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'Diego the Boss,' conservative politician, disappears in Mexico

May 17, 2010 |  9:51 am

Jefe diego A former presidential candidate for the ruling National Action Party in Mexico (PAN) is considered missing after he disappeared from his ranch in Queretaro state over the weekend. The case is reverberating across Mexico's political power structure and --  if speculation that the high-profile figure was kidnapped is proven true -- suggests a mounting brazenness among organized drug-trafficking groups pushing back against President Felipe Calderon's anti-narcotics war.

Authorities believe Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, known informally as "Jefe Diego," or Diego the Boss, was snatched from his car Friday as he drove on his sprawling ranch in Queretaro, about two to three hours north of Mexico City.

Blood stains indicative of a struggle were found inside the vehicle, federal investigators said.

More coverage of the case in English is found at the Christian Science Monitor, the U.K. Times, the Houston Chronicle, and the Associated Press, which notes some of the controversies that have defined the career of the cigar-loving politician: "In 2005, critics of Fernandez de Cevallos accused him of building a highway with public funds to the home town of his then-girlfriend — 36 years his junior."

Fernandez is known to be a close friend of Interior Secretary Fernando Gomez Mont. The Wall Street Journal reminds readers that Fernandez de Cevallos, a former senator and lower-house representative, mysteriously stopped campaigning in the home stretch of his 1994 bid for the presidency, which eventually went to Ernesto Zedillo of the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI:

Despite repeatedly promising to clear up what happened, Mr. Fernandez never offered a full or convincing explanation. The bearded lawyer was also criticized for conflict of interest between his work as a lawmaker and his work at his law firm. For instance, he has regularly represented clients trying to win tax evasion cases against the federal government.

Another PAN politician succumbed to violence over the weekend. A National Action mayoral candidate in the state of Tamaulipas was shot to death on Thursday, and The Times reports that PAN has had trouble recruiting candidates for office in the violence-plagued state.

Tamaulipas is a stronghold of the PRI. The PRI declared victory in elections on Sunday in the state of Yucatan, a foreboding sign of electoral challenges to come for Calderon's PAN as it heads into future regional and national elections.

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: Missing politician Diego Fernandez de Cevallos. Credit: European Pressphoto

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