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Dusty Hometown of Slain Candidate Sees Hopes Dashed With His Death With AM-Mexico-Rebellion

March 26, 1994

MAGDALENA DE KINO, Mexico (AP) _ When Luis Donaldo Colosio was chosen as the presidential candidate for Mexico’s ruling party, it was like winning the lottery for this gritty northwestern town where he grew up.

Colosio’s Institutional Revolutionary Party has not lost a single presidential election since it was founded in 1929. And Mexican presidents traditionally shower their hometowns with government largesse.

But with Colosio’s assassination on Wednesday, hopes here were reduced to dust, like the grit blowing about the arid town of 20,000.

″We were so proud of him,″ said Czarina Navarro de Bagarin, 35.

From her sandwich stand outside the cemetery where Colosio was buried on Friday, Navarro pointed to a playground across the street.

″We were working so hard to clean everything up, to paint those benches over there ... Now no one feels like doing anything.″

Arturo Lopez, 27, nodded in agreement while sipping a soda.

″We have here the most important churches in the state of Sonora. We have rivers and hunting,″ he said, adding that more government funds would have helped tourism, particularly from just across the border in Arizona.

The breeze carries the sounds of cows lowing and turkeys gobbling, and occasional gusts of hot wind kick up billows of dirt from stony paths between the family plots in the cemetery where Colosio was buried.

Town leaders had hoped their new-found fame would draw attention to Magdalena’s colonial-era church and plaza, shaded by enormous trees and surrounded by arcaded shops. Father Eusebio Kino, a 17th century Roman Catholic priest who evangelized among the region’s Indians, is buried there.

A new school and gymnasium have been started. But residents wonder what might have been if Colosio had gone on to win the Aug. 21 election.

An even smaller town, Agualeguas, in the neighboring state of Nuevo Leon, is a shining example of what can happen when the hometown boy makes good.

The ancestral home of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, Agualeguas had a new baseball park and new bull ring built beside the new road leading to the new airstrip and the new four-lane highway.

Centuries-old houses in Agualeguas shine with new paint, and the austere church of Agualeguas has been renovated.

Navarro, the sandwich-seller, sighed and slumped on the counter. ″We could have been like Agualeguas,″ she said. ″We will never get another chance like that.″

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