· A Nov. 6 A-section article incorrectly said that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff called Miguel Monterrubio of Mexico's Interior Ministry, who died in a plane crash this week, "a courageous and strong partner in the fight against dangerous criminal groups." Chertoff was referring to Mexican Interior Secretary Juan Camilo Mourino, who also died in the crash; Monterrubio was Mourino's spokesman.
Mexico Plane Crash Kills Familiar Figure On Diplomatic Scene
Thursday, November 6, 2008
A plane crash that killed Mexico's interior minister Tuesday in the Mexican capital also killed his spokesman, Miguel Monterrubio, who had served in Washington as embassy spokesman and was a familiar face on the diplomatic scene.
The officials were returning from a ceremony in the city of San Luis Potosi when their government Learjet went down in the posh Lomas de Chapultepec neighborhood, killing all nine people aboard and four on the ground.
Monterrubio, 43, had recently joined the staff of Interior Secretary Juan Camilo Mourino, head of domestic security and the most powerful man in Mexico after the country's president.
Monterrubio "had the exceptional qualities you need for public office -- commitment, talent and loyalty," the former Mexican ambassador, Juan Jose Bremer, said of his press attache.
As former Mexican President Vicente Fox's first ambassador to present credentials to the Bush administration, Bremer had requested that Monterrubio, then stationed in London, join him in Washington. The two were posted here between 2000 and 2004.
"I cannot imagine a day during which I cannot be in contact with him," said Bremer, who had remained close with Monterrubio. "He was very central to all we tried to achieve. The ups, the downs, all the things I did in D.C. were done with him. He was engaged and an absolute asset."
Bremer and Monterrubio worked together on the thorny issues of illegal immigration and the "matricula consular," an identification card that Mexico issues to nationals living abroad. They also helped arrange Fox's first state visit, to President Bush's first state dinner on Sept. 5, 2001, when the two governments were embroiled in debates over trade and amnesty for undocumented Mexican workers in the United States.
Monterrubio sought to elucidate the finer points of those discussions, and introduced journalists to marvels of Mexican culture, such as the Day of the Dead, a holiday that features hot chocolate, sweet buns and offerings of brandy and cigars to the departed. He also hosted tours of the Mexican Cultural Center on 16th Street to showcase murals of fabled painter Diego Rivera, husband of artist Frida Kahlo.
Yesterday, investigators examining the scene of the crash and the plane's black box said they had found no evidence of foul play, the Reuters news service reported. U.S. and British teams were asked to assist the investigation. Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, a leading adviser to President Felipe Calderon in the drug war and a former deputy attorney general, was also among the victims, Reuters said.
"As far as we know, it has the features of an accident," Bremer said. "But all options are open. What I can assure you is that the government is putting together the most professional and independent investigation possible."
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff called Monterrubio "a courageous and strong partner in the fight against dangerous criminal groups."
Mexico's current embassy spokesman, Ricardo Alday, who studied at the Universidad Iberoamericana with Monterrubio, said of his former classmate: "He had an outstanding knack for politics and for the politics of diplomacy."
Monterrubio is survived by his wife, Maru, and two young children, Miguel and Mateo.