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Mexican Media Responds

Hank: On View in the U.S.

NEW YORK — THE SMILING FACE OF TIJUANA’S MAYOR, Jorge Hank Rhon, dominates the cover of the L.A. Weekly [February 17-23].

“They call him .?.?. the worst mayor in Tijuana history. So why is this man laughing?” asks the Weekly, which cites numerous Mexican sources and describes the mayor as inefficient, corrupt, eccentric — and linked to criminal activities that have earned him the nickname “Genghis Hank.”

“Hank Rhon seemed to us to be an immensely interesting character about whom little is known in the United States, even though in Tijuana and all over Mexico he’s at the center of serious allegations,” Tom Christie, Senior Features Editor of the L.A. Weekly, explained to Reforma.

The mayor of Tijuana is described as a dictatorial man — hence the nickname “Genghis Hank,” and his wife’s moniker “Hankita Perón” — who tends to use public services to finance his personal fortune.

The article is also peppered with details about Hank Rhon’s personality: for example, his fondness for stealing restaurant ashtrays, and the fact that he gives full reign to personal eccentricities like his private zoo, which houses around 200,000 animals.

The L.A. Weekly provides a thorough overview of Hank Rhon’s life, from his beginnings in the business world, where his interests vary from gambling enterprises with Grupo Caliente to the purchase and sale of exotic animals.

The article additionally emphasizes Hank’s influence within Mexico’s PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party), via his friendship with Roberto Madrazo, as well as the political legacy of his father, Carlos Hank González.

“We wanted to give our readers an idea of who this colorful and supposedly dangerous neighbor we have on the other side of the border is,” Christie added.

The journalist Josh Kun, who notes that his requests for an interview with Hank Rhon received no response, echoes the mayor’s alleged link with the murders of Héctor Félix and Francisco Ortiz, two journalists from the weekly magazine Zeta.

“None of what I wrote in my article is new information. It highlights things that are said constantly in Tijuana and Mexico City,” Kun notes.

In the original Spanish:

“¿De que se ríe el Alcalde?”, pregunta la revista que citando a muchas fuentes en México lo describe como ineficiente, corrupto, excéntrico y vinculado a actividades criminales que le han ganado el apodo de ‘Genghis Hank’.

“Hank Rhon nos pareció un personaje sumamente interesante del que en Estados Unidos se conoce poco si bien en Tijuana y en todo México es eje de graves acusaciones”, explicó a REFORMA, Tom Christie, editor de notas especiales de L.A. Weekly.

El alcalde de Tijuana es descrito como un hombre dictatorial -de ahí su apodo ‘Genghis Hank’ y el de su esposa, María Elvia Amaya como ‘Hankita Perón’- acostumbrado a usar los servicios públicos para financiar su fortuna personal.

Asimismo, la nota está salpicada de detalles de la personalidad de Hank Rhon, como que le gusta robarse ceniceros de los restaurantes, y que disfruta de excentricidades como un zoológico privado con unos 200 mil animales.

L.A. Weekly hace un minucioso recorrido por la vida de Hank Rhon desde sus comienzos en el mundo empresarial con intereses tan variados como el negocio del juego con el Grupo Caliente o la compra-venta de animales exóticos.

Enfatiza también la influencia que tiene al interior del PRI a través de su amigo Roberto Madrazo, y por la herencia política de su padre, Carlos Hank González.

“Buscábamos dar a nuestros lectores una idea de quién es este colorido y supuestamente peligroso vecino que tenemos del otro lado de la frontera”, agregó Christie.

El periodista Josh Kun, quien aclara que sus pedidos para entrevistar a Hank Rhon no fueron respondidos, hace eco de la presunta vinculación con el asesinato de los periodistas del semanario Zeta Héctor Félix y Francisco Ortiz.

“Nada de lo que puse en la nota es información nueva; se trata de cosas que se dicen constantemente en Tijuana y en México”, señaló Kun.