With much of the world's eyes watching their television screens with the results of the U.S. elections, many televisions in Mexico were tuned to images of the aftermath of a tragic plane accident in the capital city. On Tuesday evening, a small plane carrying 8 people including two important members of the Mexican government's fight against crime and drug-trafficking crashed into rush-hour traffic in a Chapultepec neighborhood and left at least 13 people dead, including all on board and some victims on the ground. Included in the casualties was Juan Camilo Mouriño, who was the 2nd most powerful member of the executive branch after President Felipe Calderón, who expressed his sympathies and spoke to Mouriño's children saying that “their father worked until the end working towards leaving them a better country.“
Mex Files writes about who Mouriño was within the government:
This is a huge issue, with both national security, political and international implications. Mouriño, who was only 37 years old, but was the second most powerful figure in the Mexican executive branch. Secretaria de Gobernacion has no real equivalent in English. His title is sometimes translated as “Interior Minister” or “Home Secretary” but the closest U.S. counterpart would be the Secretary of Homeland Security … as well as Director of National Security, and the closest thing Mexico has to a Vice-President.
His selection last March, as a replacement for President Calderon’s original Secretaria de Gobernacion, Francisco Ramírez Acuña, was highly controversial. Ramírez was widely despised even in his own party for his alleged ties to narcotics dealers, and accused of being AWOL — or at least negligent — in the anti-narco war, on top of his tolerance of human rights abuse during his tenure as Governor of Jalisco. Mouriño, though seen as a young, fresh face came with his own baggage.
Also in the plane was former anti-drug prosecutor Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, who had been a target of an attempted assassination in the past. As a result, the presence of both men onboard has led to some theories that this was not an accident, and rather a deliberate attempt on their lives. Speculation has shown up in many Mexican blogs by many who are used to stories of public officials and security authorities that had been killed in recent months. Even though the Mexican government recently held a press conference and released tapes and video that indicate that there was no explosion, which would have scattered debris everywhere, it would still continue the investigation, although many see it as an uphill public relations effort.
RBD Boy of Blog.com.mx [es] thinks that no matter what there will be speculation and theories that it was related to the occupants’ role in fighting drug-trafficking:
Personalmente, creo que será una tarea muy difícil para el Gobierno Federal explicar este tragico suceso y convencer a todo el país que no fue un atentado; ya que esto podría ser (y recalco, “podría ser“) una represalia del narco por la purga que se esta dando en la SIEDO.
Personally, I think it will be difficult for the Federal Government to explain this tragic event and convince the entire country that it was not an attack; as this could be (and I want to emphasize “could be” retaliation by the narcos for the purge being carried out by the SIEDO (crime-fighting organization).
What will this all mean for the Mexican society? Daniel Manrique of Tome Chango Su Banana [es] writes sees things both on a personal and political level:
Let me be cold-hearted for a while and state this: Mouriño’s death will not have a great impact for Mexico or even for president Felipe Calderón’s team, his plans or aspirations. Because for all the power his position brought, Mouriño himself was a rather grey politician. So yes, let the president give speeches about how we lost a “great mexican” (he was born in Spain so even that is debatable). But the truth is, Mouriño will get replaced by someone else, with similar political prowess, capabilities, aspirations and a similar position to further Calderón’s plans, whatever they are. And in the public eye, Mouriño will fade and then disappear, to become a footnote like Ramón Martín Huerta (whose name, incidentally, has resurfaced in connection with the Mouriño tragedy).
He will disappear, that is, in the eyes of everybody but his family and friends: these people didn’t just witness the death of a high-ranking government officer; they lost a friend, a father, a husband, and a son. To them, and to all the relatives of the deceased, the tragedy has a very personal feel. This is the level at which us normal people can empathize and understand the magnitude of what happened, for any loss of human life is to be regretted. So indeed, let our prayers (for those who pray) and our condolences and best wishes be with mr. Mouriño’s family, as well as with those of all the others who lost their lives or were injured in the tragedy.
Thumbnail photo by Afagen