Friday, April 17, 2015

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

So far, the Mexican Consulate in Chicago and the National Museum of Mexican Art have not released any revenue generated during the 2014 "El Grito" event and Carlos Tortolero, President of the Fiestas Patrias Committee resigned from the group over personal reasons.

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

April 17, 2015

Chicago, Illinois - On Friday, Vicente C. Serrano, the radio host for Sin Censura Spanish language radio program at 750 AM in Chicago reported that the Chicago Law firm of Ancel Glink, Diamond, Bush, DiCianni and Krafthefer, P.C. representing the Mexican Consulate in Chicago and Mexican Consul Carlos Jiménez Macias sent a notice of retraction/settlement on March 11, 2015 seeking $350,000 to prevent any legal action against the radio program and La Bodega, Ltd. owner Adolfo Vega for exposing inappropriate requests for funding for the 2014 Grito event by three consulate staff workers in conjunction with the National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA). El Grito de la Independencia de Mexico is the Midnight shout of the Mexican Independence celebration on September 16.
Serrano stated, "I have 350K reasons to curse, but I will limit my comment to, I'm a shame and sad that the Mexican government of President Enrique Peña Nieto has decided to censor rather then to have transparency. Mexican nationals are still waiting for accountability of funds (generated by the Consulate and the National Museum of Mexican Art)."
The Peña Nieto narco-government has rather taken steps to possibly file a lawsuit claiming dafamation of three Consulate workers and one who was recorded asking a business owner to donate money between $10K to $15K for the Grito event to the NMMA, but the Consulate would actually get the funds under the table and a receipt for tax credit would be provided to the business donating by the NMMA. The NMMA had been used for its non-profit status by the Mexican Consulate in Chicago under Consul Jiménez Macias. The NMMA director Carlos Tortolero was elected President of the Fiestas Patrias Committee for the Grito event. An affiliated Council for Transparency of the Fiestas Patrias was created as well headed by Maria Prado. Prado has yet to comply with requests to release the revenues generated by NMMA and the Consulate.
Tortolero recently resigned as head of the Fiesta Patrias, according to Serrano. Serrano did not confirm, if the NMMA will continue to allow Consul Jiménez Macias to use the Museum for its non-profit 501(c) (3) status to collect revenue for the Grito event.
Serrano vowed during his program on Friday that if the lawsuit is filed by the Mexican Consulate in Chicago against him and Vega for dafamation, Sin Censura could be forced to stop airing its radio program citing lack of funds to challenge the lawsuit by the Consulate. But Serrano says he will challenge the dafamation lawsuit even if it breaks him.
Serrano says, that the Mexican Consulate in Chicago or the NMMA have not released any generated revenue for the Mexican El Grito event and the Mexican government has not released how much funding it gave the Mexican Consulate in Chicago for El Grito event, but rather attempt to censor than to have transparency of the Mexican Peña Nieto narco-government. 
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. Ancel Glink claims that Vega illegally recorded their conversation without letting both Joule and Duran know or without their permission in violation of the Illinois Eavesdropping Act. That on September 5, 2014, Serrano aired an edited version of the conversation and included edited phrases not said by Joule or Duran and made false allegations about them and the Mexican Consulate in Chicago. Ancel Glink provided a March 25, 2015 deadline to retract the allegations and to pay $350K in damages or face a lawsuit.
According to Serrano who confirmed that the Mexican Consulate in Chicago under Consul Jiménez Macias had authorized the law firm to ask for $350,000 and a retraction to avoid filing a dafamation lawsuit against Sin Censura Radio host and Vega.
Serrano during the morning radio program received support from three Chicago Mexican community leaders including Luis Pelao who offered to provide legal assistance, if needed.
Mexican federal Senator Benjamin Robles (PRD) has vowed during Serrano’s radio program to investigate Consul Jiménez Macias threat of dafamation 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.
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. 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 has released the fiscal report for El Grito to HNNUSA. Tortolero said, that he doesn't know if the Mexican government ever gave any funds to the Mexican Consulate for the Grito event.
Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA) has attempted to contact both Consul Jiménez Macias and the law firm to comment on the $350K request and allegations of dafamation. 

Letter to Adolfo Vega owner of La Bodega, Ltd. from Ancel Glink dated March 11, 2015.

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 represenatives 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."
Editors note: The fiscal report does not include the amount of funding that the Mexican government gave the Mexican Consulate in Chicago for the Grito event in 2014.

On August 20, 2014, Evelia Rodríguez, Media Director for La Sociedad Cívica Mexicana (SCM) of Illinois wrote a letter to Lic. José Antonio Meade Kuribrena, the Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs that oversees Consulates claiming that Consul Carlos Jiménez Macias had created an organization (the Fiesta Patrias Committee-FPC) for the purpose to collect funds on behalf of the Mexican Consulate in Chicago. Allegations that Carlos Tortolero as director of the non-profit National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA) and who was elected as President of the FPC was used so that businesses could donate thousands of dollars to the NMMA that would eventually be transferred to the Consulate account, without any checks ever being made out to the Mexican Consulate in Chicago or Consul Jiménez Macias were made. Tortolero says, no funds were ever made to the FPC or the Consulate through NMMA. Consul Jiménez Macias, the Mexican Consulate in Chicago, FPC or the NMMA have not provided any accountability of how much revenue was generated for the Grito event in 2014, including how much the Mexican government funding it had received as well for the annual event. Tortolero recently resigned as the President of the NMMA over personal reasons.
Rodríguez indicated that Consul Jiménez Macias began to divide the community and causing the SCM to lose sponsors who had helped the organization sponsor the Grito event for 44 years.

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