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MEXICO: A Tragic Death--Raul Ramos Tercero, a Stanford Alumnus

Seldom has a death shaken Mexico so much as that of Raul Ramos Tercero, one of Mexico's most promising economists. He received two graduate degrees in economics from Stanford, and studied as well at Oxford. He was a deeply serious individual, having been educated first by the monks of Tepeyac College in Mexico. He was Subsecretary of the Commerce and Finance Ministry, an important job.

He went to an isolated park on the Mexico City-Toluca road and stabbed himself six times, in each arm and leg and then in both sides of his neck. It was a slow, miserable death. He left letters to his parents, wife and children saying that he had always striven to lead an honest life and he could not bear that scandal in which he was involved.

He was referring to RENAVE. the national registry of vehicles which was run by an Argentine company, represented by Miguel Angel Cavallo, now in jail indicted as a war criminal in by a Spanish court for his participation in killings by the Argentine military. RENAVE, denounced as a racket and very unpopular and was abolished. Ramos Tercero was the government official charged with handling the contract, and he probably had received nasty letters blaming him for the disgraceful affair. In any case, he felt disgraced.

Since political murders are common in Mexico, it was at first suspected that he had been murdered. There were indeed some odd circumstances. All those who take the Mexico-Toluca toll road are automatically photographed, but for some unexplained reason the day he took the road the camera was not working. However, the letters he had left his family were examined and judged authentic, and the wounds indicated suicide, not murder.

This led to the study of the many suicides of prominent Mexicans. The murders and the suicides were evidence of the unbearable tensions of public life in Mexico. Fortunately Vicente Fox seems to have iron nerves and to be a thoroughly decent person. Perhaps he is the best medicine for Mexico.

Ronald Hilton - 9/09/00