Investigación especial: Pruebas de que el PRD de la Ciudad de México recibe apoyo político de la Luz del Mundo


A bolder move by LLDM to recuperate ground that was lost as a result of the 1997-98 national public scandals that accused Samuel Joaquín of sanctifying the raping of minors happened after the federal elections of July 2000, when the country’s presidency also went to the PAN. Intense media coverage of the structural links between sectors of the PRI and the LLDM organization eventually hurt, to an extent, the public image of the then-embattled political institute. Some PRI politicians who knew nothing of those links were deeply embarrassed. Pressure began to build inside the party to take some healthy distance, at least in public, from the controversial sect that had been a faithful cash-and-votes factory. That now belonged to a bygone era: the hegemony of the one-party rule. That pressure, in turn, weighted heavily on the leadership of LLDM to show the faithful that Samuel Joaquín—in keeping with his self-proclaimed status of divine messiah and earthly king—was still an important political player at the national level.

The strategy to repair Samuel’s political public image had a two-fold approach. The first tactic was mainly symbolic and included a very visible and expensive campaign to build prominent—although quite often more than half-empty—temples in major cities all over Mexico. At the same time, intense negotiations began with different political parties to try to reposition Samuel Joaquín as a visible power-broker on the national scene. The culmination of more than ten years of intense lobbying and courting of authorities was the creation of a new, small political party led by Samuel’s trusted member of the elite incondicionales: ex-congressman Rogelio Zamora Barradas. In a most unusual and controversial move, LLDM’s newly named political arm, Expresion Ciudadana,[71] became publicly linked to an internal sector of the PRD,[72] the center-left political party that has won Mexico City by a landslide in the last three elections. The event took place in the capital of the country, at the famous National Auditorium, on June 14, 2004, when ten thousand LLDM faithful gathered to celebrate the “apostle’s” birthday. Instead of the traditional row of well-known PRI old timers, the main personalities invited this time were PRD high officials and governors. However, most of the dignitaries did not personally attend the celebration, but they did send representatives. Media coverage was limited, and that helped create the impression that, indeed, some prominent figures, such as then-governor of Michoacán Làzaro Càrdenas Batel, had attended. This belief was created mainly by the publication of an ambiguously worded paid insertion in newspapers such as Milenio Diario, in which Rogelio Zamora Barradas thanked by name a list of prominent PRD politicians for their “expression of openness” and stated “appreciation for all those who had recognized the work of Master Samuel Joaquín” given that “his labor had excelled in results worthy of admiration.”[73] The deceitful full-page ad ended by reproducing a short, politically charged public speech that Samuel Joaquín had delivered that day. On this occasion, however, the contents of his speech were, quite predictably, center-left leaning. The paid insertion, published on June 21, 2004, deliberately did not clarify which authorities of the PRD had actually attended. In fact, most did not. One person who did attended, though, was Joel Ortega, who participated as the official representative of Mexico City’s Mayor. At the time, Joel Ortega headed the powerful Secretariat of Public Safety, the main entity in charge of the police and public safety issues in the capital of Mexico. During the ceremony, Samuel Joaquín was heralded by the government of Mexico City as an “outstanding citizen for his service to the community.” At the same time, it was publicized that a formal alliance had been formed at this political-religious celebration—Samuel Joaquìn’s birthday commemoration— between Expresión Ciudadana, the revamped political arm of the sect, and the PRD, hence seemingly linking both entities in some sort of structural affiliation. This move created some political upheaval, and some PRD authorities denied that there had ever been such a formal agreement. Both the public record and data provided by government sources, though, suggest that a sector of the PRD was infiltrated by people very closely linked to Samuel Joaquín, in order to either redirect his theocratic agenda, or at least to diversify his political connections. According to this information, the two main liaisons between the Mexico City PRD government and La Luz del Mundo were prominent politician Manuel Camacho Solìs and the above-mentioned Joel Ortega.

A former Mexico City mayor himself, Manuel Camacho Solìs has also been, in a sense, a former presidential pre-candidate who happened to have a falling out with his former party, the PRI, in 1995. He eventually became an independent contender and established alliances with diverse democratic organizations, with little success. Interestingly, it was Camacho Solis who helped to formally incorporate the late Federación Nacional de Colonos en Provincia into the PRI decades ago. The formal setting for this union happened to be, in fact, the same National Auditorium.[74]

Before becoming Secretary of Public Safety, Joel Ortega, on the other hand, had been granted the equivalent of an assistant mayorship (Delegado) by the PRD. He was in charge of an important Mexico City district known as Delegación Gustavo A. Madero from 2000 to 2003. This jurisdiction has more than one million people and is precisely where one of LLDM’s main temples is currently located. In spite of serious accusations that link Rogelio Zamora Barradas to the traffic of immigrants and grave constitutional violations, Joel Ortega appointed the two-time former PRI congressman as Territorial Director. Zamora Barradas was also allowed to hold posts in the Justice Ministry in the same precinct, under the PRD. In a website updated in March of 2004, Zamora Barradas, one of Samuel Joaquín’s closest political operators, was postulated as a candidate for Member of Congress by the PRD.[75] No disclaimers were made. Zamora Barradas, the signer of the above-mentioned paid newspaper insertion is the visible head of LLDM’s new political party, which is now linked to the PRD.

At the end of the day, the political shrewdness and wealth of LLDM’s hierarchy seems to allow its leaders to have their cake and eat it, too. At the state level in Jalisco, votes continue to flow en masse to LLDM’s historical ally, the PRI. At the same time, intense lobbying, PR campaigns, and traditional ways to corrupt public officials keep the pro-Catholic PAN authorities off the sect’s back, hence guaranteeing impunity and boosting Samuel Joaquín’s image among his flock as a model citizen and an untouchable cacique, whichever works best to keep things quiet inside the sect. At the federal level, LLDM’s political arm has been able to infiltrate a sector of the PRD, Mexico’s second most important political party, which has possibilities of winning the next presidential and federal elections. As long as Joaquín continues to have all his political bases covered, the impunity of LLDM’s main leader is seemingly guaranteed. The sexual abuse of minors is solidly institutionalized. But in the case of La Luz del Mundo, the variables are hardly restricted to political power and corruption, as many could think. The intrinsic structure of the religious group, as is the case with many other sects, has much to do with its culture of human-rights violations. Secrecy, and a rigid patriarchal system of belief, coupled with an authoritarian and narcissistic hierarchy in which a system of checks and balances does not exist, also help to explain how such an outrageous space for impunity has made it all the way to the twenty-first century—a space that has in fact widened as time goes by, endangering and harming the lives of many women and children in the process.

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[71] Expresión Ciudadana was formally granted registry as a political party on April 9, 1999. In reality, the organization is only a reconfiguration of the previously cited Federación Nacional de Colonos en Provincia, which was affiliated for decades with the CNOP (Confederación Nacional de Organizaciones Populares) of the PRI. There is no conclusive proof at this time that the latter organization has replaced the former. It is functionally possible that it may in reality be one organization with two different public faces that cater to two rival political clients.

[72] In Spanish, PRD stands for Democratic Revolutionary Party.

[73] Milenio Diario, full-page, paid ad, signed by Rogelio Zamora Barradas. Page 11, June 21, 2004.

[74] Personal interview with Fernando Flores, former director of the Ministry of Culture and Education of LLDM and biographer of the Church. May 16-18, 1997, México City, México.

[75] The English equivalent of Diputado is an elected Congressman. See, retrieved December 20, 2004.