113 Politicians Murdered As Mexico’s Biggest Election Ever Approaches
As the biggest election in Mexico’s history gets closer,so grows the death toll of politicians in Mexico. Between September and last week, 113 politicians including 43 political candidates have met untimely deaths at the hands of unknown assailants and there are palpable fears that the number of deaths will continue to rise.
The killings are believed to be perpetrated by Mexico’s organized crime groups which often target local politicians who speak out against corruption, crime and gangs. Women and family members have not been spared in the political killings either. Earlier in June, three female political candidates were shot dead within 24 hours, Vox reported.
One victim, Pamela Terán, who was running for council in Juchitán, was shot dead on June 2 while leaving a restaurant in Oaxaca; her father and a photographer were also killed.
Last Friday, Fernando Purón, a congressional candidate, was shot dead in Piedras Negras while taking a selfie with a supporter following a debate with his rivals.
Violence Flares, Biggest Election in Mexican History
There are over 3,400 open seats to be filled at local, state and federal levels in the coming general election on July 1. The election includes a presidential election. There over 100 elective positions to fill in the Senate and 500 positions to fill in the House of Representatives, known in Mexico as the Chamber of Deputies. The sheer number of open seats make the election the largest in Mexico’s history. NPR reported Mexico recorded 29,168 homicides last year.
Politicians, however, are feeling the pressure of the political assassinations. BuzzFeed reported that over 600 contenders have pulled out of political races out of fear of being killed. Mexico is also expected to record the highest murder tally ever since records began in 1997 once all the 2017 data is finalized.
“Violence is altering the profile of candidates,” Alejandro Hope, a security analyst, told BuzzFeed News. “Who sticks around? The reckless and those who collude [with criminals].”
Some think the increase in violence is due to Mexico’s offensive on drug cartels which has splintered bigger cartels into hundreds of offshoot criminal organizations. The splintering has made it harder to control organized crime’s influence. In BuzzFeed’s report, they claimed “before the cartels operated on the sidelines — with the state’s tacit acceptance,” but now the smaller groups are fighting for power.
“Many years ago, crime used to be controlled, or administered, by the state,” Supreme Court Judge José Ramón Cossío told BuzzFeed News. Now, “in some cases, it seems like crime is beginning to gain territory in the governing bodies.” Some politicians even fear using police protection, as they don’t know if any of the police are working with criminal organizations.
July 1 will be a pivotal day for Mexico, but will the political assassinations stop after the election?