Washington Post Obit on Mario Vazquez Rana

(Here is The Washington Post obit on Mario Vazquez Rana dated Monday, Feb. 10, 2015)


Mario Vazquez Rana, a Mexican businessman and media baron who owned the Washington-based news agency United Press International in the late 1980s and was a prominent former member of the International Olympic Committee, died Feb. 8 in Mexico City. He was 82.

The Mexican Olympic Committee announced the death. The cause was cancer, according to Mexican media reports.

Mr. Vazquez Rana headed the Organizacion Editorial Mexicana, the country's largest newspaper company. In 1986, he led a group of investors who paid $41 to rescue the financially struggling wire service UPI.

UPI underwent tremendous turmoil among its editorial ranks. Top-ranked editors left, saying they could not assure quality. Ranking executives and editors were fired. Morale plummeted, leading to byline strikes.

The company, never flush with cash, could not stabilize its finances. In 1988, Mr. Vazquez Rana sold UPI to Infotechnology Inc., a conglomerate. It later came under the control of an affiliate of the Unification Church, founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

Mr. Vazquez Rana was the long-time head of the Association of National Olympic Committees, which made him one of the most powerful players for years inside the IOC. He also was a former executive board member of the IOC and was the president of the Pan American Sports Organization.

In 2012, he resigned all his IOC positions and gave up control of ANOC. The action came after it was clear he faced a possible revolt from ANOC delegates who wanted to remove him from his powerful post.

He had two years remaining in the ANOC position when he stepped down.

Mr. Vazquez Rana had headed ANOC since 1979 and used the office as his power base. He was a close ally of former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, who died in 2010.

Survivors include his wife, Francisca Ramos, and five children.