Monday, November 14, 2011
SAN DIEGO For the second time in three years, Mexico has lost a top-ranked cabinet member in a plane crash. The two incidents are similar in several ways.
On Nov. 11, the country’s Secretary of Interior José Francisco Blake Mora died in a helicopter crash, along with seven others, between Mexico City and Cuernavaca.
In November 2008, the crash of a Learjet in Mexico City killed Mexico’s Secretary of Interior at the time: Juan Camilo Mourino. A total of 14 people died that night.
Soon thereafter, there was rampant speculation the jet was sabotaged by the country’s ruthless drug cartels. Investigators eventually blamed pilot error because the private jet flew into the wake turbulence of a larger, commercial jet it was trailing.
Barely three years later, Blake's helicopter crashed.
The conspiracy theorists have taken to social media to speculate about the cause of the crash.
Mexican officials are trying to squelch the rumors. They held a press conference Saturday in Mexico City in which they shared the radar readings of the helicopter. For unknown reasons, the pilot deviated from the route he planned to take. There was heavy fog in the area at the time of the crash.
Looking somber, Mexican President Felipe Calderon said that Blake was “a great patriot” and the crash was probably an accident.
Blake, the No. 2 official in Mexico, had strong ties to the U.S.-Mexico border.
According to his official biography, Blake's rise to power started in Tijuana when he obtained his law degree from the Autonomous University of Baja California. He later studied Public Policy at Mexico’s Autonomous Institute of Technológy.
A member of the PAN party, he was elected to the Tijuana city council in 1995, and later served as an official in the federal election department.
In 2004, he won a seat to congress in the Mexican state of Baja California, and was later named to a cabinet post in the state government.
Mexican President Calderon, also a member of the PAN party, named him Secretary of the Interior in July 2010. Blake quickly became a key player in Calderon’s ongoing battle against drug cartels.
Blake was last in the region in September at a conference for border governors at the vineyards outside of Ensenada in Baja California.