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Plagued by Suspicion, Mexico Marks Anniversary of Candidate’s Murder

March 23, 1995

MAGDELENA DE KINO, Mexico (AP) _ Just south of the Arizona border, in Luis Donaldo Colosio’s hometown, admirers of the slain presidential candidate gathered Thursday around his grave.

Audelia Medina, a resident resident 40 miles south of Nogales, Ariz., just stared.

``You left behind a very mixed up Mexico,″ she said, addressing Colosio.

Plagued by uncertainty about who wanted to kill him and why, Mexico marked the first anniversary of Colosio’s assassination in a climate of economic and political turmoil, and suspicion of high-level conspiracy.

Although two gunmen have been arrested, the March 23, 1994, assassination of the man who seemed destined to become president remains a mystery.

At a ceremony for Colosio in Mexico City, President Ernesto Zedillo on Thursday reiterated his vow ``to fully clear up the brutal crime that took the life of the best man in our Mexico.″

``We will not rest until we are certain that all of society knows the truth,″ Zedillo said at the dedication of a bronze bust of the man he served as campaign manager and later replaced as candidate.

Several hundred people, including Colosio’s father and a brother, attended the ceremony in a small Mexico City park.

Similar observances were held throughout Mexico, including one in the Tijuana shantytown where Colosio was gunned down during a campaign rally.

``We hope his death was not in vain,″ said Antonio Cano Jimenez, a local official of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, in Tijuana’s Lomas Taurinas community.

Residents of Colosio’s hometown rebuked ruling party officials, including party president Maria de los Angeles, when they held a brief memorial in Magdalena del Kino on Wednesday.

Some residents blame the PRI for Colosio’s killing.

``Get out of here!″ shouted Elza Durazo. ``You people are to blame for what happened to Luis Donaldo!″

Townsfolk said the assassination demolished their faith in Mexico’s political system, dominated since 1929 by the PRI.

``With Luis Donaldo’s death, I no longer believe in anything,″ said Rebeca Ruvalcaba, a cafeteria manager. ``My enthusiasm for politics is finished. For us, hope is gone.″

Colosio’s murder is one of three high-profile assassinations in Mexico that remain unsolved. The other two: the Sept. 28, 1994, assassination of the PRI’s No. 2 man, Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu, and the May 1993 slaying of a Roman Catholic cardinal in the western state capital of Guadalajara.

Attorney General Antonio Lozano Gracia, an opposition party lawmaker named to the probes to help boost their credibility, announced last month that a second gunman, Othon Cortes Vazquez, 38, had been arrested in the Colosio killing. The arrest confirmed a widespread belief that Colosio had been killed by conspirators.

Gracia also revealed that the investigation record had been altered.

Before that, the government insisted the murder was the work of a lone gunman, 23-year-old factory worker Mario Aburto Martinez, who was convicted and sentenced to 45 years.

Lozano insisted Wednesday there was no sign of a link between the Colosio and Ruiz Massieu cases, a connection that many Mexicans suspect.

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