• Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

“But then police and first-aid people said it wasn’t a palazo, it was a balazo.

“I came the following day and almost every day after that for two years.

“We based our first article on what the doctor told us about the wounds,” says Cortés. “A lady, Dr. Aubanel, sister of the ex-wife of the current mayor of Tijuana, Carlos Bustamante. Aubanel’s a cardiologist. She said she saw evidence of wounds from two different bullets. But she only said that once. She wouldn’t say that anymore. The government came right out and said there was only one gun involved, and I believe she was told from then on to say that she wasn’t an expert.”

Cortés was under the same pressure: to go along with the government’s lone-gunman line, that Mario Aburto Martínez was the sole shooter and plotter. But within four days, Cortés and Cordero were convinced otherwise. They wrote the story with the headline that sent a ripple through the nation: “Colosio: Victim of a Plot.”

What plot?

Eighteen years after the assassination, there is still no agreement. “They handled the question in the movie the same way we did in the book,” says Cortés. “It could have involved organized crime, political groups, or the [old guard] interests that were affected by the naming of Colosio.”

The most widely believed theory is that Colosio proved too keen a reformer. Just days before he was shot, Colosio gave a speech to huge crowds in Mexico City: “I see in Mexico a hunger and a thirst for justice...women and men afflicted by the abuse of the authorities or by the arrogance of governmental offices.”

It was an open push toward a more transparent and responsive democracy. The old guard of the PRI must have been having heart attacks.

And although other papers clung tenaciously to the single-shooter line (including, surprisingly, the fearless Tijuana weekly Zeta), today, nearly two decades later, Cortés feels a little vindicated by the movie we’ve seen.

“It’s fiction, but it’s very similar to what we uncovered,” she says. “I think they read our book very closely, and then they worked out the movie script.”

So, has anything changed in the intervening years?

“The fact that they were able to make and exhibit this movie shows we have made some progress.” ■

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

More from SDReader


David Dodd Aug. 8, 2012 @ 10:59 a.m.

It's fiction. The murder of Colosio is now more of a convoluted conspiracy theory than the murder of JFK. It's fiction because there will never be a truth in this. Even the most noble of journalists will never reach any sort of a truth in this, because there isn't a truth to reach for.

This is what ALL governments do, all of them. The truth is erased before it can ever be uncovered.


Bob_Hudson Aug. 8, 2012 @ 8:46 p.m.

At the time of that campaign I worked for the late Victor Diaz, owner of the Califormula Radio Group which had radio broadcast operations in Tijuana and Chula Vista. Victor loved to talk about politics and because of my past experience in US politics (including US-Mexico policy issues), the topic came up often, and he gave me some interesting insights into Mexican politics. One he we talked about the man he jokingly called "Don Donaldo," and said, "He will never be elected." That surprised me since being the PRI candidate was tantamount to being President-elect.

The morning I heard Colosio had been killed I called Victor and reminded him of that statement. His voice became quite shrill and shaky as he almost shouted his response, "I never said that, I never said that and don't ever repeat that!"

1994 was also the year when the the secretary-general of the PRI was assassinated. A newspaper account noted, "The attorney general's office...released a report naming nearly 30 suspects. Some are "intellectual authors," some are "operational members," some are "incidental actors." Prosecutors even devised a flow chart that looks like a family tree."

The facts of these assassinations were not exactly a secret: there were lots of people involved and thanks to some of them, word traveled fast after the deed was done. Victor had once told me how his personal chief of security (a former Mexican cop) had provided details on the killing of one public figure. I got that feeling that in Mexico sharing such details was a way to show that you were in the loop, such as it was. Between the stories and some of things i witnessed myself, I learned that the PRI was not going to go down without a fight, even if it involved live ammo.

The man who replaced Colosio as the 1994 presidential candidate was the last PRI president elected and the end of his term marked the end of a 71 year virtual dictatorship by the PRI (the "perfect dictatorship," was the term applied to that reign by 2010 Nobel Prize recipient Mario Vargas Llosa).

Last month the PRI retrieved the presidency it had lost 12 years ago. It could be said that Mexico experimented with democracy in the interim and it will be interesting to see if that experiment ends and heavy-handed authoritarianism returns.

¡Qué viva México!


Visduh Aug. 10, 2012 @ 9:17 p.m.

Within a day or two prior to the assassination of Colosio, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece that said the PRI was very worried that he might LOSE. And that wasn't written by financial weenies in NYC, it was based on the best reporters they could assemble from Mexican sources. While all now seem to remember him as a charismatic speaker and a magnetic personality, others were describing him as a party hack in the PRI and the last in a series of steadily weaker candidates. Oh, yes, he had an advanced degree from some US university (maybe Harvard!), but he had only worked in the ever-more-corrupt PRI national government. Hey at that time, were there any real private-sector jobs there? So, he was one of those elites groomed for high office, and he looked as good as any other choice. I'd often thought that when he was murdered the PRI could then claim that the replacement was carrying the torch (whatever that was) for the fallen candidate, and secure election. The replacement was elected.

It all has parallels with the JFK assassination and the ascendency of LBJ. The other parallels are all the unanswered and dangling details surrounding both killings. I'm not a believer of any specific theory of conspiracy about either assassination, but I do know we never heard anything like the true story of either one.


Sign in to comment

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!