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Air crash victim traveled the world, but planned to return to Merida, says kin

Graziella de Louis Ponce missed her Yucatec roots, says cousin

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Graziella de Luis Ponce meets with the pope. Photo: Courtesy

Graziella de Luis Ponce, 63, the lone Mexican citizen to die in last weekend’s deadly plane crash, was about to retire and planned to live in Merida, her friends say.

The crash killed all 157 people on board Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 plane.

A cousin of the victim told reporters that Luis Ponce was months from retiring after a life of traveling for her job as a United Nations simultaneous translator. Family members say she was fluent in between six and eight languages.

She was also a member of a prominent family, connected to major Yucatecan businesses.

The cousin, Mayo Ponce Laviada, said the crash victim “missed her Yucatecan roots.”

A relative told the BBC that “Gachi,” as she was known, intended to buy a home in Merida and spend more time here.

“She was a very independent woman, she loved traveling and getting to know new countries, she had friends all over the world and she felt comfortable anywhere, she was truly a citizen of the world,” says a niece, Maria Capetillo, in an interview with the BBC.

Capetillo says that the family agreed to talk with the BBC to clarify incorrect information published by other media, including a photograph and the name of the victim.

She was traveling with colleagues to Nairobi to work at the IV Assembly of the UN for the Environment. More than 5,000 representatives of 193 countries, including heads of state and ministers, were gathering to discuss global sustainability.

She was the daughter of Graziella Ponce Rubio, who died in 2017, and was the granddaughter of businessman Fernando Ponce García. She is survived by her father, who lives in Spain; and her sister Isabel de Luis Ponce, in Geneva; and a brother Javier, who lives in Boston.

Masses will be held for Luis Ponce at María Imaculada church in Campestre on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Sources: BBC, El Heraldo de Mexico, Sipse

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