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Mexico Mourns Colosio's Widow : Eulogies: The charismatic spouse of the slain presidential candidate dies. She had led call for full investigation into his assassination.

November 19, 1994|MARK FINEMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

MEXICO CITY — Mexico mourned the Colosio name again Friday with the death of the charismatic widow of slain presidential candidate Luis Donald Colosio, and political leaders called on investigators to intensify their probe into the unsolved killing of her husband.

Eulogies filled the capital's airwaves and houses of power throughout the day for Diana Laura Riojas de Colosio, 34, an economist who had emerged as a powerful force in the search for the truth behind her husband's assassination at a Tijuana campaign rally in March.

Three months after her husband--the ruling party's presidential heir apparent--was gunned down, Colosio's widow stunned the nation by suggesting in a letter to prosecutors that there was evidence indicating that the killing "could have been planned by a mastermind."

Later, she toured Europe, meeting Pope John Paul II and key opinion makers in a campaign for a thorough investigation back home.

Government prosecutors, who publicly maintain that they are continuing their investigation, so far have blamed the killing on a single man, Mario Aburto Martinez, who has been convicted and sentenced to 42 years in prison.

During Riojas' hospitalization in the last month, reportedly for pancreatic cancer, several analysts had speculated that her death could reduce public pressure for a deeper probe into the assassination.

Unofficial sources have blamed the assassination variously on rival politics or the drug gangs that reformer Colosio had vowed to destroy.

In several speeches in the House of Deputies on Friday, legislators said Riojas' death should have the opposite effect. In unison, ruling party and opposition deputies called for an acceleration of the probe, with several stressing that the widow's strength of conviction should be remembered by the official agencies charged with resolving her husband's death.

Mexico City Mayor Manuel Aguilera Gomez added his voice to the appeal, declaring in a radio interview: "It is not the task just of this administration but also of the incoming administration to continue, deepen and intensify" the Colosio investigation.

President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who had chosen Colosio as his successor in the tradition of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, canceled most of his public appearances Friday. He visited the Mexico City funeral home where Riojas' body lay in state, offering condolences and praise.

"This moment is very sad and painful for everyone," the president said, adding that Riojas "left us a legacy of great determination to live, to fight against adversity, to always keep a positive spirit, to learn."

The day before Riojas' death, Salinas, whose six-year term ends in two weeks, toured two Mexican states dedicating memorial projects in her husband's name.

He christened the Luis Donaldo Colosio Dam in the state of Sinaloa, "to put into cement a construction that will last for centuries and serve as a memory of Colosio."

And the president paid a final, official visit to Colosio's hometown of Magdalena de Kino, where "we come to reaffirm the memory and affection that forever we will carry in our hearts."

During her seven months in Mexico's spotlight, Riojas became a symbol of far more than justice in her husband's slaying. A Sept. 11 column titled "The Women" in the daily newspaper La Jornada said she had left a permanent mark on the nation.

"The drama of Diana Laura Riojas de Colosio has left a positive lesson that is strengthening Mexican society: the lesson of integrity," it said.

"Diana Laura never bowed or yielded. . . . We are never going to be able to repay her for the lesson of courage and integrity that she has offered us."

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