By Esteban David Rodríguez
José Miguel Bejos obtained 7 kilometers of beach on the Riviera Nayarit, he benefited from a highway and placed his cousin in the cabinet. The golf instructor of Peña Nieto is the same businessman who has won a section of the Mayan Train.
Enrique Peña Nieto gave to the family of José Miguel Bejos, billions of pesos in contracts, positions of political power, and even a generous piece of coast in the Riviera Nayarit, the most recent a piece of the Bahía de Banderas Trust (FIBBA). So, his golf teacher would undertake the construction, of Costa Canova.
The new patriarch of the lin|eage Nader Miguel – Bejos Checa has been a prominent exponent of the business community of Lebanese descent, which is embedded with the Tolucan PRI elite. José Miguel is the son of Alfredo Miguel Afif, a bird of financial storms.
As one of Peña Nieto’s most generous gestures with Miguel’s family, his government transferred the property rights of El Capomo, an area of 267 hectares with seven kilometers of beachfront in the Riviera Nayarit, to a business group in the center which is Prodi Group / Mota – Engil Mexico consortium, headed by José Miguel Bejos.
Through this financial engineering, Miguel and their Portuguese partners build a private vacation sanctuary that seeks to dispute the market at Punta Mita, one of the most exclusive tourist developments in Mexico.
The terms of the purchase of El Capomo are completely unknown, as the Peñista government classified them for a year under the argument that it was “an industrial secret” and, immediately, sealed that public file with the eternal nails of an agreement of confidentiality with buyers. The truth is that it is a transfer through an irrevocable trust, according to the official documentation.
After the technical minutiae, El Capomo lost that name forever, to become Costa Canuva, where seven luxury hotels are built, including a Ritz Carlton and a Fairmont; approximately 2,500 residential units; a marina, and a golf course developed by Greg Norman and golfer Lorena Ochoa. All with an initial investment of 2,800 million dollars.
But Miguel has not only the Portuguese in Costa Canuva as partners but also CIBanco, from Walton Street Capital, an investment fund associated, in turn, with Grupo Chartwell, of the Ancira Elizondo brothers.
Using patrimonial documentation, business management reports, government institutional reports, environmental authorizations, and transparency summaries, EMEEQUIS reconstructs a history of friendship forged around golf, business, and public power.
GOLF AND BUSINESS
Enrique Peña Nieto succumbed to the enchantment of golf as a member of Arturo Montiel’s cabinet in the State of Mexico, according to press reports. But it was during his own governorship (2005-11) when he went most frequently to the Gran Reserva de Ixtapan de la Sal Golf Club – where he owns a house – accompanied by who his two main playmates would be: his compadre Luis Enrique Miranda Nava and his friend José Miguel Bejos.
Peña y Miranda, who was then acting as government secretary, were the rookies. José Miguel Bejos was the teacher.
In fact, Miguel Bejos is the organizer (“commissioner”) of the Professional Golf Tour, the successful league of the specialty known as “Tour Banorte”, since it is sponsored by Grupo Financiero Banorte, of the current presidential adviser Carlos Hank González , one of the great friends of his family.
Such friendship is not accidental. The Miguel family has been close to the leaders of the State of Mexico since the times of Governor Carlos Hank González (1969-1975). They are also ranked as one of the wealthiest families in the entity.
PRODIGIES: A COMPULSIVE CUSTOMER AND A SUCCESSFUL PARTNER
In 1946, under the dictatorship of António Óscar de Fregoso in Portugal, Manuel Antonio Da Mota founded Mota y Compañía, a logging company with operations in the profitable colony of Angola. In ’48 he turned to construction. Engil, also Portuguese, was founded in 1954 by Antonio Fernandes Valadas. In the 70s it was already operating in Venezuela, Angola, Mozambique, Germany, and Peru. In 1999 Mota bought Engil.
Currently, Mota-Engil has a presence in 22 countries. In 2007, it began activities in Mexico by obtaining the Perote-Xalapa highway concession for 45 years. In 2015, in the middle of Peña Nieto’s six-year term, the company became “the first private operator for the production and sale of electricity” (Mota-Engil Energy Holdings México) in our country, and by then had a stake in 15 companies with operation in Mexican territory.
