Wednesday, November 29, 2023

News agency chief accuses union leader of running ‘mafia of corruption’

The head of Mexico’s state news agency today accused its union leader of corruption and nepotism, charging that he embezzled government funds and placed family members on the agency’s payroll.

Speaking at the presidential press conference, Notimex director Sanjuana Martínez said the union led by Conrado García Velasco was like a “brotherhood” or “mafia.”

The whereabouts of more than 4 million pesos the union received from the government between 2015 and 2017 and which should have been distributed among Notimex employees is unknown, she said.

Martínez said that a review of Notimex’s payroll detected the presence of 330 people who don’t actually work at the agency.

She also said that García’s wife, three children, two brothers, a nephew, an uncle and two alleged lovers of the union leader were on the payroll.

Notimex union boss García.
Notimex union boss García.

“Only the union leader hired and fired personnel, which diminished the quality of the news,” she said.

Martínez also accused García of using government or union funds to pay for 28 national and international trips on which he was accompanied by family members.

In addition, she claimed that in the past Notimex was prohibited from publishing content that was critical of the government and its members or which reported on the discovery of hidden graves or missing people.

Presenting publicity as news was “normalized” at the agency and its employees received payments in exchange, Martínez said.

A report published by the newspaper El Universal before this morning’s news conference said that García is under investigation by the Secretariat of Public Administration (SFP) for improper use of public resources, conflict of interest and influence peddling.

SFP sources told El Universal that the investigations started months ago.

García presented his resignation as a Notimex reporter at the start of the new government’s administration but it wasn’t accepted to ensure that he will face the accusations against him, the newspaper said.

The report said that García’s wife, Irene Rodríguez, is employed as a correspondent in Chicago, while his daughter, Angélica Atzin García, works as a reporter and was granted a Notimex scholarship to live in China.

The latter’s previous experience was in visual arts rather than journalism.

Before Martínez’s appearance at this morning’s press conference, recently fired Notimex journalists protested outside the National Palace against what they say were unfair dismissals.

They also said they haven’t received full severance pay and called for the resignation of the Notimex chief.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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