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Mexico: Citizen Detained Over Politician Helicopter Crash Joke Tweet

‘Mexico rules out engine failure in helicopter crash that killed government’s No. 2 official’ reads the title of a Washington Post article, which explains the Mexican government sees all evidence pointing to weather conditions in relation to the recent helicopter crash in which Interior Secretary, Francisco Blake Mora, passed away.

The Washington Post also informs that 16 aviation specialists are investigating the fatal accident, the second air crash to kill an Interior Secretary during the administration of President Felipe Calderón.

On Sunday November 13, the Mexican Twittersphere exploded with demands for explanations and the release of Mario Flores [es], a graphic designer who was detained without an arrest order outside his parents’ house by agents from the PGR (the investigative body of the Mexican General Attourney's office), allegedly because of a message he tweeted last Thursday, November 10:

"I hadn't left for work so early since Mouriño's plane fell. Be careful, flying officials."

His Twitter bio read before the incident:

Soy el ángel de la muerte de los panistas voladores.

I am the angel of death of the flying panistas

PAN (National Action Party) is the party of President Calderón.

The tweet made reference to the accident involving former Interior Secretary Juan Camilo Mouriño, who also died in a plane crash three years ago, which happened in front of Flores’ workplace. He even published a post in his blog [es] about it back then, in the black humor style that also characterizes his tweets.

Some Twitter users warned against “speculation” over the reason behind his violent detention without a warrant and by five cars and twelve agents. However most were pointing to his tweet as the main reason for his arrest.

Popular Twitter user @plaqueta later tweeted [es]:

Especulamos @mareoflores se lo llevó la PGR por hacer un chiste sobre helicopterazo. ¿Qué hacemos?

We speculate @mareflores was taken by the PGR because of the joke about the helicopter crash. What should we do?

Gonzalo Fragoso (@Gonzalopolis) informed in more detail about the situation [es]:

Los papás y un abogado de @mareoflores están afuera de la PGR y no los dejan verlo. Supuestamente está declarando. Pasen la voz.

The parents and a lawyer of @mareoflores are outside the PGR and they're not letting them see him. Apparently he is declaring. Pass this on.

Human rights defender and prominent Twitter user Jesús Robles Maloof (@roblesmaloof) spoke with the relatives of Mario Flores [es]:

Hablé con el padre de @mareoflores informa que fue detenido afuera de su domicilio por 5 vehículos de la PGR. #MareoFlores.

I spoke with the father of @mareflores he informed me he was detained outside his house by 5 cars of the PGR. #MareoFlores.

“Speculations” by Twitter users were right. The PGR later published a press communique whereby it confirmed the detention over a tweet [es], specifying the goal was to “exhaust all lines of investigation” over the event in which Minister Blake died. PGR said Flores was taken as a “witness”:

Una vez que rindió su declaración sobre los motivos por los que publicó en su cuenta de twitter el comentario “no salía tan temprano desde que se cayó la avioneta de Mouriño, anden con cuidado funcionarios voladores”, se le permitió retirarse de las instalaciones, toda vez que hasta este momento, no existe relación entre la publicación del tweet y el accidente aéreo.

After declaring about the reasons why he published in his Twitter account the comment, “I hadn't left for work so early since Mouriño's plane fell. Be careful, flying officials,” he was allowed to leave on the premises that, until this moment, there is no relation between the publication of the tweet and the plane crash.

But Mario Flores was not the only one to make a joke in reference to Mouriño's accident coinciding with the helicopter crash that killed Francisco Blake. Twitter user @morf0 [es] also joked about it:

Mañana a las 11/11 les caerá un secretario del cielo… evite reforma.

Tomorrow at 11/11 a minister will fall from the sky… Avoid Reforma [Avenue].

Clearly, he was making reference to Mouriño's accident and in the context of 11/11/11 posts on Twitter.