In 2010, Alfredo Miguel Afif and his son José Miguel Bejos partnered with the Lusitanian corporate monster to form Mota Engil México, the subsidiary created in January of that year.
On August 1, 2011, eight months after that association was formalized, and one month before Peña Nieto closed his cycle as Governor of the State of Mexico, the Miguel family founded Grupo Promotor de Desarrollo y Infraestructura (Grupo Prodi).
Formed by the Central Holding Company and the Holding Company of Services Companies, Grupo Prodi had José Miguel Bejos, Alfredo Miguel Bejos, and Javier García Bejos as its first representatives, according to notarial documents.
The latter joined the public administration the following month, as a member of the cabinet of the new Mexican governor, Eruviel Ávila Villegas, where he held the portfolio of the secretary of Labor and Social Welfare.
With the arrival of Peña Nieto to the Presidency of Mexico, the federal government contributed to the capitalization of Grupo Prodi. According to Compranet records reviewed by this means, that company participated in a budget of 1,086 million pesos in contracts for highway works, while Mota-Engil agreed to the stock exchange of 5, 403 million pesos for a similar concept.
The juicy fruits cut from the budget tree by Grupo Prodi and Mota Engil were not only for road infrastructure. The Connectors organization announced in December 2019 that both companies had obtained more than 10 billion pesos in contracts related to the Guadalajara Light Rail in the past six years. In parallel, the appetite for tourist possessions and investments developed.
A PARADISE FOR THE GOLF INSTRUCTOR
On the waters of the Riviera Nayarit, forty kilometers north of Litibú, after Rincón de Guayabitos, at the end of the El Naranjo beach turtle camp, Costa Canuva begins, a paradise that extends to Caleta de Las Cuevas, where it ends in a terrace of tropical forest, at the top of a long succession of cliffs.
That is the Miguel and its partner’s tourist reserve. Before it was part of the Ejido El Capomo, belonging to the community of La Lima, municipality of Compostela. The extension of 267 hectares is made up of three properties: Boca de Becerros, Boca de Naranjos, and Anexo Cuevitas. Between the last two, there is an estuary that investors “integrated” into their designs, according to the Environmental Impact Statement of the project.
By land, the polygon adjoins Federal Highway 200 – from Tepic -, where Costa Canuva has closed access.
The property transfer process started in 2014. In June of that year, during an official visit by Peña Nieto to Portugal, the then director of Fonatur, Héctor Gómez Barraza, announced an agreement with Mota-Engil to create Costa Canuva, with an investment of $ 2,162 million. He presented it as one of the great achievements of the tour.
There was really nothing. At the time, the property did not have the legal status necessary to launch the project, nor had the ejidal commissioner agreed to sell its plots, nor had the state Congress authorized the donation of the estate, nor was there a specifically related trust.
Progress of the work. Photo: costacanuva.com .
Solving all this was highly complex, or in the expression of the then Governor of Nayarit, Roberto Sandoval, “it was a puzzle.” The truth is that in addition to clearing maneuvers, there was intense financial, political, and legal activity in relation to El Capomo. Fonatur faced, on the one hand, trials of the sharecroppers. On the other, it was developing thirteen hectares of the property, according to its annual report for that year.
Meanwhile, the pair of Portuguese and Tolucan investors had given birth to a new creature in February: Mota – Engil Prodi . They registered it as a joint stock company promoting investment (SAPI), where the Portuguese firm had 25% of the shareholding, while the Tolucan people held the remaining 75% .
Forced by a request through the transparency mechanisms, Fonatur revealed that Mota – Engil Prodi had signed with this public agency and Nacional Financiera (Nafin), an “agreement of intention”, which constituted, he argued, an “industrial secret ”, So he requested his classification for one year. In addition, it reported on a confidentiality agreement signed on June 12 with the company in question.
Classification of the agreement of intention for being “information of an industrial nature”.
The letter of intent had been signed between March and May 2014, since Fonatur only offered in response a Mota – Engil Prodi “information card” on the project, dated May 20.
On the premises, clearing maneuvers and other efforts related to the project continued. For 2015, Fonatur would urbanize 67.85 more hectares in El Capomo, according to the institution’s annual report.
