Transparency & accountability

Federal District official suspended in connection to party thrown in famed Mexico City cemetery

La Rotonda de las Personas Ilustres. Photo:
La Rotonda de las Personas Ilustres. Photo:

07/26/14 (written by cmolzahn) — Rafael del Val Ruíz, the sub-director of Public Services for the Miguel Hidalgo delegation of the Federal District (Distrito Federal, DF), has been suspended for three years from public service for allegedly issuing a permit granting access to the famed Panteón de Dolores cemetery to a production company that led to a party being held in the mausoleum containing the remains of some of Mexico’s most notable historical figures. Delegation Chief Victor Hugo Romo announced the suspension against del Val Ruíz, despite acknowledging that, “there was wrongful use of the permit granted [to the production party].” The permit in question, though unusual, was for the filming of a music video.

The party in question was to celebrate the 35th birthday of Televisa actress Claudia Cervantes Hinojosa who is also, incidentally, the niece of former President Felipe Calderón. The party, which included a DJ, a mariachi band, alcohol, and around a hundred guests, took place in the Rotunda of Illustrious People (Rotonda de las Personas Ilustres) in the Panteón de Dolores, which includes the graves of many celebrated Mexican figures, including muralists Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco; writers Rosario Castellanos and Amado Nervo; and politicians Ignacio Manuel Altamirano and Ponciano Arriaga, among many others. Photos of partygoers posing next to monuments were first disseminated by the magazine TV Noticias, and amidst the ensuing outcry the actress issued a public apology. TV Noticias reported that, while holding parties in Federal District mausoleums is generally prohibited, an exception was made for Cervantes, as she was appearing in a television program “foment[ing] the culture of the Miguel Hidalgo delegation.” Thus, special permission was granted to the actress, “as long as nothing was mistreated.” For its part, the government of Miguel Hidalgo confirmed that Claos Entertainment had requested permission to record a music video portraying a party celebrating life in death, and that it had granted permission for the video, but not for a party. The photos that emerged from the “simulated party,” including one of designer Sara Bustani pretending to kiss the mask resting on the tomb of Diego Rivera, sparked public outrage over the privileged status that celebrities enjoy, with Cervantes baptized as “#LadyRotonda” across social networks. Rafael Tovar y de Teresa, president of the National Council for Culture and the Arts (Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Conaculta), decried the event, which he said represented “a lack of seriousness that does not correspond with the role of a Rotonda that celebrates the trajectory of life or exceptional acts that have contributed to forming the common heritage of Mexicans.”

The government of Miguel Hidalgo, headed by Víctor Hugo Romo, announced that it had opened an investigation into the incident, that would result in a fine for the production house Claos Entertainment, owned by Cervantes, as well as appropriate sanctions for any public officials found to be complicit in granting access to the cemetery. In addition to the suspension of del Val Ruíz, the government announced a fine levied against Cervantes’ production company. Initially, the fine leveled against Claos Entertainment by Miguel Hidalgo was set at $33,365 pesos (roughly $2,600 USD), but was later increased tenfold, as requested by the Federal District Comptroller General (Controloría General del Distrito Federal).


“Actriz de Televisa hace fiesta en la Rotonda de las Personas Ilustres.” Proceso. July 9, 2014.

“Separan a quien avaló fiesta en Rotunda.” Reforma. July 10, 2014.

Páez, Alfredo. “Acatará MH recomendación por Rotonda.” Reforma. July 22, 2014.

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