Over 45,700,000 pesos were spent by the Presidency of the (Mexican) Republic in 13 events; almost half of the amount was disbursed in just two of them: the Commemoration of the “Shout of Independence” (Grito de Independencia, representing the start of the Mexican Independence War in 1810, reenacted annually by the President of Mexico). According to contracts and data obtained by Contralinea through the Federal Law of Transparency and Access to Information, a single firm Actidea has been in charge of organizing the celebrations. During the first 24 months of the six-year-term the firm of the two brothers Eduardo and Mariano Gama Pizarro has obtained contracts with several federal dependencies for at least 383.5 million pesos.
Whatever the crisis may be -economic, political or social- through which Mexico is enduring, in the federal government the organization of diners, presentations and “shouts of independence” are good business.
For 13 celebrations the company Actidea SA de CV, of the brothers Eduardo and Mariano Gama Pizarro received from the Presidency of the (Mexican) Republic 45,696,276.25 pesos as reveal the contracts delivered to Contralínea throughout the Federal Law of Transparency and Access to Information and Protection of Data (request No. 021 000 009 2314), as well as the data made available on the web site of Compranet and the site of obligations on transparency.
During the last stretch of the government of Felipe Calderón 13 companies signed a “framework contract” with the Secretariat of the Public Service (Secretaría de la Función Pública)- of which Contralínea received a copy as “response to the information request No. 000 270 020 9214)- with the scope of being the only ones to be hired by the federal entities.
In the current administration, out of this group of firms, only Actidea has been demanded by Presidency without any bidding. Even with the “framework contracts” having expired, the presidential office has relied itself upon it to assign the contracts exclusively to the Gama Pizarro brothers.
Costly Shouts of Independence
On the evening of the 15ht of September 2013 hundreds of affected Mexicans by the hurricanes Ingrid and Manuel did not celebrate the Shout, neither did they have dinner, even less were they wearing elegant clothes: only the rags the tragedy didn’t take way. From the 12th to the 20th of September in the midst of patriotic holidays, the natural disasters destroyed homes and lives in 22 States of the country.
Meanwhile the terror, hunger and threat of illnesses consumed any desires to celebrate in three quarters of the country, 200 families got ready to take advantage of every dime of the 17,272,586.83 pesos spent on the festivities offered by the executive branch in the National Palace, very far away from the death and destruction provoked by the cyclones (Contract AD-062-056-13).
For the first patriotic shout of the current government of the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, Revolutionary Institutional Party), the National Palace was specially illuminated: its cost ascended to 2,454,998 pesos. The gala evening transformed the Corregidora Street in downtown Mexico City, which by day is a popular commercial area into a promenade of Suburban vans and Mercedes Benz cars, as well as drivers and body guards. In order to receive and park the armored cars, presidency paid 373,322.77 pesos.
Once in the interior of the National Palace the daughters and sons of President Enrique Peña Nieto and his spouse Angelica Rivera, as well as several politicians were received by an alley of 25 aides with knowledge in the protocol”- classified in a document with “triple A”- for which Actidea got 158,700 pesos.
In the contract AD-062-056-13 – of which Contralínea possesses a copy- made clear that the invitees were sheltered of the climate – that same evening was devastating both coastlines- under tents of up to 86 thousand pesos. In total 507,162.40 pesos were spent here; and if not being enough, 100,740.85 pesos more were allocated from the treasury for purchasing 500 raincoats and 30 umbrellas.
250 assistants dressed with suits, white shirts and bow ties served the petitions and drinks to the invitees for 330,625 pesos. The arrangements with “typically Mexican flowers” that wrapped up with their scent the “social, political and business leaders” cost 446,924.29 pesos.
On the “most Mexican evening” it is a must to eat by the colors of the flag: the banqueters gobbled up Chiles en nogada, flautas de barbacoa (barbecue flouts (fried corn tortillas), meat skewers with banana slices (no data on that amount being available); they also tasted sweets on a table with a “pine frame” whose supply cost 115,289.53 pesos.
