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The Arrest of Raul Salinas
(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 order!"'

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.

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