In addition, Costa Canuva was given a concession title for water extraction through a deep well on-site, “at the rate of 30 lps” (liters per second), in addition to three wells with a depth of 100 meters, to 125 lps extraction. as it appears from the subsequent environmental authorization of Semarnat (2018).
Already in 2016, the Ministry of Communications and Transportation (SCT) tendered the construction of the new Compostela – Las Varas highway, one of whose sections were won by Mota Engil Mexico and Mota-Engil Engineering and Construction, for 709 million pesos. The road reaches almost to the access to Costa Canuva, which is located at the federal 200, which extends to the gates of Punta Mita.
THE MIGUEL AND ANCIRA, WITH THE SAME PARTNER
The financial engineering set-up for the project was also ongoing. On January 22, 2015, Mota-Engil Turismo was created, with two partners: Mota-Engil América Latina SAPI and Mota-Engil Turismo Holding.
The latter, in turn, is made up of Mota Engil Tourism BV and Mota-Engil México , where Grupo Prodi, of the Bejos family, owns 49% of the shares . Furthermore, Mota-Engil México has a stake in the companies App Coatzacoalcos-Villahermosa, Consorcio GDL Viaducto, Consorcio Túnel Guadalajara, Constructora APP Tabasvera , Costructora Cardel Poza – Rica, Constructora Tuxpan-Tampico, Desarrollos DOT México, Mota-Engil O&M México, Puente Boca del Río and Mota-Engil Energy Holding, according to the financial reports (2014-19) of the Portuguese corporate.
With the Mota-Engil tourism firm on the board, everything picked up speed. On June 8, 2015, Fonatur signed a trust agreement CIB / 2289 with the consortium formed by Mota-Engil Turismo SA de CV and the multiple banking entity CIBANCO, which controls Walton Street Capital, a firm associated with Grupo Chartwell in Grupo Hotelero Santa Fe (GHSF), directed by Carlos Gerardo Ancira Elizondo.
On June 8, 2015, Fonatur signed a trust agreement CIB / 2289 with the consortium formed by Mota-Engil Turismo SA de CV and the multiple banking entity CIBANCO.
Grupo Chartwell, moreover, has Carlos Gerardo, Guillermo ( deceased last January), and Jorge Ancira Elizondo as partners. Jorge Ancira is also Deputy General Director of Altos Hornos de México ( AHMSA ), chaired by another of his brothers, Alonso Ancira Elizondo, accused of fraud in the PEMEX / Agronitrogenados / Fertinal case.
The purpose of the contract signed by Fonatur, Mota Engil Turismo and CIBanco, was “to create a first-rate tourism development that has a combination, among others, of tourist accommodation, condominiums, residential, commercial activities, sports, and marine activities”, they review the notes on the financial state of Fonatur of six-year closure.
They also detail that, in accordance with clause 5. of the contract, Fonatur is entitled to “12% of the total sales revenue of each square meter of surface disposed of the project”, as well as a guarantee of 695 million pesos that the agency accepted in comfortable installments.
In the Costa Canuva trust, Mota Engil Turismo had “effective participation of 42.51 %”, according to the annual corporate report.
THE POLITICAL OPERATION OF MIRANDA NAVA
Everything was ready. But the operation with the ejidatarios, in charge of Governor Roberto Sandoval, was a failure . They had three shelters against the occupation of their lands and another from a private individual.
“If there had been bets, there was a 99 % loss, ” said Roberto Sandoval, with his rebellious syntax, during the ceremony for laying the first stone of Costa Canuva, in 2017 .
He described the project as his idea: “ I told President Peña Nieto, take the Costa Capomo project with you . Yes, of course , he said. President Peña loves Nayarit very much. And he took it , and the Portuguese gentlemen chose Costa Capomo, because it is the first time that this great country has invested in Mexico ”.
It was in that discussion that he described the original state of El Capomo as a “puzzle”. He said that he had faced the protection of a private owner from El Capomo, and above all, the ejidatarios, “to remove the blindfolds from progress.”
The bandage was woven from two fibers: the demand from the ejidal commissioner that the project include at least free access to the beach , and the payment of his former lands at a reasonable price, although below the market price. At least three shelters had been granted to sharecroppers for those reasons.
Trust to make the purchase of a hotel project.
