Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Man detained at airport not just any old man

The federal police on Saturday detained a Mexican man at Mexico City's international airport trying to leave the country with $57,000 hidden in various parts of his suitcase, El Universal reported today.

This is nothing unusual, except for the fact that the man is not just any man, but a former El Universal reporter, Alejandro Suverza Tellez. He was well-known for his stories about narcos; the last story he wrote for El Universal was a piece on Feb. 4, 2011, about the Mexico City metrobus.

Was he guilty of something other than trying to take an illegal amount of money out of the country?

I honestly have no idea, nor do I have a hunch of any sort. I met Suverza once, in a hipster Mexico City bar. He was surrounded by young women, and seemed like the kind of guy who enjoyed the attention his stories brought him (who wouldn't? it's not as if the money for a Mexican journalist is great). He'd been to Michoacan and interviewed a leading member of La Familia, for instance; everyone was enthralled by that story. He was a tough looking guy, looked like he came from the streets, looked like he could hold his own in narco-territory. He gave me tips about how to report in Tepito, too.

You could tell he was a journalist pretty much right away. He wasn't a gangster; he didn't look rich to me. He certainly didn't appear arrogant. At times during our conversation, he came across as quite compassionate.

Was he in with the narcos? Is that where the money came from? Or was he simply a reporter eager to get the hell out of Mexico, where his only hope was to cover the drug trade for the rest of his life? (Suverza's not the sort of guy who gets promoted into the upper echelons of the Mexican media, ever.) Had he saved his money legitimately, only to try and take it out of country illegally?

When reporters who cover narcos get killed in Mexico, almost inevitably their name gets sullied with rumours that they were linked to the very same people they covered. Likewise reporters who cover any other sordid element of society. (In fact, this isn't just true of Mexico, it's true of many parts of the world.)

I don't know if Suverza crossed the line, and I sincerely hope he didn't, for his sake, that of my profession and also my initial judgment of him as a person.

I also hope there is a serious investigation into where he got the money. I sincerely hope they find that he stashed it away under the mattress, hoping to leave Mexico one day, and that the only crime he is guilty of is failing to declare his cash upon exiting the country.

Lastly, I hope El Universal fully acknowledges its relationship with Suverza and works to get the truth out. If it doesn't, well, then it's no better than those in the government who issue promises to protect reporters who cover organized crime and then fail to deliver on anything.

10 comments:

  1. Thank you for writing this, I too met him a few years ago, read what he wrote and don't want to believe that he was involved in something shady. But more than anything, I am appalled at the silence of the media he worked for.

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  2. Actually, this story was brought to light by one of El Universal's former editors, now director of Día Siete and Nexos. http://www.alejandropaez.net/05-04-2011/dardos-alejandro-suverza/

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  3. I've known Alejandro for more than 10 years. I don't believe he could do that. And I believe that this money could have been planted or the accusation fabricated, in the same way Genaro García Luna's (the boss of the national police) men have recreated reality many times, as was shown in cases like Florence Cassez'.

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  4. Alejandro is one of the country's best journalists. He also has a Colombian girlfriend. Best not to jump to conclusions.

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  5. I forgot about Alejandro's Colombian girlfriend. Again, you're right, good reason not to jump to conclusions. I'm actually wondering if this is worthy of being a news story, myself. Must be hundreds of people every week who get busted taking cash out of AICM.

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  6. Malcolm, thank you for your continued coverage. Your blog has been very good and I can't wait to read the Last Narco. Thank you.

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  7. I have known Alejandro for a long time, in professional and friendship circles. He was finishing a book on La Familia in Michoacan and is a seasoned journalist who is accutely aware of the dangers he is running with the topics he writes about. He wouldn´t have been trying to take money into Colombia for illegal purposes at the same time he was investigating organized crime activity. Something doesn´t make sense and I strongly believe his fellow collegues need to keep their eyes on the case and make sure there is transparency in the investigation and that his physical well being is ensured.

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  8. And as Malcolm said, there must be many people trying to take out more than the 10,000 dollars alloted through aduanas, but how many times has that information been released through a press release in the web page of the presidencia de la república??!! See http://www.presidencia.gob.mx/?DNA=85&page=1&Prensa=15137&Contenido=64405

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  9. es algo estupido los q lo conocemos sabemos q es un periodista destacado y con 20 años de experiencia

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  10. que mamadas escribe este huey, que arrogante-
    ...seemed like the kind of guy who enjoyed the attention his stories brought him (CUBRIENDO EL NARCO??)
    ...that of my profession and also my initial judgment of him as a person. (POBRE DE TI!)
    ...I'm actually wondering if this is worthy of being a news story, myself. (THANKYU!)

    vale madres, no debes de ir a la carcel por llevar dinero demas en el avion, no es posible. y ahora el pobre esta pudriendo en el infierno reclu sur, ahi esta tu pinche nota

    el universal no va a salir a defenderlo, veras

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