In the appendix of the document the services provided by Actidea are described. Within 14 pages is detailed how the guests sat on 35 types of chairs, couches and benches; made out of leather, bamboo, “gourmet wood”, metal, cloth; “vintage and Chelsea”, round “rectangular, squared, high, low; white, black, red, “natural color”, “nostalgia green”, olive green, honey, tobacco color, Oxford grey and chocolate. For the rental of the tables and sitting places the Presidency disbursed 6,292,164.80 pesos.
An amount of 7,327,586.20 pesos in addition to the 1,099,137.90 pesos of “commission” were required to pay off the “artistic talent” of Mariana Seoane, Raúl Araiza, Juan José Ulloa, Martha María, Aleida Núñez, Juan Gabriel, the Ángeles Azules ( Blue Angels), Banda Carnaval, the Orquesta Trigarante, 3 Ball MTY, and América Sierra, as well as the “Destrampados Show” and the “training of clowns, Mariachi Rock, clown balls, sanqueros (stilt walkers), alebriges (Mexican Folk Art sculptures of fantastical creatures)”(sic), etc.
The fourth clause of the contract signed between the Presidency and Actidea points out that “the amount corresponding to the service delivery” was “of 15% of the basic service fee”. This was called a “commission”.
Excluding the value-added taxes and the extra commissions the celebrations of the 15th of September 2013 would have cost 12,766,694.47 pesos; including the aforementioned amounts, the total sum exceeding 17 million pesos.
A year after the members of this circle of the most benefited of the country gathered again to enjoy of the private celebration paid with public funds: For the second shout of Independence of Enrique Peña Nieto in the National Palace, offered on the evening of the 15th of September 2014, the amount reached 18,998,331.17 pesos (Contract AD-SN-036-14). Actidea once again was the organizer.
Two groups of public servants closed the year 2013 in different ways. The first group was of the employees of the state for 4 decades; the other group being barely in the first months on duty. The first one sat on “cushioned” chairs, having cost 2,065.50 pesos; the second ones sharing couches of “lounge type) for which 150 thousand pesos were disbursed (Contract AD-086.1-078-I-13 and AD-089-093-13).
On December 2013 the Presidency hired Actidea for the organization of two events which underline the inequality existing among the Mexican bureaucracy: firstly the Award Ceremony of the Public Service and stimuli and rewards, and the end-year toast with his legal and extended cabinet.
Whereas the public servants with an extended career were received in the offices of the (Banca de Desarrollo) Nacional Financiera (National Financial Development Bank, NAFIN) for the award ceremony (a commemorative medal), the businessmen, allies and friends of the president who have become secretaries and directors of something with the return of the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, Revolutionary Institutional Party) to power, had a toast in the central patio of the National Palace.
The cost of the events of the senior public servants was of 140,100.19 pesos; a lesser sum to that of the breakfast of the team of Peña Nieto (Chapata bread, Croissants, baguettes: 165 thousand pesos); for the toast of the cabinet Actidea earned 519,958.62 pesos in total.
On April 2013 the Presidency performed “Consultation Forums” of the National Development Plans 2013-2018 (Plan Nacional de Desarrollo) in the State of Mexico and in the Federal District. Both were staged by the same company.
The firm of the Gama Pizarro brothers had been tagged in the framework contract signed with the government of Calderón as possessing the level 2, with profits of at least 4,070,000 pesos annually. Already in the PRI-administration it reached level 1, i.e. with “annual gross income of 19,200,000 pesos”.
For the rental of tables, chairs, couches, computers and printers for the registration of the invitees and the press; invitations, badges, extinguishers, fans, stages and audio systems; in addition to providing coffee break services-normal and “VIP”- and 24 aides, Actidea received 2,161,839 pesos (Contract AD-030-029-13 and AD-032-030-13).
Expo Compras (Expo Procurement) paid out of the treasury
The celebrations of the presidency have not been the only ones in the benefit of Actidea. Annually an event called Expo Government Procurement (Expo Compras de Gobierno) held at the Banamex Center in which different federal dependencies with a stand in which they inform “small and big companies” about solicited products and services.
