This article is from the March 1999 The Mexico File newsletter.
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By Bruce McGovern

Bruce McGovern retired in 1997 and moved from Iowa to McAllen, Texas. He spent 102 days in Mexico last year, mostly in his house in Mexico City located two miles west of the zócalo. He also visits the small village in Puebla where his wife was born. He says he cares little for buildings and historical sites, but “I do love the Mexican people beyond my ability to articulate.” He offers a series of short essays on Mexican life which we will print in upcoming editions of MF. 

My niece, 'Liliana,' works for Martí, the president of the Mexico City Assembly, which may be similar to a city council in our country.  Based on her duties, I assumed she was an executive assistant, but I have learned he has three assistants, with major projects and tasks divided among them.  So, my latest guess is she's more like a member, perhaps a minor member, of a cabinet.  I am obviously not an expert on Mexican government.

She has a close relationship with him, and they tease each other a lot on the job.

On May 30, Liliana and I were in the TV room.  A friend called, and told her Martí had been shot the night before.  She was understandably a bit upset, so she started trying to verify the shooting.  Martí didn't answer his phone, and neither did any of his other close male associates.  So, we went out to see if there was a late newspaper, but they don't print on Saturday.  Since I first met her, I've gone for walks with her, hand in hand, but this time, while scurrying down the street, looking for a paper, she held my hand a lot harder than usual!

As soon as we realized there would be no newspaper coverage available until the next day, we went home and simply talked, as people tend to do in times of confusion and stress.  Finally, my youngest niece called, and reported he wasn't injured.  But, an attempted assassination had taken place on his way home from a party the night before, I think in the Historic Center.

Liliana said, "I was invited to go to that party with him, and I'd have been in his car, but my boyfriend (the European journalist) asked me to go out with him."

The PRD officials refuse to use any personal security at all, possibly preferring to avoid the appearance of arrogance that goes with a politician surrounded by armed bodyguards.

Liliana was pretty upset.  I reminded her that we had a talk several years ago, and I had warned her that any unpopular political activity carries a large risk of violence, or other serious repercussions.  At that time, she said she understood that, and was willing to take that risk, but clearly the taste of reality is far different from theory.

At first, I told her not to get too emotional about it.  Later, I told her that was wrong, that she should get as emotional as she wished, Saturday and Sunday, but Monday morning, she should get to work on time (thereby creating a second assassination attempt, because her boss would probably have a terminal heart attack if she ever made it to work on time), and when he came in, lead a standing ovation for him, then go back to work in a professional manner. That seemed to help.

The next morning, all the papers had articles, and several had pictures.  The windshield, right in front of the driver's seat, did not shatter, but the location of the bullet marks showed it was not a scare tactic; they meant to kill him.

And the back window was shot to ribbons.  Clearly, if a greater number of people had been riding in that car, there is a strong probability someone would have been hurt.

Four days later, the arrest of a suspect was announced. They may even have the right person, because the police had eyewitness descriptions of the car and motorcycle involved.

Recently, Liliana said Martí has chosen not to change anything he does or where he goes.

I wonder how long our governors and key Federal officials would last if they all decided to move around with no armed escorts?