Saturday, April 18, 2015

Eavesdropping And $350K Defamation Lawsuit Brewing Between Mexican Consulate And Several Chicago Businessmen

The Mexican Consulate in Chicago is claiming through a local law firm that a businessmen recorded a telephone conversation between two of its agents and a businessmen over a request to donate and funnel at least $10K from El Grito event in 2014 by using a non-profit entity, but the Consulate would actually get the funds, apparently the agents were exposed after it went public for doing something deemed inappropriate.

By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.

April 18, 2015

Chicago, Illinois - An international incident is brewing between the Mexican Consulate in Chicago and several businessmen over an alleged Illinois Eavesdropping Act violation over a questionable donation request and making a telephone recorded conversation between two Mexican Consulate agents and a businessman public. The Mexican Consulate agents in a telephone conversation wanted Adolfo Vega, the owner of Bodega, Ltd. to donate at least $10K to the non-profit National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA) and in returned the NMMA would provide a receipt for whatever amount and the funds would then be funneled to the Consulate account. 
The NMMA President and Founder Carlos Tortolero was elected as the President of the Fiestas Patrias Committee (FPC) last year, which Consul Carlos Jiménez Macias and members of the Chicago Mexican community created. The NMMA non-profit status would then be used by the Mexican Consulate in Chicago to raise funds for its Grito event. Tortolero recently resigned from the Committee.
When contacted, Tortolero confirmed to Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA) that he had resigned on March 30 or the 31 and the FPC has not met to replace him as President. Tortolero stated, "I resigned as President of the Committee and as a member of the committee. When I was elected President. I stated numerous times that it would be for just one year. I attended the 2013 Grito at Grant Park and unfortunately it was a disaster. "Consequently, I wanted to work hard to ensure that it would be a great event in 2014. The Committee organized a great event in 2014 with over 8,000 people attending. Portions of the event were broadcast across the country and to Mexico. I resigned as the President for two reasons. Being President of the Museum requires a tremendous amount of time. Also my mom was dying of cancer (She died last Saturday) and we were taking turns caring for her at my house.
"Interestingly, only twice has there been a public report of the funding and expenses of the Grito and both times, it occurred when the Museum was involved. I forgot exactly what year it was about 10 years ago, the Museum served as the fiscal agent and a full report was given. Earlier this year, a full fiscal report was given to about 80 people and reviewed by Maria Prado, a well respected auditor.
"The Museum never received any funds. In fact, whenever the subject came up about what to do with any excess funds, I said that the Museum is not interested in receiving funds and if we have any excess funds that they should go to future Gritos or to support educational programs done by other arts groups and not the Museum.
"Obviously, with my resignation, there will be some changes such as the museum being the fiscal agent that will be resolved once a new President is selected by the committee." Tortolero released the fiscal report of El Grito to HNNUSA. Tortolero said, that he doesn't know if the Mexican government ever gave any funds to the Consulate for the Grito event.
Maria Prado is the current President of the Council for Transparency for the Fiestas Patrias 2014.
El Grito de la Independencia de Mexico is the Midnight shout of the Mexican Independence celebration on September 16.
The recorded conversation in question was made public by Vicente C. Serrano, the radio host for Sin Censura in Chicago's 750 AM Spanish language radio program last September. Serrano and other Mexican nationals had requested for the Mexican Consulate in Chicago, the Fiesta Patrias Committee (FPC), the Council for Transparency for the Fiesta Patrias 2014, NMMA and the Mexican government to release the revenues generated through the inappropriate fundraising tactics. None of the groups involved have released the funding sources and revenues generated for the Grito event, except Tortolero who released a statement.
The Ancel Glink law firm who is representing the Mexican Consulate in Chicago sent a letter of notice to Vega that included Serrano and requested a retraction/settlement and $350K in damages for defamation against the Consulate and it's agents. Glink claims the exposed telephone recorded conversation was altered and has damaged the reputation of the Mexican Consulate in Chicago. Mexican nationals in Chicago might dispute that claim in a joint counter lawsuit.
Serrano during his Friday morning show made the Ancel Glink letter requesting $350K public and he wanted to know who was actually paying for the law firm to represent the Consulate. Lic. José Antonio Meade Kuribrena, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs who oversees the Consulate has not confirmed, if the Mexican government has agreed  to allow one of its Consulates in the U.S. to sue Mexican nationals for exposing inappropriate activity on behalf of their government. The Mexican nationals in Chicago have requested for the total revenue that it provided the Consulate to sponsor the annual El Grito event, including revenue generated by the groups on behalf of the Consulate. Also, who actually benefited from those funds or donations? 
Another question, does the Eavesdropping Act apply between Mexican Consulate agents and Mexican nationals in the U.S.? Did the Mexican Consulate agents made those calls from the Consulate in Chicago, which is considered foreign? And who benefits from the $350K, the Mexican government or Consul Jiménez Macias and the Mexican Consulate agents involved?
In 2014, two Consulate workers, Alfonso Rosas Joule, in charge of Community Organizations for the Consulate and Ricardo Duran, the Consulate Office Coordinator were requesting up to $10,000 of sponsorships for the Grito event in behalf of the Consul General Jiménez Macias.
It is the first time in Mexico's government history that a Mexican Consulate in the U.S. has ever attempted to file a defamation lawsuit against someone exposing inappropriate activity by its Consulate staff workers and attempting to keep Mexican nationals abroad from exposing such activities in the U.S.
The Ancel Glink law firm gave a March 25, 2015 deadline for a retraction and for Vega and Serrano to pay $350K or a defamation lawsuit would be filed. If the lawsuit is filed, Vega and Serrano would definitely request all of the revenues generated by the groups for the Mexican Consulate in Chicago El Grito event. Consul Jiménez Macias would have no option, but to release any of El Grito revenue totals and who benefited.
Serrano has received support from community leaders and even one has offered attorney's to challenge the Mexican Consulate's defamation lawsuit citing that Mexican nationals have a right to know how much funding was generated for the Grito event.
Mexican federal Senator Benjamin Robles (PRD) has vowed during Serrano's radio program on Friday to investigate Consul Jiménez Macias threat of defamation lawsuit against any Mexican national in the U.S. and the lack of transparency of funds for the Grito event. Robles confirmed he will put legal attorney's to investigate and will bring the matter to the Mexican federal General Senate Assembly to look into the allegations raised by Serrano.
Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA) has contacted Ancel Glink, Consul Jiménez Macias, Alderman George A. Cardenas, the VP for FPC and Prado for comment, but none have responded yet.

