Once upon a time, there was this guy named Carlos Salinas, who had an older brother named Raul. Now Carlos, he was the educated one, and Raul, he had the street smarts, and both had had the good fortune to be born into a very very wealthy family, which was good because when they decided to play “executioner” with the maid and real bullets neither one of them had to suffer much in the way of consequences.

As you may suppose, growing up in that kind of privilege can make even the most well-meaning Junior feel bullet proof. So we should not be surprised that they grew up figuring that whatever they did was o.k., they being them and all…

Tempus fugited, and Carlos became the President of Mexico, while Raul became: the President’s brother. Between the two of them, it is said, they amassed the greatest combined personal fortune in Mexican political history, outdoing Miguel de la Madrid (until then the grand champ) by millions and millions. Unfortunately for them, rape of one’s country had fallen out of favor as a spectator sport, and the communications age had made Subcomandante Marcos (and social reform of Mexico) a prime time can of soup (for those of you who remember Andy Warhol).

Even then, they might have been okay, if only Carlos had done the decent thing, the traditional thing, the smart thing: taken the hit for the devaluation of the peso that everyone knew was coming. Unfortunately for the Brothers Salinas, Carlos’ ambition to be a Historical World Figure got in the way. Knowing that he would never be chosen to head the World Trade Association (sic? who cares?) if the “Modern Mexican Economic Miracle” with which he was identified, was shown to be a hollow shell game, he refused to do the decent thing. By forcing his successor to devalue, he broke the rules of party, class and clique. When the mob, poorer by 1 million jobs and 15,000 small and medium business closings, began howling for his blood, nobody he left behind to clean up his mess felt much like covering for him.

Raul, who stayed behind while Carlos chose exile in Dublin, was arrested for various crimes, including conspiring in the murder of Ruiz Massieu and the looting of the government owned and subsidized rural food store chain, CONASUPO. He currently languishes in the highest-security Almaloya prison, where he is being kept as hostage against the eventual incarceration of his unextraditable (no treaty) brother.

Raul, however, continues to be a hard guy to pin anything on to. Alleged witnesses keep disappearing and/or turning up dead, alleged co-conspirators give testimony that turns out to be easily disprovable, and the one charge that is easily provable — the looting of CONASUPO — get declared by Salinas cronies in the Chamber of Deputies to be unprovable (against all proof).

Over the last couple of weeks, a new scandal has emerged, so bizarre that nobody knows whether to laugh or cry. It seems that the recently replaced Attorney General, a member of the opposition PAN, desperate to score at least one point in the endless chain of losing battles to find the killers of Colosio, Cardinal Posada, Ruiz Massieu, and countless investigators, witnesses and cohorts of same, hired a bungling bureaucrat to replace the previous bungler in charge of these investigations. The new guy-who-gets-yelled-at-for-doing-nothing-even-though-everyone -knows-he-is-powerless, Chapa Benzanilla, decided to get cute. He hired a well-known “Mystic” named La Paca (Francesca somebodyorother)to locate the remains of X (I forget his name; is it important?), said to have witnessed Raul ordering the death of Ruiz Massieu, and later believed to have been then executed by Raul because he knew too much, and buried in an unknown place. With the Press in tow, La Paca led the investigators to a property Raul owned, pointed her (probably bony) finger at a spot in the garden, and said “dig here”. Wonder of wonders, they dug up human remains.

“No way”, said Raul, and hired the best forensic experts available (from the U.S.), who determined that these particular bones were not X. So whose were they? Well, it turned out that they belonged to La Paca’s daughter’s husband’s father. Seems that the family got together for a little unauthorized grave-swapping, inspired by Chapa’s payment of one MILLION pesos for La Paca’s spiritual guidance. Now, Chapa is on the lam, Lozano Gracia (his ex-boss) is in dis-gracia, X is still missing, Carlos is still in Dublin, Raul still languishes in Almoloya, and La Paca and all her cohorts will soon join him.

Ah, Mexico: sun, fresh produce, cheap housing, affordable health care, and news that reads like the National Inquirer. If it wasn’t for the fact that upwards of 90 million Mexicans suffer to one extent or another from the results of the acts of their “leadership”, we could chalk it up as cheap entertainment.