On Monday, Martha Erika Alonso, the first female governor in the history of the Mexican state of Puebla, was killed in a helicopter crash along with her husband, Rafael Moreno Valle Rosas, who had been the governor between 2011 and 2017.
The Washington Post reported, “The Agusta 109 helicopter fell about 10 minutes after taking off from a heliport within the city of Puebla on a flight to Mexico City. It crashed in the municipality of Santa Maria Coronango, which is about 3.5 miles (5.5 kilometers) north of the city’s main airport on the western outskirts, federal Public Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo told a news conference.”
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed the deaths on Twitter Monday night, adding that the government’s investigation would “tell the truth about what happened and act accordingly.” Marko Cortes, head of the center-right National Action Party (PAN), Alonso’s party, tweeted, “We are in mourning.”
Alonso had just been sworn into office on December 14 although she had been elected over Manuel Barbosa, López Obrador’s chosen candidate for the governorship, in July, prompting Obrador’s Morena party to challenge the validity of Alonso’s election. But recently independent electoral authorities dismissed the challenge.
Barbosa said the deaths were a “tragedy that no-one wishes to anyone. I am shocked and in mourning. My sympathies to their loved ones. This is not the time to make any speculation.”
Alonso married Moreno Valle in 2004. Between 2011 and 2016, she ran the foundation for the Puebla State DIF System, which focuses on the welfare of Mexican families. In 2015, she became PAN’s state party’s secretary general, holding its second-ranking position.
Rosas’ grandfather, Rafael Moreno Valle, served as governor of Puebla from 1969-1974.
Mexico has 32 states and 2,456 municipalities. Puebla has the second-most municipalities of all the states, with 217; the state of Oaxaca has 570. Veracruz has 212. In June 2017, twelve mayors from Puebla state were arrested on suspicion of involvement in a fuel-stealing ring. Last March, it was reported that the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) was battling the cartel Los Zetas over fuel theft in Puebla. Puebla contains the vital Minatitlán-Mexico City fuel pipeline.
The Mexican army and navy used 600 troops to contain violence between the gangs.
In recent years there have been other helicopter crashes involving well-known politicians; Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora was killed in 2011; he was an important player in the war against the drug cartels. In February 2018, after a strong earthquake rocked Mexico, a military helicopter carrying top officials that was examining the damage crashed, killing 14 people on the ground, including three children.