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Cómo hackear una elección

Andrés Sepúlveda afirma haber alterado campañas electorales durante ocho años dentro de Latinoamérica.

PARTE 4

En México, el dominio técnico de Sepúlveda y la gran visión de una máquina política despiadada de Rendón confluyeron plenamente, impulsados por los vastos recursos del PRI. Los años bajo el gobierno del presidente Felipe Calderón y el Partido Acción Nacional, PAN) se vieron plagados por una devastadora guerra contra los carteles de drogas, lo que hizo que secuestros, asesinatos en la vía pública y decapitaciones fuesen actos comunes. A medida que se aproximaba el 2012, el PRI ofreció el entusiasmo juvenil de Peña Nieto, quien recién había terminado su período como gobernador.

A Sepúlveda no le agradaba la idea de trabajar en México, un país peligroso para involucrarse en el ámbito público. Pero Rendón lo convenció para realizar viajes breves desde el 2008 y volando frecuentemente en su avión privado. Durante un trabajo en Tabasco, en la sofocante costa del Golfo de México, Sepúlveda hackeó a un jefe político que resultó tener conexiones con un cartel de drogas. Luego que el equipo de seguridad de Rendón tuvo conocimiento de un plan para asesinar a Sepúlveda, este pasó la noche en una camioneta blindada Suburban antes de regresar a Ciudad de México.

En la práctica, México cuenta con tres principales partidos políticos y Peña Nieto enfrentaba tanto a oponentes de derecha como de izquierda. Por la derecha, el PAN había nominado a Josefina Vázquez Mota, la primera candidata del partido a presidenta. Por la izquierda, el Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD), eligió a Andrés Manuel López Obrador, ex Jefe de Gobierno del Distrito Federal.

Las primeras encuestas le daban 20 puntos de ventaja a Peña Nieto, pero sus partidarios no correrían riesgos. El equipo de Sepúlveda instaló malware en enrutadores en el comando del candidato del PRD, lo que le permitió interceptor los teléfonos y computadores de cualquier persona que utilizara la red, incluyendo al candidato. Realizó acciones similares contra Vázquez Mota del PAN. Cuando los equipos de los candidatos preparaban discursos políticos, Sepúlveda tenía acceso a la información tan pronto como los dedos de quien escribía el discurso tocaban el teclado. Sepúlveda tenía conocimiento de las futuras reuniones y programas de campaña antes que los propios miembros de cada equipo.

El dinero no era problema. En una ocasión Sepúlveda gastó US$50,000 en software ruso de alta gama que rápidamente interceptaba teléfonos Apple, BlackBerry y Android. También gastó una importante suma en los mejores perfiles falsos de Twitter, perfiles que habían sido mantenidos al menos un año lo que les daba una pátina de credibilidad.

Sepúlveda administraba miles de perfiles falsos de este tipo y usaba las cuentas para hacer que la discusión girara en torno a temas como el plan de Peña Nieto para poner fin a la violencia relacionada con el tráfico de drogas, inundando las redes sociales con opiniones que usuarios reales replicarían. Para tareas menos matizadas, contaba con un ejército mayor de 30.000 cuentas automatizadas de Twitter que realizaban publicaciones para generar tendencias en la red social. Una de las tendencias en redes sociales a las que dio inicio sembró el pánico al sugerir que mientras más subía López Obrador en las encuestas, más caería el peso. Sepúlveda sabía que lo relativo a la moneda era una gran vulnerabilidad. Lo había leído en una de las notas internas del personal de campaña del propio candidato.

Sepúlveda y su equipo proveían casi cualquier cosa que las artes digitales oscuras podían ofrecer a la campaña de Peña Nieto o a importantes aliados locales. Durante la noche electoral, hizo que computadores llamaran a miles de votantes en el estratégico y competido estado de Jalisco, a las 3:00a.m., con mensajes pregrabados. Las llamadas parecían provenir de la campaña del popular candidato a gobernador de izquierda Enrique Alfaro Ramírez. Esto enfadó a los votantes —esa era la idea— y Alfaro perdió por un estrecho margen. En otra contienda por la gobernación, Sepúlveda creó cuentas falsas en Facebook de hombres homosexuales que decían apoyar a un candidato católico conservador que representaba al PAN, maniobra diseñada para alienar a sus seguidores. “Siempre sospeché que había algo raro”, señaló el candidato Gerardo Priego al enterarse de cómo el equipo de Sepúlveda manipuló las redes sociales en la campaña.

En mayo, Peña Nieto visitó la Universidad Iberoamericana de Ciudad de México y fue bombardeado con consignas y abucheado por los estudiantes. El desconcertado candidato se retiró junto a sus guardaespaldas a un edificio contiguo, y según algunas publicaciones en medios sociales se escondió en un baño. Las imágenes fueron un desastre. López Obrador repuntó.

El PRI logró recuperarse luego que uno de los asesores de López Obrador fue grabado pidiéndole a un empresario US$6 millones para financiar la campaña de su candidato, que estaba corta de fondos, lo que presuntamente habría violado las leyes mexicanas. Pese a que el hacker dice desconocer el origen de esa grabación en particular, Sepúlveda y su equipo habían interceptado las comunicaciones del asesor Luis Costa Bonino durante meses. (El 2 de febrero de 2012, Rendón le envío tres direcciones de correos electrónicos y un número de celular de Costa Bonino en un correo titulado “Trabajo”). El equipo de Sepúlveda deshabilitó el sitio web personal del asesor y dirigió a periodistas a un sitio clonado. Ahí publicaron lo que parecía ser una extensa defensa escrita por Costa Bonino, que sutilmente planteaba dudas sobre si sus raíces uruguayas violaban las restricciones de México sobre la participación de extranjeros en elecciones. Costa Bonino abandonó la campaña pocos días después. Recientemente señaló que sabía que estaba siendo espiado, solo que no sabía cómo. Son gajes del oficio en Latinoamérica: “Tener un teléfono hackeado por la oposición no es una gran novedad. De hecho, cuando hago campaña, parto del supuesto de que todo lo que hable por teléfono va a ser escuchado por los adversarios”.

La oficina de prensa de Peña Nieto declinó hacer comentarios. Un vocero del PRI dijo que el partido no tiene conocimiento alguno de que Rendón hubiese prestado servicios para la campaña de Peña Nieta o cualquier otra campaña del PRI. Rendón afirma que ha trabajado a nombre de candidatos del PRI en México durante 16 años, desde agosto de 2000 hasta la fecha.

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