November 5, 2008
The Joy and Sorrow of November 4, 2008
By Frontera NorteSur
The historic 2008 US election that catapulted Barack Obama to the White
House was fast on its way to becoming the top story in Mexican media. As
the afternoon of November 4 wore on, stories began appearing of voting in
Chicago, El Paso and other cities.
“US citizens of Mexican origin are going out to vote in large numbers, and
even when long lines are not observed in their neighborhoods, the
precincts register a constant flow,” observed a dispatch from the Notimex
news agency carried on La Jornada’s web site.
Then it happened. A small plane went down in the middle of Mexico City,
killing at least 13 people and injuring 40 others. Among the victims
killed in the still-mysterious crash were Mexican Interior Minister Juan
Camilo Mourino and Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, a high-ranking federal
law enforcement official who once headed an elite anti-organized crime
fighting unit, SIEDO, now embroiled in a scandal over top officials’
alleged links with drug traffickers.
When he was in charge of SIEDO during the administration of former
President Vicente Fox, Santiago Vasconcelos oversaw investigations of the
Ciudad Juarez femicides and the disappearances of numerous men in the
border city. No real progress was made in either of the investigations.
When they were killed on November 4, Mourino, Santiago Vasconcelos and
other officials had just returned from San Luis Potosi after participating
in an anti-organized crime meeting.
The Interior Ministry’s web site had just posted what turned out to be
Mourino’s last public speech, but quickly yanked the statement and
replaced it with a sober message from President Felipe Calderon. A rising
young official, Mourino was a key promoter of President Calderon’s
controversial Pemex reform and militarized drug war.
“Mexico has lost Mexican patriots who worked at the service of the Mexican
state; Mexican men and women, who with their tireless and daily work, were
constructing a better country for all,” President Calderon said.
“(Mourino’s) death causes me enormous pain, but at the same time it is
powerful motive for me to continue struggling without rest and more than
ever for the ideals that we shared.”
Although causes of the crash are still under investigation, speculation of
foul play is rampant in the Mexican press.
A longtime law enforcement official with experience in the Office of the
Federal Attorney General, Santiago Vasconcelos had been involved in
extremely sensitive probes involving drug lords, political donors and
Pemex, among others. The career lawman reportedly was the target of death
threats in recent weeks, and his family was put under military and police
In a news analysis, Mexico’s El Universal daily compared Mourino’s death
in the November 4 plane crash to a still-mysterious fatal helicopter crash
that claimed the life of federal public security chief Ramon Martin Huerta
during the Fox administration.
“The two cases have certain similarities,” El Universal noted. “Both (men)
were an important part of the fight against drugs and both were men who
were very close to the president.”
In its trademark style of hyperbolic, cutting commentary, Ciudad Juarez’s
Lapolaka Internet news site assessed a day that will go down in history on
both sides of the border.
“A black President reaches the White House for the first time since the
founding of the United States, violence in Ciudad Juarez reaches horrific
levels and the Interior Minister of Mexico, Juan Camilo Mourino, dies in
an air accident that smells of criminal terrorism,” Lapolaka declared. “It
is the end of the world as we know it. The construction of a new, unknown
one begins, which rises amid the ruins of a political, economic, social
and moral system that’s still not finished falling to pieces.”
Sources: El Universal, November 5, 2008. El Diario de Juarez, November 5,
2008. La Jornada, November 3, 4 and 5, 2008. Articles by Alfredo Mendez,
Gustavo Castillo and the Notimex news agency. CNN, November 5, 2008.
Lapolaka.com, November 4, 2008. Gobernacion.gob.mx.
Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico
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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008: www.earthcycles.net/
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