Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, April 13, 2018

Killing candidates in Mexico

Politics can be a deadly business in Mexico — especially for local candidates

Widespread killings of candidates cast shadow over Mexican elections
Authorities have confirmed the slayings of at least 30 candidates, according to Alfonso Navarrete, Mexico's interior secretary. Some reports indicate the toll since last year may be almost twice as high.

The killings — mostly of local candidates in provincial areas far from the Mexican capital — form a chilling backdrop to the July 1 elections, which include races for president, Congress and local posts across the country. In all, more than 3,000 offices are up for grabs, the most ever on a single day.

The slain candidates represented a range of political affiliations and movements, suggesting that the killings are more about local power grabs and gang rivalries than national conflicts among parties…

Most of the killings have garnered little attention from national news outlets, which are heavily focused on the presidential contenders, who appear daily on television…

The litany of attacks has generated profound concern here and abroad about the state of Mexican democracy.

"Mexico is suffering a risk in the legitimacy of its electoral processes," said Erubiel Tirado, a political scientist at Mexico's Iberoamerican University and an expert on violence. "The question here is: Does the Mexican state really have the capacity to protect [candidates]? I believe that it doesn't."

The increase in political slayings "is absolutely unacceptable in an electoral process," said Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States, which plans to send a team to observe Mexico's July voting…

The attacks, the interior secretary recently told reporters, are "very focused on some regions of the country," mostly in areas where organized crime often holds an insidious grip on power and federal law enforcement is stretched thin…

Among the hardest-hit places is the state of Guerrero, where political corruption is rampant and sundry factions vie for control of drug trafficking, extortion, kidnapping and other rackets. Mobsters routinely buy off local cops and politicians. Since the beginning of 2017, more than a dozen candidates have been reported slain in Guerrero…

There were no assassinations of mayors during the 1980s and 1990s, according to Justice in Mexico, a research project at the University of San Diego. But today, being a mayor or other regional lawmaker may be among the country's most dangerous jobs.

Mexico's National Assn. of Mayors recently reported that more than 100 mayors, mayors-elect and ex-mayors had been slain since 2006…

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