Bloomberg News

Funeral Honors Mexico’s No. 2 as Crash Evidence Signals Accident

November 13, 2011

Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Mexican investigators presented radar and video images supporting their findings that fog in the mountains around the capital caused the helicopter crash that killed the country’s second-highest official.

The reports yesterday eased concerns Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora may have fallen victim to assassination as President Felipe Calderon eulogized his top Cabinet member.

Blake Mora, 45, was among eight people killed Nov. 11 when his Super Puma helicopter went down en route from Mexico City to a prosecutors’ meeting in the central city of Cuernavaca. Cameras captured foggy conditions around the capital that morning, and radar showed how the pilot left his planned route, presumably to find a clearer course, according to evidence presented yesterday by the government.

“We have no indication, no suggestion from what we’ve collected with the available information at this moment, that would make one think that this could be anything but an accident,” Communications and Transportation Minister Dionisio Perez-Jacome said yesterday, responding to a reporter’s question on whether the minister had been targeted by a drug gang.

Perez-Jacome was making his second public comments since the incident as the administration downplayed such theories. Initial concerns that Blake Mora’s death signaled an escalation of cartel violence erased gains in the Mexican peso on Nov. 11, leading the currency to its second weekly decline as it closed little changed on the day.

Calderon, speaking yesterday at a funeral service in Mexico City, called Blake Mora “one of my closest collaborators and dearest friends.”

‘Move Forward’

The Mexican leader praised Blake Mora’s work as coordinator of his security cabinet and said he promoted dialogue between public officials and victims of Mexico’s soaring drug cartel violence.

Calderon said the nation had been tested by other tragedies and that the death of Blake Mora wouldn’t hold up progress in his government.

“I’m absolutely sure that Mexico will move forward, once more, with the strength of its people,” he said.

Blake Mora is the second interior minister in the administration to die in an aviation accident. Juan Camilo Mourino died along with security officials when their Learjet plane crashed in a Mexico City neighborhood three years ago.

Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, who served as former President Vicente Fox’s top prosecutor against organized crime, also died in the crash, which killed 15 people. The government blamed the incident on pilot error.

No Fire

Evidence collected at the helicopter crash site suggests there was no fire or explosion aboard the aircraft, Perez-Jacome said.

The distribution of the debris was orderly and rectangular in a space of no more than 200 meters (656 feet) by 40 meters, suggesting the helicopter crashed under “normal” flight conditions and at a slow speed, Gilberto Lopez Meyer, the ministry’s head official for airports and auxiliary services, said at the same event.

The interior minister coordinates policy between Mexico’s security forces and oversees the administration’s relations with Congress, response to natural disasters and the monitoring of dissident groups.

--Editor: Paul Tighe, Jim McDonald

To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan J. Levin in Mexico City at jlevin20@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net.


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