The dynamic of social networks

CNN interviewed @morf0 to “explain” his joke where he said it was “ a terrible coincidence”. (VIDEO).

Oscar García (@Ciudadanooscar) mentions the worrying trend of media calling out Twitter users as suspects:

Detención de @MareoFlores se da en el marco de una prensa imbécil como la de Aristegui o Rafael Loret que pide q twitteros sean investigados

Detention of @mareoflores happens in the context of a stupid press like Aristegui's or Rafael Loret's that calls to investigate Twitter users.

The famous and internationally acclaimed journalist Carmen Aristegui asked during her news show to consider investigating @morf0's tweet: (Video in Spanish)

Es un mensaje que debe tomarse en cuenta por los investigadores

It is a message that needs to be consider by the investigators

Columnist Rafael Loret de Mola also described [es] @morf0's tweet as “cyberterrorism” in his article about the death of Francisco Blake Mora.

Users have recognized the negative impact of journalist that don't understand the dynamic of social networks and take jokes as evidence. @Morf0 tweeted [es]:

Periodistas como Aristegui o de Mola se han dejado llevar por un tremendismo digno de la nota roja. No están preparados para hablar de Inet.

Journalists like Aristegui or de Mola have fallen into sensationalism. They are not prepared to talk about the Internet.

@mlucascir thinks that media can't handle Twitter in Mexico:

TW le esta haciendo daño a los medios, sólo así se entiende su estupidez d querer ligar bromas banales con predicciones o planes.

Twitter is bad for media, only this explains the stupidity of linking banal jokes with predictions or plans.

Flores’ release

Mario Flores was released later in the evening. He tweeted [es]:

Estoy completamente bien. Gracias a todos, todo se aclarará en un momento. GRACIAS.

I am completely OK. Thanks everyone, everything will be clear in moments. THANKS.

In the video he said a person approached him outside his parents’ house asking: “Do you remember me?” and then asked for ID. Twelve people were involved in his “levantón”, a neologism used in Mexico for this type of illegal arrest.

Flores explains: “They didn't beat me but they grabbed at me.” He confirmed that his order of detention was not created until he got to the PGR: “They never even tried to bring me here in a cordial way,” he says.

He added:

I don't feel I need to apologize for what I tweeted. I'm free. They asked me if I knew engineers that could destroy a helicopter; if I am involved with subversive groups. I thought the worse, I thought they were going to give me “tehuacanazos” [slang for a type of waterboarding with soda.]

Flores gives more details about his detention in these YouTube videos: one, two.

Netizens denounce detention

Twitter users have been indignant about this worrying development that shows the systematic abuse of power and impunity exercised by the government of Calderón— which was denounced by Human Right Watch last week:

@ruidoexplicito: En México puedes quemar un casino o una guardería, pero no puedes tuitear algo porque la PGR va a tu casa y te saca a golpes. #MareoFlores

In Mexico you can burn a casino or a kindergarten, but you cannot tweet anything because the PGR goes for you to your house and beats you.

Pepe Flores (@padaguan): Empero, la detención de @mareoflores confirma el clima de temor a la represión de la libertad de expresión y la nula credibilidad en el gob.

However, the detention of @mareflores confirms the environment of fear of the repression of freedom of expression, and the null credibility of the government.

@enricoescalona: ¿Será que si andan buscando a gente que “tuvo que ver” con lo de Blake, entonces no fue tan accidente? Ya queremos ver a #mareoflores

If they are looking for people “involved” with Blake's accident, then it wasn't so much of an accident? We want to see #mareflores.

Roman Cotera (@romancotera): No sería la primera vez que el presidente @FelipeCalderon utiliza a la PGR para escarmientos morales: #matrimoniodf #derechoadecidir

Is not the first time president @felipecalderon uses the PGR to give moral lessons: #dfmarriage #rightodecide

@thinkmexican: The detention of @mareoflores should be seen as an act of intimidation meant to silence critics of @FelipeCalderon and his administration.

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