Promises to sell part of $7 million family compound in Mexico City
Under fire for a controversial mortgage loan which enabled her to construct a 15,000 sq. ft. residence for the presidential family in one of the capital's most exclusive neighborhoods, Angélica Rivera, wife of Enrique Peña Nieto, promised last night she would divest herself of the real estate.
In a dramatic statement uploaded to social media sites, Rivera said:
"Today I have decided to speak to all Mexicans, because you have the right to know the truth. In the face of accusations which have questioned my integrity, I want to tell you that I have nothing to hide. Even though I am not a public servant, I still feel the responsibility to explain to you, step by step, everything connected to the house which has been called into question by certain media sources.
"I am here to defend my integrity and that of my children and my husband. I am disclosing private documents and information that I am under no obligation to furnish.
"I have worked all of my life, since I was 15. Thanks to that I am an independent woman, and I have been able to acquire property for myself the honest way, relying upon my earnings from my career."
Rivera, 45, is a former actress with young adult children. She and Peña Nieto married Nov. 27, 2010 while he was governor of the State of Mexico (Edomex). It is the second marriage for both. Peña, 48, was elected president July 1, 2012, and took office on Dec. 1 of that year. Peña Nieto also has adult children from his first marriage to the late Mónica Pretelini Sáenz, who died suddenly Jan. 11, 2007.
Virtually all of Rivera's 25 year career was under contract with Televisa. In addition to her salary the former artist received many collateral benefits. A 2008 addendum included the "use and enjoyment" of an expensive Mexico City residence, in a deal which was recently scrutinized by a prominent TV investigative journalist in this country.
Rivera said that she and Televisa ended their relationship by mutual agreement in 2010. The mega network paid her 88 million pesos, or about $6.5 million USD at today's exchange rate, and conveyed over to her absolutely that residence. The compensation package contained an exclusivity clause, in which Rivera agreed not to work for any other company for five years.
"In that way I was able to establish a patrimony for myself and my children," she said.
The president's wife also said that in 2010 she reported gross income of almost 132 million pesos ($9.7 million USD) to Mexico's Hacienda, the nation's internal revenue service.
After marrying Peña Nieto, Ms. Rivera purchased an immediately adjoining property to expand her residence and accommodate the needs of the newly blended family. The details of that transaction, which included a loan for about 70% of the acquisition price made by a Mexican company, Grupo Higa, are here: Angélica Rivera: a makeup man aboard, a gala Beijing dinner. Rivera claimed the adjoining property and its capital improvements are worth 54 million pesos ($4 million USD). Other sources allege it has appreciated considerably. In any case Rivera promised to liquidate her interest in the second property, in order to end a tabloid controversy which has simmered since the Mexican journalist revealed Nov. 9 that Grupo Higa received hundreds of millions of dollars in state contracts while Peña Nieto was still governor of Edomex.
Today presidential press secretary Eduardo Sánchez acknowledged that Grupo Higa remains on the list of approved federal contractors in the current administration. But he said that since Dec. 1, 2012 the PRI government has signed almost 6,400 contracts with nearly 4,100 authorized providers, and what Grupo Higa has received since that date "represents not even 1%" of total cash payouts.
President Peña Nieto was accused during the 2012 presidential campaign of purchasing favorable coverage from Televisa, beginning with his tenure as governor or the State of Mexico years earlier.
The Televisa controversy
June 8, 2012 - U.K.'s The Guardian alleges Televisa-Enrique Peña Nieto deal
June 8, 2012 - Televisa responds to The Guardian
June 12, 2012 - U.S. diplomats troubled by Televisa-Peña Nieto links in 2009, charges The Guardian
June 3, 2013 - YouTube video posting by Peña Nieto ex-lover is sure to embarrass new president, and fascinate Mexico
Ms. Rivera's statement to Mexico was defiant if not defensive
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