For the spot assigned to the Presidency (furniture, screens, walls, plants, illumination) of 2013 and 2014, the company of the Gama Pizarro brothers invoiced 545,192.72 pesos (Contract AD-035-031-01-13 and AD-016.1-018-I-14).
Furthermore for the presentation of the Digital National Strategy (Estrategia Digital Nacional) in charge of Peña Nieto himself and Alejandro Lagunes, the National Museum of Anthropology was filled with vinyl and tents, canvases, screens, cylindrical and cubic tables, banks (of 56540 pesos), high and low chairs, floor graphic carpets, concave plasma screens (of 306 thousand pesos), fast fold projection and video projection of 2,500 up to 20,000 lumens.
The services delivered by Actidea had a value of 1,301,520.67 pesos (Contract AD-002-00114).
For the presentation of the Alliance for an open government (Alianza para el Gobierno Abierto) the organizing company disposed of a proscenium and a stage for the press. Thereby it charged 132,656.44 pesos (Contract AD-002-00114).
Its best results were for organizing the first Regional Conference on open Data (Primera Conferencia Regional de Datos Abiertos), for which it invoiced 4,249,146.3 pesos more.
The Day of Freedom of Speech
Despite that Contralínea solicited the Contracts of all events organized by Actidea in the current administration, Presidency did not deliver the contract AD-021-021-14, registered on the site Obligations on Transparency (Obligaciones de Transparencia) as well as the updated register of Compranet, which allegedly on the 12 of June 2014 the Celebration of the Day of Freedom of Speech in Mexico was held, and which for the one 249,859.82 pesos were disbursed. Again as before the service was bid directly to the company of the Gama Brothers.
There is no report on such an event in the own log of the Presidency diffused by the web site of the Presidency nor in the mass media.
“It is essential that the federal executive branch was the first one to make an effort to rationalize the expenditure of public funds”, praised the Austerity Decree signed by the President the 7th of December 2012. Since then millions of pesos of public funds have been spent on events of the very own presidency, in always ostentatious set-ups, but never through bidding.
For this journalistic work interviews were requested to René Morquecho Macotela, the General Director of Material Resources and General Services of the Presidency of the Republic (Recursos Materiales y Servicios Generales de la Presidencia de la República), and with Mariano and Eduardo Gama Pizarro, owners of Actidea. Up to the moment of edition no reply has been received.
The minimal benefits of Actidea for the time being in the current administration
The federal public administration, the cabinet of Peña Nieto particularly –in addition to one state government (Quintana Roo, south-eastern Mexico) – has become a mine for the firm of the brothers Eduardo and Mariano Gama Pizzaro, of which they have extracted at least 383,530,623.46 pesos for the time being in the administration.
From January 2013 to November 2014 the company has signed at least 81 contracts for the mounting of acts, like the presentation of projects and the promulgation of structural reforms, receptions of sportsmen, businessmen, public servants and friends; historical, political and social commemorations, New Year’s Eve Toasts, forums, conferences…
Throughout the information requests to each entity directly- provided by the Federal Law of Transparency and Access to Information and Protection of Data- and the consultations of the official site of Obligations of Transparency (Obligaciones de Transparencia) and of Compranet Contralínea could gather the data on the obtained contracts without a bid by Actidea.
Two State Secretariats are the ones who cast the best projects to the entertainment enterprise: the Secretariat of Economy (Secretaría de Economía) and of Foreign Affairs (Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores), with 145,353,297.56 pesos and 81,010,906.92 pesos respectively. The third position is held by the Presidency itself with 45,696,276.25 pesos.
For three events the Council for Touristic Promotion (Consejo de Promoción Turística) paid 41,800,000.52 pesos, meanwhile the Secretariat (of Tourism) itself, led by Claudia Ruiz Massieu delivered 3,485,571.23 pesos more.
The fifth dependency having spent the most during the first 24 months of the current government is the Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit (Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público, SHCP); the body in charge of Luis Videgaray who has disbursed 18,792,183.68 pesos. Next is the Secretariat of the Interior (Secretaría de Gobernación, SEGOB), whose head is Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong with 8,899,899.52 pesos; however out of these almost 9 million, 6,394,241.21 pesos were allocated to a single event: the daytime ceremony to commemorate the 103rd anniversary of the Shout of Independence.