Tortolero released the fiscal report for El Grito event to Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
Tortolero stated, "Please note that this report was given on March 6 to about 80 Representatives of Chicago's Mexican community at the Museum.   There has been complete transparency.
Also as you can see, not only did the Museum not receive money, we gave money to El Grito.  My Business Director had charged the account for the food that was served at several meetings, but I decided that the Museum would pay for the food.
There is still a payment due to Elemento, the firm that was hired to produce the event - stage, lights, security, etc."
Elemento L2 was paid over $50K to do event, according to the Fiestas Patrias Committee 2014 fiscal report. Tortolero said that Elemento L2 was chosen over two other vendors to do El Grito event. "There was a committee that was formed that met with three different vendors. Elemento was actually selected over a much better known event group that the City had recommended. Elemento did a excellent job and had no relationship with either the Museum or the Consul. "I never heard of them until their proposal was presented and we interviewed them. Everyone who went to the event commented on their professionalism," Tortolero stated.
Editors note: The fiscal report does not include how much funding the Mexican government gave the Mexican Consulate in Chicago for the Grito event in 2014.

AUDIO  Vicente C. Serrano, Chicago's Sin Censura Radio host interview with H. Nelson Goodson from Hispanic News Network U.S.A. over El Grito Fiestas Patrias 2014 budget, Mexican Consulate in Chicago defamation lawsuit over alleged eavesdropping recording and transparency requests by Mexican nationals.

Audio recording of Alfonso Rosas Joule, in charge of Community Organizations for the Consulate

Full story at: Mexican Consulate Of Chicago Seeks Retraction And $350K From Sin Censura Over "El Grito" Transparency Request

No comments: