First it was Columba and now a Bush supporter´┐Żcoincidence or something darker?

By Bev Conover


The major media, in it's zeal to put George W. Bush in the White House, is not only bent on ignoring Dubya's dubious past and that of his family, but now those of his supporters, too.

It took nearly a week for the media to give much attention to Columba Bush's (wife of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush) attempt to smuggle $19,000 in fashions and jewelry, she bought on a Paris shopping spree, into the country. And it was paltry attention at that, given Jeb's public admission his wife deliberately lied to U.S. Customs agents in Atlanta, where she reentered the country, about the value of the purchases she had to declare. Calling what she did a "mistake" and saying she was "remorseful," her loving husband claimed his wife fibbed so he wouldn't find out how much she spent. Did the media find those statements troubling? No.

If it hadn't been for alert Customs agents, who found the sales receipts in Columba's purse, she would have gotten away with it. As it was, she got off lightly-having to pay only $4,100 in duty and penalties, when she could have been hit for $38,000 or had the items confiscated.

Jeb's revelations, though, raised nary a question from the major media, much less an eyebrow. Who would be so crass to ask if Columba had one this before and, if so, how many times? Does Republic pollster Whitfield Ayres's remark that no Democrat would attack "the Hispanic wife of George [Dubya] Bush's brother" also apply to legitimate questions from those who masquerade as reporters for the majors?

Exit Columba and enter Remedios Diaz Oliver.


This gets a bit more complicated. Remedios was listed as a member of the host committee for Dubya's fund-raising bash, held last Friday night in Miami. She is credited as being one of 37 people who each raised about $25,000 for the Texas governor, and she also pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor federal charges of accessory after the fact to tax evasion and Customs fraud involving her family's Miami food importing business.

Dubya press aide Karen Hughes brushed off the revelation, saying Mrs. Diaz Oliver was a volunteer and one of 2,500 people on guest lists for events nationwide. The Associated Press quoted Hughes as saying, "It's unfortunate. We were not aware" of Remedios' legal problems.

Really? The unfortunate thing is that Remedios copped her plea just ahead of the bash for Dubya. The Diaz Olivers legal problems have been going on seven years. She and her husband, Fausto, business associates Lilliam Martinez, and Lilliam's ex-husband, and two Spanish businessmen-Vicente Hernandez-Perez and his son, Francisco Hernandez-Perez-were named in an 18-count indictment in 1997. Did any major news outlet, except the Miami Herald pick up on that or the fact that Remedios represented former President George Bush (Dubya's father) at South American inaugurations?

The government alleged the Diaz Olivers, who through their children owned 24.5 percent in Spanish Foods, Inc.-a subsidiary of H.P.H. (Molinera Foods) based in Murcia, Spain-Mrs. Martinez, who is the president of the company, and the Hernando-Perezes, who own 51 percent of the company, conspired to falsify invoices to evade U.S. Customs duties on food imported by the company. Said the Miami Herald, "The three originally were charged with filing false invoices to U.S. Customs to evade duties and taxes totaling $500,000 from 1987 through 1996."

So why would the Bush boys be aware of a thing like that when they both have a history of sticking U.S. taxpayers with the tabs for their "mistakes," while they profited handsomely?

Remedios, who also owns All American Containers, a Miami-Dade bottle and container supplier, and is the only Hispanic woman from Florida to serve on the board of a Fortune 1000 company, has agreed to plead guilty to the misdemeanor charges in exchange for no jail time. Her husband and Lilliam Martinez face some time in a federal halfway house. In addition, the three will have to pay $279,314 in restitution to Customs and about $68,000 to the Internal Revenue Service, plus the $150,000 it cost to investigate the case.

The Hernando-Perezes, father and son, and Martinez's ex-husband are fugitives.

Remedios and Fausto have been listed in Hispanic Business magazine as one of the wealthiest 80 Hispanic families in the nation, with a net worth estimated to be $24 million in 1997. So Remedios is just another well-heeled face in the crowd, eh? A face that sat on the boards of Barnett Bank, Avon Products and US West.

Are the major media color blind or do they prefer to ignore the red flags that could derail fast-tracking Dubya into the White House? That Dubya collected some $2 million from his well-heeled buddies during his Florida sojourn is bigger news, right?

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