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Mexican Interior Secretary Dies in Suspicious Plane Crash

La Opinión, Editorial, Staff Posted: Nov 08, 2008

Editor's Note: Mexico’s Interior Minister Juan Camilo Mouriño and Attorney General Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos died Nov. 4 in a plane crash near Mexico City. Several Mexican media outlets have conjectured that the plane crash was no accident.

LOS ANGELES -- The crash of the Mexican governmental airplane carrying Interior Secretary Juan Camilo Mouriño is a severe blow to the government of President Felipe Calderón.

The head of state lost his closest high-level official. The incident, which has yet to be cleared up, arouses suspicion as to whether it was a response by organized crime to the all-out war launched by the government against the drug cartels.

The official explanation, that it was an accident because the airplane did not explode in the air, cannot be ruled out. Nevertheless, it is hard to disregard the possibility of sabotage, but there are grounds for speculation on this .

First of all, the passengers ranked quite high politically, and the drug cartels had put a multi-million price on the head of one of them, former Assistant Attorney-General José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, because of his work against the cartels during the Administration of Vicente Fox.

Next, the argument that the airplane was under the protection of the Armed Forces is not very convincing; the penetration of the security forces by the drug cartels is common knowledge.

Furthermore, the LearJet 45 is considered to be one of the safest airplanes of its kind, there having been just two crashes since 1995. One of these was the result of pilot error; the other was because the jet engine sucked in several pigeons. There are other theories having to do with turbulence from a larger airplane nearby, although the silence of the pilot with the control tower is strange, had there been trouble with the airplane.

All questions regarding what took place must be cleared up. This will be difficult, given how Mexicans distrust official explanations. Whether it was an accident or sabotage, the damage to the government has been done.

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