Thursday, November 13, 2014

México: First Lady's Mansion Becomes Focus as Student Disappearance Emerges as Scandal

According to The Latin American TribuneFirst Lady Angelica Rivera’s Mexico City mansion is the focus of media reports this week as the capital unsuccessfully deals with the disappearance and presumed murders of 43 education students.

The villa, valued at an estimated $7 million, was constructed during 2010-2012 in the capital’s upscale Lomas de Chapultepec district by the Higa company, the Aristegui Noticias news website reported.

Higa was the recipient of several public works contracts when President Enrique Peña Nieto served as governor of México state, which surrounds the Federal District and forms part of the Mexico City metropolitan area.

The mansion is guarded by presidential security service personnel and its title is registered to Ingeniería Inmobiliaria del Centro, a unit of Higa, Aristegui Noticias said.

Rivera owns the mansion she purchased with lucrative money she earned during her successful career as a soap opera actress, government spokesman Eduardo Sánchez said.

Peña Nieto and Rivera agreed to keep their assets separate when they married in 2010, and the first lady has no legal obligation to report her assets because she is not a government official, Sánchez said.

COMMENT: The mansion has 1,414 sq. meters (15,200 sq. feet) of space and is situated on a lot acquired from businessman Armando Hinojosa, who owns Higa and has long-standing ties to Peña Nieto.

Higa has received a number of government contracts in recent years and has an interest in Teya, a company that was partnering with China Railways to build the high-speed rail line in Queretaro.

Peña Nieto cancelled the high-speed railway project last week amid criticism that only one bidder took part in the auction.

Media reports about the First Lady’s mansion have raised questions about how an actress could amass enough money to acquire such a high-value residence.

The First Lady starred in numerous telenovelas, including “Destilando amor,” a hit soap opera based on the Colombian soap “Cafe con aroma de mujer.”Rivera said in a 2013 interview with a romance magazine that the First Family planned to live in the so-called “White House” when Peña Nieto’s six-year term ends in 2018.

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