Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo showed courage, and even daring, in allowing his new attorney general, Antonio Lozano, to reopen the investigation into last year's assassination of presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio. And now that an alleged second gunman in the Colosio murder has been arrested, there can be no turning back.
The killing of Colosio stunned Mexico much as the assassinations of the Kennedy brothers and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. did the United States in the 1960s. And just as those U.S. murders remain controversial, with at least some Americans convinced that large conspiracies were behind them, so millions of Mexicans believe they have not yet been told the whole story of how and why a man widely expected to be Mexico's next president was killed as he campaigned in Tijuana.
Adding to their suspicion is the cynicism that Mexicans feel toward the powerful Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which has controlled Mexico's government for most of this century. Although Colosio was the PRI candidate, he was a reformer, and anti-reform factions of his own party may have wanted him out of the way.
That suspicion will only be fed by the fact the man accused last weekend of being the second gunman, Othon Cortez Vazquez, is a well-known PRI activist in Baja California. The man already in jail for the Colosio murder, Jose Aburto Martinez, has claimed--although he appears to be a deranged loner--that he was aided and abetted by co-conspirators.
It is no coincidence that Zedillo's attorney general is a member not of the PRI but of the opposition National Action Party. That gave Lozano the independence he needed to move aggressively on the Colosio case. Zedillo must now make sure Lozano continues to have the full backing of Mexico's potent presidency. For Lozano must determine not just exactly what happened in the Colosio murder but also why earlier investigations into the killing did not go far enough.