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Quien sabe?

Stan Gotlieb

I read somewhere that there are three stages to many occurrences in Mexico: the event; the contradictory rumors that are told about the event; and the decision that, given all the preposterous rumors, the event actually never happened at all. By July, 1995, when this was written, we were fully into phase two. Photography by Diana Ricci

Who knows? That's the answer you get when you ask a Mexican who was REALLY behind Mario Aburto, the self-proclaimed solo assassin of Luis Donaldo Colosio, the late President-designate of Mexico. Ask the same person for their OPINION, and stand back: everybody has at least one.

Opinions come in two categories: official and unofficial. Official opinions are those which are published / announced by the many and various officials (surprise!) who write / speak on behalf of many and various public and semi-public organizations, and by those individuals who are said to be "influential" or "authoritative". Official opinions must be viewed with great skepticism, as they are likely influenced by -- and meant to influence us in favor of -- any number of hidden and / or acknowledged special interests.

Unofficial opinions are the notions espoused by those individuals who are not in some way connected to any of the above-mentioned groups, agencies, organizations or cabals. Said to number less than 1,200, these people -- having been unable to obtain an official position -- should be immediately dismissed as crackpots.

Foreigners, such as me, all have the same opinion: that it's hard enough learning sufficient Spanish to get your laundry done without too much starch, to waste your energy on having opinions. Naturally, therefore, I wish to take this opportunity to share my opinion with you.

When Aburto was plucked bleeding from the mob, having just blown Colosio's brains out, he confessed. He said then, and he still says, that he acted alone. The Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI) - Colosio's party, and the political face of the oligarchy - wasn't satisfied with that. Where was Colosio's protection? Why didn't they, in the best Secret Service tradition, take the bullet? A lesson had to be delivered: do your duty, or face arrest, torture, and a conspiracy conviction.

They arrested a guard. Then they arrested the party official that hired the guard. Then they arrested some friends and relatives of these people. Suddenly, rumors began to spread: the PRI itself (or some faction thereof) was behind the killing. Party officials, shaken, chose to stonewall. The rumors grew. Soon, the arrested party official was released. See, the PRI said, we weren't involved after all. The bodyguards are still under investigation...

Enter the head of the Human Rights Commission. Let 'em all go, sez he. There never was sufficient evidence to hold them, let alone keep them in Almoloya (Mexico's version of Marion Indiana federal prison, the hellhole of the system). Their due process rights were clearly violated, he sez. The real assassins, he sez, are the Tijuana cops! Huh?

For years, the Federales and the state cops in Baja California Norte (T.J. is the largest city) have been saying that the cops in T.J. run the narcotraffic into San Diego. They have been begging El Presidente (several El Presidentes) for the power to go in and clean it up. No joy -- until Colosio.

Scene I: Colosio on the podium the week before he visited Tijuana, promising to shut down the T.J. cops. Bang. He's dead.

Scene II: Zedillo (his replacement) on the podium in T.J. one week after Colosio's murder, saying the government has to be decentralized, with less "interference" by the federal authorities in "local" affairs. Coincidentally, no-one shot Zedillo.

Meanwhile, some of the peons remain locked up in Almoloya, the "independent" commission appointed to second-guess the official investigators resigned because no-one would share information with them, and Colosio's widow hired a private attorney to sue the prosecutor's office for reports to which she was entitled by Mexican law (so far, she hasn't gotten any). This leaves everyone -- except maybe eleven hundred and some Mexicans -- with their own opinions, and the "Colosio Affair" dead and buried along with Don Luis.

By July, 1995, hardly anyone was left in prison except Mario, and on the 16-month anniversary of Colosio's assassination, ex-president Salinas was in exile. His brother Raul was in prison, having allegedly ordered the death of the brother of the man in charge of investigating Colosio's assassination, and the investigator himself was imprisoned in the U.S. for smuggling in money on his own road to exile. According to some PRI honchos he had been obstructing the investigation of his own brother's death at the behest of Gulf Cartel druglords. Shades of The Godfather...

This whole circus would be a lot more amusing if Mexico were Parador, or some other mythical paradise invented for our amusement and pandering to our racist nature with slapstick and stereotypes, where no-one really gets hurt. Real-life Mexico is deeply in crisis. The Zapatistas' call for a national movement of resistance was received by peasant movements in Guerrero and Tabasco. Inflation and unemployment reached new heights, and the National Banking Commission allowed the peso to float in the world market (read: against the U.S. Dollar), precipitating a chaotic devaluation. There is less money for tortillas, education, and road maintenance; less spent on clean water, pollution control and cleanup, and rural medicine. Hard times, and getting harder. Mexico: que triste. How sad.

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Published or Updated on: September 1, 2000 by Stan Gotlieb © 2008
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