Obituary: Luis Donaldo Colosio

Luis Donaldo Colosio Murrieta, politician: born Magdalena de Kino, Mexico 1949; married; died Tijuana 23 March 1994.

LUIS DONALDO COLOSIO epitomised the 'new guard' of Mexico's long-ruling Institutional Party (PRI), a group of technocrats in their forties, including President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, a US-educated politician who attempted to cast off the party's dinosaur image after more than six decades of uninterrupted power.

By Mexican standards, Colosio was born well-off, son of a prosperous cattle rancher in the village of Magdalena de Kino in the northern state of Sonora, on the border with the US state of Arizona. Little is known of his childhood until he received a Masters degree in regional and urban development at the University of Pennsylvania in 1977 and did postgraduate studies in Austria.

As with all PRI militants, he linked his fate with one man considered to be on the rise, in his case Salinas. Such loyalty has traditionally been rewarded with senior posts, usually a ministry or other important and lucrative job. After returning from his studies in Europe, Colosio was elected first as a PRI deputy, later as a Senator. Under the long-running system by which the PRI could not lose - fraud was used if the result were in any doubt - mere nomination as PRI candidate ensured his election.

Colosio, like his later rival Manuel Camacho Solis, was a close aide to Salinas when the latter was Minister of Budget and Planning under President Miguel de la Madrid in the mid-Eighties. When de la Madrid 'unveiled' Salinas as his designated successor for the 1988 presidential election, Salinas asked Colosio to organise his campaign.

Salinas won, narrowly and only after a mysterious computer failure at the PRI-controlled National Electoral Commission. The populist opposition candidate Cuauhtemoc Cardenas claimed he had won and never recognised Salinas's victory.

Salinas then named Colosio president of the party, entrusting him the task of breathing new life in what was beginning to look like an endangered species. Colosio did make changes, bringing in younger faces, but events of recent months had begun to suggest that the changes had come too late in a nation tiring of a 'democracy' that remained largely a facade.

Colosio's big moment came on 28 November when Salinas gave him what is known in Mexico as el dedazo (the big finger), designating him as his would-be successor and candidate for this year's elections, on 21 August. For six decades, the big finger had virtually guaranteed six years' presidency. In Colosio's case, had he won, he would have taken Mexico into the 21st century.

But events, notably in the southern state of Chiapas, Camacho's rising star and reports of party splits within the PRI had already made it clear Colosio's victory was by no means assured. Then, while campaigning in Tijuana, on the Mexican border with California, he was assassinated. He was 44.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin