September 15, 2000


RENAVE a Pandora's Box

By Enrique Davis-Mazlum

In 1998 President Ernesto Zedillo sent a bill to the Senate that would create the National Registration of Vehicles Agency known as RENAVE (Registro Nacional de Vehiculos). The purpose of RENAVE was to create a national database of all vehicles in Mexico that would assign a special serial number and a chip to each vehicle. This would reduce the number of stolen vehicles or it would be easier to track down those that were stolen. This bill allowed the Secretary of Commerce to hire a private agency that would be responsible for the registration of all vehicles in Mexico. On August 27th 1999 the solicitation was won by a consortium between the companies HDS, Talsud and Gemplus. This consortium announced that each 2000 model vehicle would pay a fee of $350.00 pesos (about $38.00 dlls) starting May 2nd, 2000 and all 1999 or older models would pay a fee of $100 pesos (about $11.00 dlls) starting June 15th, 2000 and after December 15th, 2000 there would be tickets issued that amounted to 500 to 1000 minimum salaries ($2,500.00 dlls - $5,000.00 dlls).

The fee does not seem that high, but in Mexico vehicles have to pay several types of taxes, license plates and on top of all that a new fee for registering vehicles. Many argued that RENAVE is needed, but if all states turned in their vehicle data bases to RENAVE a second fee is not needed. On July 27th, 2000 a group 25 taxi drivers protested outside the main offices of RENAVE in Mexico City. This protest opened Pandora's Box of RENAVE. Days after the protest started Chief Governor Rosario Robles of Mexico City and Governors of the States of Baja California and Chihuahua rejected the signing of an agreement that would implement RENAVE in those states. Jurist Ignacio Burgoa and law specialist Raul Carranca and Sergio Alcazar mention that by giving the solicitation to a private company to take care of RENAVE instead of a government agency is unconstitutional, suspicious, corrupt and an immoral decision.

On August 19, 2000 seventeen Priista Governors (member of the Institutionalized Revolutionary Party _PRI) protest officially against RENAVE. The situation gets worse, the Secretary of Commerce Erminio Blanco is questioned about the decision and does not budge. He says that the program will continue and that it is necessary. The majority of the people in Mexico agree that the program is necessary, but they don't agree with a fee and that a private company would have control of the information. The Director of RENAVE Ricardo Miguel Cavallo addresses the issue on three of the major news stations in Mexico (CNI Canal 40, TV Azteca and Televisa). After these declarations Cavallo is identified as an ex-military member in Argentina who participated actively in genocide events that took place during the Argentinean Dictatorship. After these accusations two of the major newspapers in Mexico (REFORMA and MILENIO DIARIO) start investigating the accusations.

On August 24th, 2000 the INTERPOL in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico, arrests Ricardo Miguel Cavallo. Members of the LVIII Congress have asked for the resignation of Erminio Blanco, Secretary of Commerce and the closing of RENAVE during the past month. Even after all of these scandals Secretary Erminio Blanco stayed firm on his decision of continuing with the program, until Raul Ramos Tercero Sub-Secretary of Regulations and Industrial Services and Exterior Commerce committed suicide on September 7th, 2000. Sub-Secretary Ramos was in charge of the promotion and instrumentation of RENAVE. Ramos Tercero left a total of six letters which he wrote before he committed suicide in a camp area in the State of Mexico (about 30 minutes outside of Mexico City).

The PRI will present a new bill that consist of seven main points: 1) RENAVE will continue to exist because of public interest (fight against crime); 2) it will be handled by the Federal Government; 3) it will become a public entity that will guarantee the registration of all vehicles; 4) will use the infrastructure that is available right now; 5) there will be no registration fee; 6) distributors of newer vehicles will absorb the cost and 7) and the cost of older vehicles will be eliminated with agreements between the Federal Government and State Governments which will provide their existing data bases.

While the Mexican Government tries to determine what to do with RENAVE, the investigation to determine if the cause of death Raul Ramos Tercero was suicide continues. And at the same time Baltasar Garzon, National Audience Judge of Spain (Juez de la Audiencia Nacional de España) demanded the Ministry of Spanish Justice to ask for the extradition of Ricardo Miguel Cavallo through diplomatic agreements. Ricardo Miguel Cavallo who would be tried for actively participating in genocide events during the Argentinean Dictatorship. Garzon already has the declarations of 18 people who can identify Cavallo as an ex-military member in Argentina. Argentina is also trying to find evidence that would allow them to ask for the extradition of Cavallo.

Secretary of Commerce Erminio Blanco did not know that by giving the rights to a private company to handle RENAVE was opening a Pandora's Box. Secretary Blanco leaves office on November 30th and instead of leaving with his chin up, will leave face down. His big project turned out to be a total disaster, his friend (Ramos Tercero) and also a really close friend of President Zedillo committed suicide because of pressure of RENAVE and the Director of RENAVE turned out to be an ex-military member who participated in genocide events in Argentina. When will this box close?

Enrique Davis-Mazlum, attends ITAM in Mexico City, studying for his Masters in Public Policy.

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