Jeb Bush moved from Houston to Miami in late 1980, right after his father’s election as Vice President assured him he’d be very welcome in business circles in the capital of Latin America. Jeb explained his move three years later: “I want to be very wealthy, and I’ll be glad to tell you when I’ve accomplished that goal.”
Nonetheless, it was a strange move since Houston real estate was still booming due to high oil prices. Granted, Miami was also booming, but why? Not from something as straightforward as oil and gas: Miami was already notorious as the cocaine capital of the world.
So, how exactly was a newcomer to town supposed to know whether some well-heeled Latin American who wanted to be in business with the Veep’s son was legit or was a cocaine baron?
Maybe Poppy could have the CIA run a check?
Of course, the VP had lots of dicey Latin connections himself, such as his old Mexican front man Jorge Diaz Serrano, now head of Pemex, whose corruption was so notorious he was one of the three PRI officials that the new PRI president sent to prison in 1983. Over time, Bush the Elder was making new friends south of the border, with the help of his Spanish-speaking son. Jeb helped cement the Bush family’s relationship with the family of Carlos Salinas, who stole the 1988 Mexican election, by vacationing several times on the ranch of brother Raul, who went to prison for having his ex-brother-in-law murdered. (Another Salinas brother was found murdered in his car.) From Julie Reynold’s 2001 article “Los Amigos de Bush” in El Andar:
George Bush Sr. began his family’s relationship with Mexico in the 1960s, when his Zapata Offshore Oil Company was partner in a border-region oil company called Perforaciones Marinas del Golfo (Permargo), with Jorge Díaz Serrano.On the other hand, despite all the rivers of untraceable cash flowing through Miami in the 1980s and 1990s and despite his 1983 profession of vaulting material ambition, Jeb, whether out of fastidiousness or ineptitude, didn’t seem to get terribly rich: if we can trust this article, he entered office as governor of Florida in 1998 worth $2 million and left in 2006 worth $1.3 million.
In 1988, the financial newspaper Barron’s reported that the two Jorges — Bush and Díaz Serrano — used prestanombres (“name-lenders”) to hide Bush’s investment in Permargo from the Mexican government, skirting Mexican foreign-ownership laws. Barron’s also accused the Securities and Exchange Commission of destroying related documents after Bush became vice president in 1981.
Bush Sr. met Carlos Salinas’s father, Raúl Salinas Lozano, back when the latter was Mexico’s commerce secretary. The families’ friendship has continued through the years. Raúl Salinas, the president’s brother, has told investigators that Jeb and Columba Bush joined him three times for vacations at his hacienda Las Mendocinas. It was the same estate where he reportedly hosted an infamous 1990 party for the cream of Mexico’s drug cartels, which Jeb and Columba did not attend.
So why did Jeb move to Miami anyway? Probably mostly to please his wife, Columba, a Mexican worker’s daughter who is uncomfortable in English-speaking America. Her sister and mother had already moved there when her sister married an American too. Decades later he converted to her Catholicism.
Henpeckedness seems like an odd personality trait for a President.