Who Is Assassin Miguel Cruz?

The Dominican Republic government functions a bit similar to other governments like the U.S. There is a representative democracy, judicial and legislative branches, universal suffrage, and four-year presidential terms, according to Britannica. And, like some other politicians in history, the Dominican Republic's politicians are subject to assassinations in office. Jorge Mera was one such politician. 

On June 6, 2022, a man by the name of Fausto Miguel de Jesús Cruz de la Mota fired a gun at Mera and killed him. As told by ABC News, Jorge Mera was a Dominican Republic minister in charge of environment and natural resources. 

As of this reporting, there was no stated motivation for the murder, but officials are still investigating. Cruz willingly turned himself in to the authorities. The killer, Cruz, happened to be a close friend of Mera's, which raises the question: why did he shoot him? And who exactly is Cruz to begin with? 

Miguel Cruz was a childhood friend of Jorge Mera

The motivation behind an assassination can sometimes be murky or downright unknown at times. And people don't always have direct connections or relations with those they attempt to assassinate. But that wasn't the case with Cruz, as he was actually a close friend of Mera's. 

According to El Pais, Cruz and Mera, who was 55, had known each other since childhood, developing a very tight friendship over the years. The fact that they were both so close to each other makes the situation even stranger. Homer Figuero, a spokesperson for Mera's office, confirmed this friendship, as told by Reuters, giving context to the tragedy. 

As El Pais says, Cruz and Mera were students in school together and carried a friendship well into their adulthood. These details might give officials more clues on what exactly Cruz's motivation was for slaying a close friend. 

Jorge Mera came from an influential political family with high connections

Jorge Mera exercised a fair amount of political power and influence when he was alive, which might have drawn the killer's attention. Mera was both a lawyer and a politician, and became a Dominican Republic minister in August 2020, according to El Nacional.

Mera's political career didn't happen in a vacuum, however, as he came from an already politically influential family. Mera's father was Salvador Jorge Blanco, who was president of the Dominican Republic from 1982 to 1986. And, according to ABC News, Mera's sister is also politically involved, serving as a vice-minister for current Dominican Republic president Luis Abinader. On top of that, one of Mera's sons also works in politics as a lawmaker for the Modern Revolutionary Party. His politicd might have been fraught with some conflict between people, like his friend Cruz and his company. 

Miguel Cruz was a businessman affected by Mera's environmental policies

There might be one major factor in the shooting that could have influenced Cruz's decision to murder Mera: business conflict. Cruz himself was a businessman and owned a company that was involved in resource extraction from the Cibao region. According to El Pais, Mera and Cruz had an argument over environmental regulations, which is a possible explanation for things getting heated. 

The El Nacional points out that, as a Dominican Republic ministry, environmental regulations fell under Mera's tasks. He put forth a "no tolerance" policy in the two years of his career in terms of pollution and waste management. Mera was also in charge of overseeing conservation and eco management, along with natural resource use. This could have hit a nerve with Cruz, whose own company was extracting natural resources in rivers, and might have failed some environmental regulations. 

Cruz was trusted enough to bypass security

One of the stranger points in this story is just how effortlessly Cruz was able to bypass security and murder Mera in his own office. As said before, both Mera and Cruz were long-time friends, but some officials believe that this friendship facilitated Mera in his plot. 

Fausto Rosario Adames, the Director of Acento, a digital newspaper in the Dominican Republic, said that Cruz might have exploited the trust that he and Mera both fostered in their youth. "There was an overconfidence of the security personnel and the minister himself. This person was a childhood friend, fellow student. They had many years of friendship. There are many photographs in which the two are together," Adames said (via El Pais).

Not much information at the time is known, but reports say that Mera's trust in Cruz allowed him to easily bypass three doors before the ministerial office. This might be one major determining factor in how the murder was successfully accomplished. According to the El Nacional, Cruz was able to successfully carry out his assassination by infiltrating one of Mera's weekly meetings. 

Cruz confessed his crime to a priest and turned himself in

Right after the murder, Miguel Cruz decided to make a getaway to a church not too far away from the crime scene. What makes this even stranger is that Cruz reportedly did not put up a fight, but instead chose to surrender himself completely. According to The Hindu, Cruz confessed his crime to a priest and gave him the murder weapon. It wasn't long before heavily armed police showed up and found Cruz outfitted with a bulletproof vest and helmet. 

While Cruz was being taken into custody, there were bystanders who shout at him as he walked with the police. According to the Washington Post, Cruz, who fired multiple bullets at his childhood friend, told the police himself on the phone at the church that he would be arrested without a struggle, so long as the cops did not shoot him on the spot.