The next in the ranking is the government of the State of Quintana Roo, ruled by the also PRI-affiliated Roberto Borge Angulo. 5,815,435 pesos were triangulated in order to pay the show of the Colombian singer Carlos Vives at the Caribbean Culture Festival in 2013.
The National System for the Comprehensive Development of the Family (Sistema Nacional para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia, DIF) whose honorary head is Angélica Rivera, spouse of Peña Nieto, paid to Actidea 4,490,393.78 pesos for three events.
The Secretariat of Health, led by Mercedes Juan López disbursed 4,415,384.96 pesos for a commemoration, a launching and “several leases”.
In the case of the Churubusco Azteca Studios run by the director linked with Televisa Carlos García Argaz is notorious: the National Water Commission (Comisión Nacional del Agua) inaugurated the Macayo Dam in 2013, and instead of hiring directly Actidea for the mounting, it was the Churubusco Studios who did it, 4,058,831.67 pesos was the total amount including the production of several campaigns and even for the “input for the design and realization of the raising of the scenography” for several videos.
In its issue No. 403 Contralínea informed about the reception by Peña Nieto of sportsmen paid by the National Commission of Physical Culture and Sports, in charge of Jesús Mena. 3,771,300.41 pesos of the public treasury have been used in this sector.
The Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System, a decentralized body of the Secretariat of the Interior, for the services of a couple of sessions at the National Council assigned 3,606,407.46 pesos. For his part the Secretariat of Public Education (Secretaría de Educación Pública, SEP) spent only for the promulgation of the educational reform 2,186,780.12 pesos.
The Tax Administration Services (Servicios de Administration Tributaria, SAT), the National Institution of Women, the National Commission for the Saving Systems for the Retirements –of the SHCP-; the Secretariats of the Environment and Natural Resources and of the Public Service, and of the Federal Commission of Electricity (Comisión Federal de Electricidad, CFE) contributed to the corporate summit of the exclusive organizer of the presidential events between 1,011,000 pesos and 1,512,000 pesos each.
The Secretariat of Communications and Transports (Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes) and the Mexican Institute of Social Security (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, IMSS) (for “Social and Sportive Services”) disbursed 979,354.40 pesos and 966,325.91 pesos respectively. Finally the National Mortgage Society (Sociedad Hipotecaria Nacional), the National Bank of Foreign Trade (Banco Nacional de Comercio Exterior, Bancomext), the National Financial Development Bank (Nacional Financiera, NAFIN), and the Microfinance Fund for Rural Women also joined along with amounts from 80 thousand up to 345 thousand pesos for each event.
Contralínea also solicited an interview with each of the ones in charge of the contracts of Actidea. Up to the moment of closure no positive answer has been received.
Sound Systems in the Zocalo Square, in charge of the CIE
For the evening of the Shout of Independence given by the president Enrique Peña Nieto 2,129,992 pesos more were spent due to the mounting of the sound system in the Zocalo square. The dependency in charge of the contracts was the Presidential General Staff (Estado Mayor Presidencial, EMP), and the hired company was Creatividad y Espectáculos SA de CV (Creativity and Spectacles Ltd., CYE),
In response to the information request 0210000143114 the EMP opened its archives and allowed Contralínea to consult directly the contracts EMP-SVS-1-3P-093-2014 and EMP-SVS-1-3P-093-2014, signed by the company through its representatives Jaime Alcobe Alonso and Eduardo Mondragón Mora.
The services delivered consisted of audio equipment for the presidential shouts, the bells of Dolores and its cathedral, the military band; the music groups and presentations hired by Actidea, even the fireworks.
In 2013 CYE collected 726,392 pesos. In 2014 the number almost doubled: the total amount to mount the sound equipment for the appearance at the balcony Peña was worth 1,403,600 pesos.
(Translated by: Axel Plasa)
Mauricio Romero, @mauricio_contra
Contralínea 432 / del 12 al 18 de Abril 2015