Candidate assassinations afflict Mexican elections

Presidential candidate Jose Antonio Meade (L), greets suportes at the international airport in Silao, Guanajuato state, Mexico, May 14, 2018. EPA-EFE/Jose Antonio Meade Press Office

Mexico City, May 14 (efe-epa).- Political violence, which has claimed 94 lives since the start of the current election campaign, represents a regression for the democracy that Mexico has strived to consolidate since the beginning of the 21st century.

Between turf battles among criminal groups and the government’s war on drugs is a similar scenario of violence aimed at driving political candidates out of the race.

«What defines this electoral process is all this violence to get rid of candidates with violent measures, by homicide or threats of it,» the director of the Etellekt consultancy, Ruben Salazar, told EFE.

In its fourth political violence report, published last week, Etellekt said there were 305 cases of aggression against Mexican politicians and their families since the election campaign began on Sept. 8, 2017.

This statistic includes 84 homicides, notable among which were 36 candidates, as well as office-holders, a party leader and 44 relatives of people active in politics.

Salazar believes that federal, state and local authorities are overwhelmed by the political violence because «they’re looking out for their parties’ campaigns instead of providing security for all the participants.»

This situation, he said, «is being taken advantage of by political groups that make use of this atmosphere of violence and of the incapacity of the authorities to stop it.»

The latest assassination, which occurred last Friday, was of Jose Remedios Aguirre, a candidate of the leftist Morena party for Apaseo El Alto in the central state of Guanajuato,

The report said that since the formal electoral campaign began on March 30, 72 percent of the attacks have targeted opposition politicians and candidates.

«We have a very strong element of political aggression against opposition candidates, whose defeat is sought by removing them or interfering with their campaign activities – and meanwhile the authorities do nothing about it,» Salazar said.

He added that such activities go against the quality of the democratic process in Mexico, and «are not a good sign» considering the unprecedented number of attacks.

Compared with the 70 attacks and 20 assassinations registered during the 2015 federal elections, such aggression has increased by some 400 percent, he said.

On July 1, 89 million Mexicans will be called to elect the president and those who will occupy 3,400 government positions, including legislative seats, state governorships and mayoralties.