El Paso

The El Paso Political Power Rise of Paul L Foster And Alejandra de la Vega, Part 2

On September 23, 2020, El Paso Politics introduced readers to Paul L. Foster and how he rose to power in El Paso. As readers may remember, El Paso Politics is exploring the power brokers of El Paso. According to the book, Who Rules El Paso?, there are two major power brokers in El Paso: Woody Hunt and Foster.

In part one we explored how Foster took over a Texaco oil refinery in El Paso and sold it for $5.8 billion in 2017. Along the way we explored how Foster started to rise within the political elite of El Paso in 2002.

El Paso does not exist in a vacuum. It is part of the border metroplex that includes Cd. Juárez. Although many do not realize it, the power elite in El Paso works with the power elites of Juárez. In many ways the metroplex power elite is a binational elite working regionally.

Alejandra de la Vega

Paul L. Foster in the American side is one side of the binational power elite. The other half is his wife, Alejandra de la Vega.

Like El Paso, Cd. Juárez has its share of political intrigue and many of them are part of larger regional powerbases consolidating political power regionally and even nationally. Think Beto O’Rourke.

Javier Corral Jurado is the current governor of the State of Chihuahua. He represents the PAN party. Corral assumed the governorship on October 4, 2016. The former governor of Chihuahua, César Duarte, is currently in a Miami jail awaiting extradition to México on public corruption charges.

Mexican officials have alleged that Duarte diverted $320 million in government funds. A lawsuit was filed in El Paso on February 19, 2020 alleging that Duarte had put some of the illicit money in El Paso.

The current governor, Javier Corral Jurado was born on August 2, 1966 in El Paso, Texas. However, his birth city has been controversial for Corral over the years. Corral has refused to release his Mexican birth certificate and has previously said he was born in Cd. Juárez. But on March 9, 2016 he admitted on live television that he was born in El Paso. [1]

The reason that readers should take note of the Chihuahua governor is because Alejandra de la Vega is Corral’s representative and he had previously named her the head of Corral’s Secretaría de Innovación y Desarrollo Económico, a state government economic development project. [2]

Alejandra de la Vega Arizpe is married to Paul L. Foster in 2008. [3]

De la Vega told the audience when Corral announced her appointment as his official representative, who also put her in charge of the state’s public works project, that her “motivation for entering public service was the need to find honest governments.” [translated from Spanish by author]

She added that “as a Juarense who for some time now was concerned about the insecurity, I realized that our problems rise from corruption.” [3]

Alejandra de la Vega owns and operates several convenience stores in Cd. Juárez under Almacenes Distribuidores de la Frontera and owns the Domino’s Pizza franchise in Juárez, in addition to her ownership interest in the Chihuahuas baseball team. She also has an ownership interest in the soccer team, Los Bravos that play in Division 1 of the Mexican soccer league. De la Vega also has an interest in the El Paso Locomotive FC and owns the franchises for La Madeleine Country French Café for El Paso and southern New Mexico. [4]

The Juarez Duranguito Controversy

Like El Paso, Cd. Juárez is embroiled in controversies regarding commercial development intruding into parts of the community. Since 2019, Juárez area environmentalists have been trying to protect several mountain regions of the city. Like the historical designation controversy in El Paso, the Juárez preservationists have been trying to get a federal protection designation over Cerro Grande to forestall commercial development. [5]

While awaiting the designation, companies linked to the De la Vega have begun commercial development of Cerro Grande. [5]

The de la Vega family has over 300 business interests.

Starting around 2003, the De La Vega family businesses started building gasoline stations across Juárez. In 2000, Paul Foster took control of Western Refining. Western Refining was providing diesel and gasoline fuel to México. [6]

In 2016, the De la Vega family increased their gasoline station businesses across Juárez. During that time, México was importing over 50% of its gasoline from the United States. Around the same time, Alejandra de la Vega was appointed by Corral to the Innovación y Desarrollo Económico, a public economic development project in Chihuahua.

Several lawsuits were filed against the gasoline station developments alleging violations of the city’s zoning ordinances.

In 2017, Paul Foster sold Western Refining to Tesoro. Tesoro was renamed Andeavor and in April 2018, Marathon Petroleum purchased Andeavor for $23.3 billion. In 2019, Marathon’s executive team resigned after investors demanded a shakeup of the Marathon managing team.

Among the investors demanding changes at Marathon was Paul Foster. [7]

Marathon Petroleum is exclusively providing gasoline to De La Vega’s gasoline stations. The other Juárez station operators purchase their gasoline from Pemex, which also imports gasoline from the United States.

Since 2020, the De la Vega family operates over 20 gasoline stations in Juárez, according to government records.

Critics have accused the De La Vegas of building gasoline station too close to each other creating a danger to the community in case of a fire. The critics argue that the city is ill-equipped to respond to a fire with so many gasoline stations too close to each other.

The critics have alleged that the Alexandra de la Vega’s work with the Chihuahua governor’s office has facilitated the construction of the De la Vega gasoline stations allegedly violating the city’s distance requirements.

The BravoBús Controversy

As the Chihuahua governor’s representative, Alejandra de la Vega heads the implementation of one of the governor’s signature public works, the BravoBús. In 2020, construction of the BravoBús was started. The second part of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system covers 34 stations along 12 miles in Juárez and is funded with state and federal funds, according to government funding records.

In July 2020, a controversy arose over the naming of the second line arose when the governor announced that it was being name the BravoBús. Critiques argued that the name provided free advertising with taxpayer funds to De la Vega’s Juárez soccer team, FC Bravos.

Currently there are rumors that the Chihuahua government will allow the De la Vega family to build a soccer stadium on federal land at the Chamizal Park.

Paul Foster and his wife have contributed heavily to El Paso and national politicians. They continue to opposed the historical designation of the Segundo Barrio neighborhood and support building a taxpayer funded downtown sports stadium. In Juárez, rumors persist that the Del la Vega family will be allowed to build a sports stadium on federal land in the Chamizal Park near the Cordova bridge which is colloquially known as the Free Bridge.

Footnotes:

  1. Max Frederick live interview of Javier Corral Jurado on March 9, 2016 on television on XJ Canal 5. (6:19)
  2. Carlos Omar Barranco, “Nombran a Alejandra de la Vega representante del Gobierno en Juárez,” Norte Digital, January 25, 2021.
  3. Paul Foster Profile, Baylor University, Foster Campus Dedication website accessed on April 21, 2021.
  4. State of Chihuahua official biography for Alejandra de la Vega Arizpe, January 25, 2021.
  5. Carlos Omar Barranco, “Controversia en Chihuahua por gasolinera en el Cerro Grande,” Norte Digital, February 27, 2021.
  6. Paul L. Foster, Western Refining, Inc. and Giant Industries, Inc., Complaint Before the Federal Trade Commission, Docket No. 9323, May 3, 2007.
  7. “Marathon Petroleum to change CEO, split company after hedge fund campaign,” Reuters, October 31, 2019.

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