of their
darkest lies and infidelities.
"We stood there in shock, in rage, impotence, as we heard
recordings and read transcripts of our telephone conversations,''
said Layda Sansores, a senator for the leftist opposition Democratic
Revolution Party who discovered the surveillance center on a tip.
"There are difficult moments over the course of seven years, things
you don't want to remember.''
"We heard a tape of one telephone call in which a man said he was
with another man's wife. The wife was there in the room with us,
listening,'' Sansores said at a news conference Wednesday.
A local journalist present during the March 3 raid on the
surveillance center was quoted in one wiretap transcript as denying
accusations of rape, noting he `just had fun with' an unidentified
woman. "We haven't seen him in public since,'' Sansores said.
The taping in the city on the Gulf of Mexico, which used
sophisticated computer equipment supplied by an Israeli firm,
apparently began in 1991. Three men caught operating the bank of
computers and phone switches have been arrested and charged with
espionage and criminal association. Two had worked at some point
for state police.
"We are a small family in Campeche, and this hurts our very
fabric,'' Sansores said.
Documents uncovered by Sansores in the tiny, computerized
wiretapping center including dozens of tapes and transcripts of
her own conversations "and those of everyone around me, nieces,
sisters, my parents'' suggest the eavesdropping was paid for by
the Campeche state government.
The current government, which took office in late 1997, has
blamed the wiretapping on a previous state governor and said the
current governor didn't know about it.
Experts and politicians disagree on whether Mexico is experiencing
a surge in wiretappings and surveillance, at a time when opposition
groups are threatening the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party's
69-year uninterrupted grip on power.
Sansores claims that there are up to 22 of the eavesdropping
stations around the country, and mentioned four other states where
her supporters or party colleagues believe they have evidence of
On March 18, authorities seized a network of phone-tapping
equipment and secret cameras in Monterrey that reportedly had
been rented by politicians and businessmen in the northern city.
Several weeks earlier, a top official in the Mexico City government
and also from the Democratic Revolution Party the first
opposition party ever to govern the capital said she found two
tiny surveillance cameras in her office.
"There is a new way of doing things when a new group comes to
power,'' said Joel Estudillo, an analyst at the Mexican Institute of
Political Studies. "Politicians say, `We have to find out what these
people have done''' in the past.
In a closed political circle like that which has dominated Mexico for
most of the century, secrets like past corruption are often known
but seldom publicized until a grudge or a competition makes such
information a valuable weapon, Estudillo said.
"Those kinds of understandings and internal arrangements have so
far prevented espionage from becoming a big problem.''
David Honig Orbit Technology
honig at otc.net Intaanetto Jigyoubu
Maybe them boys in Jonesboro were trying out for Lon Horiuchi's job.
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