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Mexican Opposition Leader Dead of Cancer at 78

May 19, 1992

SAN LUIS POTOSI, Mexico (AP) _ Salvador Nava Martinez, a leading opponent of Mexico’s governing party, has died after a two-year battle against cancer, his family said. He was 78.

Nava, who died Monday night, was twice mayor of this city 250 miles north of Mexico City. Backed by his center-right National Action Party, Nava ran last year for governor of San Luis Potosi state.

Fausto Zapata Loredo of the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party was named winner, which sparked protest marches by Nava and his party. Partially as a result of the protest campaign Zapata resigned under presidential pressure and an interim governor was named pending new elections.

″He was a ceaseless, non-violent fighter for democracy,″ President Carlos Salinas de Gortari said after visiting Nava on May 9.

Nava, a doctor by training, taught at the local university and opened a clinic in San Luis Potosi to treat factory, railroad and electrical workers.

″I gave equal treatment to those who could pay for the services and those who could not,″ he told the newspaper Excelsior.

On May 10 he left a ″political testament″ to party members in which he said ″the country is reclaiming democracy and this was shown last year when we started from San Luis Potosi on our dignity march,″ a reference to the post-election protests.

″The dignity of citizens often is overpowered by power, violating the basic human rights of Mexicans,″ he said, calling for an overhaul of electoral laws.

Survivors include his wife, Maria Concepcion Calvillo, and six children.

Funeral services are planned for Wednesday.

Update hourly