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Who Killed Luis Donaldo Colosio?

An Open-and-Shut Case...

On the afternoon of March 23, 1994, Luis Donaldo Colosio, a Mexican presidential candidate, was shot in the head in the city of Tijuana during a political rally. He was young, charismatic and the candidate of the ruling PRI political party at a time when that all but guaranteed victory. His assassin, Mario Aburto, was captured at the scene and confessed. It seemed like an open-and-shut case.

...Or was it?

Nevertheless, many questions remain. Aburto has claimed, in phone conversations with his father, that he did not kill Colosio and that he was tortured to make him confess. The video of the murder shows the gunshot but not the face of the killer, who could have been among the security guards surrounding Colosio. The video also shows a shaggy man with a moustache being captured, who bears little resemblance to the clean-cut Aburto.

Also, Colosio was shot twice: once in the head, from the left, and once in the abdomen, from the right, two and one half seconds later. All of this contradictory evidence has led many Mexicans to believe in a conspiracy. Even Colosio’s parents do not think Aburto did it, or that he acted alone if he did.

If not Aburto, then who?

Some point the finger at the powerful Tijuana drug cartel, but many Mexicans believe that the assassination was ordered at the highest levels of Mexican government. At the time, Colosio had been selected as the heir apparent to the Mexican presidency by sitting president Carlos Salinas de Gortari. But powers within the party were beginning to suspect that Colosio was more radical than they thought, and that if he were elected, he would betray the wealthy corporate sponsors of the PRI and work for true reform.

This mystery will probably never be completely solved, like the Kennedy assassination, with which it is often compared. Mishandling of evidence and allegations of torture mean that there will always be doubt about Aburto, and if the government or a drug cartel was, in fact, responsible, they’ve likely destroyed any evidence of their crime.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Mexico: The Mexican Revolution, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Emiliano Zapata, Juan Rulfo, Tequila tour, Porfirio Diaz, Site History, Teotihuacan History, The Ciudad Juarez Murders and Subcomandante Marcos.

By Christopher Minster
I am a writer and editor at V!VA Travel guides here in Quito, where I specialize in adding quality content to the site and also in spooky things like...
06 Apr 2009

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