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November 5th, 2008:

Election Night 2008: Expected Highs and Shocking Lows

Tonight John & I had the honor to witness one of the most hotly contested elections in our limited political lives, while attending the US Embassy Election Night Party in Mexico City.  Quite the interesting experience. The excitement surrounding the big Obama win was somewhat marred by the news early in the evening of a plane crash in Mexico City, only about 1 mile away from where our festivities were happening.

During the evening we learned that 8 people were killed in the plane crash, including Mexican Interior Minsiter Juan Camilo Mourino and Deputy Attorney General Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, along with at least 6 people killed on the ground & 40 injured.  Mourino was a close ally of President Calderon & the highest ranking national security official in the government, and Santiago Vasconcelos has been a key player in the army-led war on drug cartels. If those facts PLUS the fact that this incident occured on the night of the US Presidential Elections in central Mexico City one block off the major Periferico highway aren’t enough to raise your eyebrow, there’s more.

One of our friends was out at one of the rooftop restaurants here in Polanco, about 0.5 miles from the site of the crash. As a former pilot, he saw the entire thing from the roof & stated with a high degree of certainty that this did not to appear to be an “accident”, as the initial press reports claim. The Learjet dropped from normal altitude into a ~170-degree fast-paced dive towards the ground. To be clear, this was not a “oops-my-engine-went-out” or “I-lost-a-wing”, corkscrew free-fall to the ground. Rather, the plane directly nosedived at increasing speeds with lights visible the whole way down, meaning there was no loss of power. He lost sight of it after it went below the building line, but did see the massive fireball that emerged after the plane crashed into a number of parked cars that exploded around it.

Suspicions are high-to-quite-high, despite initial commentary from the Communications Minister regarding “everything pointed to the crash being caused by an accident”. Hmpf. For most of us, it seems to be a harbinger of a new level of activity among the narcotraficantes here in Mexico & a slap in the face of the government who is trying to control them. A little scary, to say the least.

On a happier note, we were thrilled to mark the momentous occaison of Barack Obama winning the US Presidential Election with probably ~1,000+ of our closest friends at the Camino Real Hotel in Mexico City! John had the priviledge of playing a key role during the night as Uncle Sam, dressed up like a Disney character who doesn’t have to talk very much, just take lots of photos. :) I was honored to join Emilia in the key role of “Uncle Sam’s Handlers”, so we escorted him around the ballroom, helping to take photos with fans & ensuring that no one got too frisky with Uncle Sam’s see-through pants.

I have to say, it was pretty exciting to hear both McCain’s concession speech as well as Obama’s acceptance speech. I got a little weepy during both, as it is pretty crazy to think about both how far we have come as country to elect an African-American to office, and how far we have yet to go to get everyone in the US on board with the concept. I will spare you any further philosophizing at 1:26AM, and just let you check out a few photos from the festivities this evening.

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