And, since 1970, when the lands of El Capomo were expropriated, the government of Luis Echeverría had promised them reasonable compensation. In 2002, when Fonatur bought the land from the FIBBA, they did not pay the ejidatarios either. Almost fifty years after the expropriation, José Miguel Bejos and his partners wanted to give them 44 pesos per square meter. They did not want to.
Until he got “heavy hand” Luis Miranda Nava, then undersecretary of the Interior of the peñista government. The Nayarit columns highlighted that in late February or early March 2016, the undersecretary met with Governor Roberto Sandoval and with ejido members from El Capomo.
The journalist Óscar Verdín, from Relatos de Nayarit , outlined: “From the meeting in Mexico City, it has emerged that Miranda Nava was not exactly kind to the people of El Capomo or Roberto Sandoval . She claimed strongly. I wanted the matter to be unlocked to that of now . “
By March 28, the ejidatarios had already given up on their protection, and everything began to walk . The bandage fell off and they gave up their land, which the developers of Costa Canuva would market a little above 45 pesos per meter: residential lots from 590 thousand dollars , that is, more than 13 million pesos each, according to the own development website.
After the success of those negotiations with the sharecroppers, in September 2016, President Peña made two appointments: Miranda Nava was appointed secretary of Social Development, and Javier García Bejos, cousin of José Miguel Bejos, made him undersecretary of Planning, Regional Evaluation, and Development of the same dependency.
The rest was easier. In July 2017, Sandoval used his majority in the Nayarian Congress, which immediately authorized him to donate land to the Costa Canuva trust, which had existed for two years.
Legislative authorization for the donation of land.
Prodi Group, for its part, created that year the development sales unit, Comercializadora Costa Canuva, in association with Juan Rafael Lang Uriarte, director of Mota-Engil Turismo.
On March 7, when he attended to lay the first stone of Costa Canuva, Sandoval told investors, after receiving, as a gift from Mota Engil Mexico, an effigy of the Virgin of Fatima: “It was faith that moved me to do this. Here, the lords of Portugal, for the first time in history, invest in Mexico. (…). I promised them in Portugal that we were going to unlock this story… ”.
Much later, in November 2019, the successful Australian golfer Greg Norman arrived in Costa Canuva to supervise the progress of the work on the 18-hole golf course. “This area is growing very fast, so Costa Canuva and the communities will complement each other very well,” said the also greens designer. Then he celebrated the boost that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he was giving to tourism, as well as investments in infrastructure.
The media teased that last statement, but Norman only smiled. He probably knew what he was talking about. Just five months later, Mota-Engil México won the tender to build Section 2 of the Mayan Train. A contract of 13,394 million pesos.
FROM BEIRUT TO TOLUCA
The rise of the Nader Miguel – Bejos Checa lineage is intimately linked to the political networks of the community of Lebanese descent in the Mexican capital. They arrived in Toluca in the first third of the 20th century, and in 1982 they already ruled it . The Lebanese – Tolucan community celebrated in this spirit the arrival of Emilio Chuayffet Chemor to the Tolucan municipal presidency. And there was barely contained euphoria in 1987 , when Chuayffet took command of the state.
In addition to the Chuayffet, among the first families from Lebanon settled in Toluca, between 1900 and 1930, were the Nader and the Czechs .
Domingo Kuri sent them to Toluca , a kind of “consul” on his own, who arrived in Mexico in 1903. At the foot of the ladder of the steamboats that anchored in Veracruz , he guided his countrymen to seek their destiny in territory Mexican, depending on the region from which they came.
Elías Chuayffet related to Laura Elizabeth Alvarado Estévez (“The Lebanese migration to Toluca during the first half of the 20th century”, Instituto Cultural Helénico, 2002) that her grandfather wanted to go to South America and her grandmother to Mexico , but the discussion did not last long. “They were brought down in Veracruz because there was a quarantine” and Don Domingo sent them to Toluca, where “there were already people from Chuayffet, probably the Naders.”
Most of these Lebanese migrants, Alvarado explains, commercialized all kinds of goods in the municipal market and in central locations in the city. Some ventured into remote regions such as Valle de Bravo , where they then arrived in three days, to sell their products in fertilizers, “the business that left the most.”
