Polanco Air Crash

The last 24 hours have been full of drama in Mexico City after last night’s plane crash in the wealthy Polanco district. I did read a little about it last night, when it came up on my screen in ticker tape format during the US Presidential election. But I didn’t pay it much attention. I rather assumed it had gone down in some remote mountain range in the central part of the country.

Little did I know, it had actually come down in the middle of Polanco, one of (if not the) wealthiest part of Mexico City. Right next to, as in about 20 metres from, Paseo de la Reforma, the coolest and most happening road in the city. If you’ve ever checked out my photos on Flickr and seen the Angel of Independence, painted cows, skulls and chilis and the weird but wonderful benches they currently have there…that’s the road.

I only discovered that the crash had occurred in the city this morning when I asked my students what they thought of the election. None of them had seen it – every TV channel had cut off their normal broadcast to go live to the scene. Except CNN on satellite, of course. Which is what I was watching…

As it happens, I pass the spot it crashed every Monday and Wednesday. So, yep, I wandered past today, camera at the ready, seeing what sort of morbid and grisly photos I could shoot. Actually I couldn’t shoot much, because the whole area had been screened off with plastic sheets. I could see through a few gaps, and look at the cars the plane hit. Aside from the dozen or so passengers on board, there are a few bodies that will eventually be recovered from the cars it hit. It was rush hour, sadly. At least 40 people were injured according to the reports I have seen. Fortunately, it was a smallish private Leer jet and not a big Boeing.

The most visible damage are the huge burn marks and few shattered window panes on the skyscraper that the plane came down next to. Just as well it was next to, and not on top of, I guess. From the perspective of the office workers, anyway. The drivers of the cars that were hit think differently, I am sure.

So a tragic accident. Or was it? The complicating matter here, and the thing that will spring a thousand conspiracy theories – the Minister for the Interior and several other key people involved in the war with the drug cartels were on board. Including a former Attorney General who had already survived an assassination attempt.

Let’s hope it was an accident. If this were a cartel organised assassination then that possibly changes the ‘game’. The violence is already at a shockingly high level and getting worse….no (sane) person wants Mexico to turn into the mess that afflicted Colombia in the 80’s and 90’s. I hesitate to make that comparison, because the situation is along way from being truly comparable, and the circumstances of the two countries are very different. But if things do escalate, it’s a comparison that will be made, and it will be a fear on the minds of a lot of Mexicans.


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