(Excerpted from Bordering on Chaos - Guerrillas, Stockbrokers,
Politicians and Mexico's Road to Prosperity.
By Andres Oppenheimer. First published by Little, Brown & Company.
Reprinted with permission of International Creative Management, Inc.
Copyright (c)1996 by Andres Oppenheimer. All rights reserved.
The more than two dozen personal guards of former president Salinas. who by now
had been out of power for nearly three months, jumped into their bullet-proof
Jetta vans. As the vehicles dashed off at full speed, they loaded their Uzi
submachine guns and 9 mm Browning pistols. They were going to the southern
Mexico City neighborhood of Las Aguilas: Salinas had just ordered them to rush
to the home of his sister, Adriana, at 62 Costa Street, where their brother
Raul was staying. Their orders: to stop Raul's impending capture by government
agents. More than seventy elite troops of the Federal Judicial Police and the
Presidential Guard, clad in black uniforms and bullet proof vests, were
approaching the house from all directions. Civilian clad police sharpshooters,
who had arrived in the neighborhood hours earlier were beginning to take up
positions on the roofs of nearby buildings They were armed to the teeth, just
in case Raul tried to resist arrest-- or the former president's guards tried to
prevent his capture. . .
It was Tuesday morning, February 28, I995. For a few moments, as the two armed
convoys zigzagged their way through Mexico City's traffic-congested streets
toward Adriana's house, it looked as though Mexico were headed for a small
civil war. It was a key moment in Mexico's temporary history: Salinas, one of
its strongest presidents in recent times, the architect of Mexico's economic
opening, was widely believed to be the real power behind the country's rookie
president. More than half of Zedillo's cabinet was made up of Salinas
loyalists, and the former president had spent the previous weeks touring the
world to promote his U.S. and Mexico backed candidacy to head the World Trade
Organization. Salinas's bodyguards, who were also members of the Presidential
Guard, the military unit in charge of protecting current and former government
officials, had not thought twice when Salinas ordered them to protect Raul from
the other government troops, including some of their own comrades. It did not
cross their minds at the time that their boss was no longer calling the shots:
For as far back as the young military men could remember, Salinas had been the
most powerful man in Mexico, in or out of office.
But Salinas's guards were only a few blocks away from their destination, ready
to jump out of their Jettas and set up a defensive cordon in front of Adriana's
house, when a stern voice over their vehicles' military radio system forced
them to come to a sudden stop. It was General Roberto Miranda, chief of the
Presidential Guard, with orders that left no room for misunderstanding. "Stop
that action!" General Miranda recalls having shouted over the radio. "It's an
The operation to arrest Raul Salinas had been approved from the very top ---
the President Zedillo himself. Raul's own bodyguards, also members of the
Presidential Guard, had just been ordered to leave their positions and allow
the Federal Judicial Police officers to carry out the arrest. The Jettas
carrying the troops that were to defend Raul stood still for a few seconds,
their engines still idling. Then they turned around and slowly began to head
back to where they had come from. Minutes later, a defeated Raul Salinas was
led out of the house escorted by prosecutors and police agents. Clad in a gray
suit and tie, he kept his head down, holding his hands behind his back even
though he had not been handcuffed. A bloody confrontation between Salinas's
guards and Zedillo's Federal Judicial Police, which could have triggered a
wider conflict, had been averted by a matter of seconds.