“In the Constitution Portal were (…) Don Pedro Checa (Budib), Julián Macise , the Chalela, Don Elías Nader “, according to the testimonies collected by Alvarado.
Over time, their establishments would gain prestige. Already in the 40s, according to Emilio Checa Curi , the Mexican senator Adolfo López Mateos acquired his cashmere in “El Buen despacho”, the Boutros Chekail –Pedro Checa store for Migration Services, which Latinized the names or simply wrote what they thought they were listening.
Already being president, López Mateos would say, on November 21, 1962, when he inaugurated the Lebanese Center in Mexico City : “He who does not have a Lebanese friend, let him look for it!” ( Protocol. Foreing affais and lifestyle , No. 43, Mexico, February, 2014).
From those original roots comes the family of the owners of Costa Canuva . Son of José Miguel Nader and María Elena Afif, Jesús Alfredo Miguel Afif married with Gina Bejos Checa , granddaughter of Pedro Checa Budib, considered a “patriarch” of the Lebanese community. José Alfredo and Gina had three children: Alfredo, Gina and José Miguel Bejos .
BUSINESS AND POLITICS
Jesús Alfredo Miguel Afif founded Grupo Miguel (Contracts and Services Grupo Mina, Executive Services Personnel, Integral Group Personal), as well as the group Compañía Inversora Corporativa (CIC), which groups Helicopteros Bell de México , Heliservicio, Heliservicio Campeche, Servicio Técnico Aerial of Mexico, Images and Urban Furniture, and Construction, Conservation and Urban Maintenance (Comursa); and the real estate Grupo Proasa. In addition, he was a director of Interactions , the brokerage house of his great friend Carlos Hank Rhon.
The accelerated cycle of expansion of Miguel Afif’s companies was financed primarily with public contracts. In 2016, the journalist Linaloe R. Flores documented how only three of the companies of Alfredo Miguel, Heliservicio, Heliservicio Campeche, and Servicio Técnico Aéreo de México, had invoiced around 7 billion pesos in ten years (2002-12), during PAN governments.
But Miguel Afif began to raise federal resources as a construction contractor for Pemex, which was directed by Francisco Rojas Gutiérrez, from Mexico, in the Carlos Salinas administration. In Ernesto Zedillo’s administration, Miguel was already selling his helicopter services to the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).
In 2002, during the Vicente Fox government, Alfredo Miguel resolved a conflict with Pemex. The oil company had hired Proesa in the salinista administration to build an ether plant in Coatzacoalcos. Zedillo had canceled the contract, in the absence of any progress. Proesa suing Pemex before the International Court of Arbitration. He demanded compensation of more than $ 400 million for the termination of the contract.
Already in the Fox government, Pemex reached an agreement with the Miguel, who accepted $ 127 million to forget the sadness of having a work that they never performed canceled.
THE COUSIN OF JOSÉ MIGUEL
At the time, Miguel Afif had a key piece within the Foxista energy cabinet: his nephew, Javier García Bejos, who was the General Coordinator of Advisors and Institutional Liaison for the Secretary of Energy, Ernesto Martens.
In addition, it had another luxury interlocutor with the government of those years, which was Manuel Bribiesca Sahagún, stepson of President Vicente Fox. In 2004, a Bribiesca partner, Miguel Khoury, owner of Practical Constructions, bought a package of properties that the Institute for the Protection of Bank Savings (IPAB) finished off. The possessions had belonged to Alfredo Miguel Afif, but were absorbed by the IPAB due to the breach of a payment agreement.
Bribiesca denied that she had business with Miguel Afif, but admitted that he was her friend, who, she said, had been subjected to “abuse of power” by the government. Speculation had been sparked because Martha Sahagún’s son had lobbied to prevent the Miguel family from losing the airport operation in Toluca.
In 2002, Javier García Bejos said goodbye to Ernesto Martens, to take care of the family’s business: he assumed the direction of the Administrator of the Toluca International Airport and the corporate management of CIC.
Ten years later, with the rise of Peña Nieto to the Presidency of Mexico, Javier García Bejos and his cousin José Miguel Bejos , would find themselves on the brink of a time when some of their greatest political and financial ambitions, Costa Canuva , would crystallize .
Incorporation of Comercializadora Costa Canuva.