The shadow of NXIVM (pronounced Nexium) has reappeared in Mexico’s electoral campaign. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) has leaked a video this Wednesday in which Clara Luz Flores, Morena’s candidate for the Government of Nuevo León and a leader in the polls, is seen while talking with Keith Raniere, founder of the sect and convicted in October spent more than 120 years in prison for crimes such as human trafficking, sexual exploitation and possession of child pornography. “So when there are governments that take populist measures, even if they are not the best economically for the country or for the government they represent, but they are what the people want, they are right,” asks the aspiring Vanguard, as The self-proclaimed self-improvement guru called himself by his followers, in an excerpt from the recording.
“Politicians are often elected by giving people what they want or what they think they want and not what they need,” Raniere explains in English. The conversation was recorded in mid-2016 in Albany (New York), the group’s main headquarters, but it was never published on the organization’s old website – now deleted -, a source that belonged to NXIVM told this newspaper. There are two darts that Adrián de la Garza, the PRI candidate, has thrown against his rival. The first unearths Flores’ membership in the sect, an issue that has been used to derail his political career for at least two years. The second questions his signing for Morena, the party of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, disqualified as a populist by opponents, after the candidate resigned from the PRI in February 2020 after more than two decades of militancy.
The video was part, says the former member of the group, of a series called Keith Raniere Conversations, devised a little more than five years ago by the leader himself and the leadership of the group to clean his image on social networks. It does not necessarily imply that Flores ranked high in the NXIVM hierarchy, rather known members outside the organization, such as celebrities and politicians, were sought to vindicate Raniere. In the format, for example, Emiliano Salinas, son of former Mexican president Carlos Salinas, and Allison Mack, actress of Smallville and co-defendant in the trial against the founder of the sect in a New York court. The video of Flores, one of the last to be recorded, was not authorized by his communication team, explains the source, who was directly related to the filming, and therefore did not see the light.
Flores’ strategy has been, from the beginning, to minimize his membership in the group. “I don’t know what NXIVM is talking about,” he said in an interview with journalist Julio Astillero, “I took a course on self-improvement, I wasn’t at NXIVM.” Politics also denied having met Salinas and Raniere. In 2019, a collaborator of the applicant explained in an interview with EL PAÍS that Flores arrived at NXIVM about five years ago. Her arrival came years after the kidnapping of one of her stepchildren in Nuevo León, while she was mayor of the Escobedo municipality and had gained popularity for taking action against organized crime. “I thought I was coming to see how to solve the problem of the criminal factory, which is the most important thing for me,” Flores says to Raniere in a part of the video, “you send me with much more work.”
The intention of joining, says the source, who described himself as a close friend, was to overcome the psychological consequences of the kidnapping and found results in the Executive Success Programs (ESP), the flagship product of NXIVM. According to internal documents reviewed by this newspaper, Flores was coach and reached the grade of yellow belt with a streak, the second lowest level in the ESP ladder. To do this, according to the rules of the sect, he had to have recruited at least two people, although high-profile members were often given facilities to rise in rank. Flores has not spoken after the latest attack on his campaign. “Clara Luz Flores has publicly and systematically denied knowing this criminal and being part of this sect; however, the information in my possession proves otherwise and is irrefutable, ”said De La Garza and assured that there is more than an hour of recording.
At the beginning of the month, it was Mario Delgado, the national leader of Morena, who was singled out for belonging to NXIVM. “I attended leadership and corporate success management programs at an institution attended by thousands of people around the world,” Delgado replied on social media, whose commitment to ex-PRI Flores earned him criticism and lawsuits within the party in Nuevo León. “In Mexico they had already attended and recommended this program to politicians, famous journalists and opinion leaders,” he added. Paradoxically, Morena’s rank and file and journalists sympathetic to the López Obrador government had previously been the ones to point out NXIVM’s ties to power, often to attack critics and rivals in other parts of the political spectrum. The most notorious case is that of the son of former president Carlos Salinas, who was in charge of the organization’s center in Mexico City. They also took the family courses of former presidents Vicente Fox and José de la Madrid; relatives of members of the Government of Enrique Peña Nieto and the daughter of Alejandro Junco, owner of the newspaper Reform, constantly on the presidential bullseye.
Raniere’s ambitions in Mexico were great, promoting the adhesion of families with political and economic power, but the truth is that his political influence in Mexico was practically nil. Vanguardia, for example, once declared that it wanted to establish “a republic” of NXIVM in Mexico, a plan that made countless headlines, but was crazy. His followers, for example, argued before he was convicted in October that Raniere had dedicated his efforts to solving the wave of violence that devastates Mexico, when his maximum contribution was a film on the subject that ended up becoming a propaganda video for the group. .
NXIVM made headlines after in 2017 The New York Times reveal that DOS existed, a secret group of sex slaves created by Raniere. The insinuation, since then, was that everyone who had passed through the group had consented to the abuses or, in the worst case, participated in them. In reality, few clients went from the courses to belong to the cult and there was an extremely rigid pyramidal order, in which Raniere was always the most benefited. The disintegration of the organization and the loss of the bulk of its membership came after the DOS sex scandal exploded. Three years after Raniere’s arrest in the Mexican resort of Puerto Vallarta, the shadow of NXIVM has re-entered the election, which will be decided next June.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.