Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, October 10, 2008

Drugs, violence, and politics in Mexico

Another connection between Mexico's drug wars and politics

Killing of Mexico mayor sends message

Mourners fill the streets of the resort town at the weekend funeral of Mayor Salvador Vergara Cruz, killed by hooded assassins while he and others were driving home.

"Until he was gunned down over the weekend, Salvador Vergara Cruz was a man of some influence with a promising future in his political party. Mayor of an important resort town outside Mexico City, and a close confidant of his state's governor, Vergara apparently felt sufficiently at ease to travel without a specially assigned team of bodyguards despite receiving death threats from purported drug lords.

"The 34-year-old Vergara was killed by hooded assassins armed with semiautomatic rifles as he drove with other officials toward his home city of Ixtapan de la Sal on Saturday afternoon.

"The killing of a sitting elected official may turn out to be one of the more significant political slayings in Mexico's raging drug war, not so much because of who he was as for what his death represented.

"Prosecutors in the state of Mexico say Vergara was killed because he refused to allow drug gangs to move into and operate freely in his city, along a transit route for drugs into the nation's capital...

"The killing of Vergara may also have been intended as a message to Enrique Peña Nieto, the charismatic, high-profile governor of the state of Mexico and likely presidential candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI...

"'We will soon know what Enrique Peña Nieto is made of,' commentator Francisco Garfias wrote in the Excelsior newspaper.

"'He has the opportunity to show that he's got what it takes to aspire to the Big One in 2012,' the year of the next presidential election.

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