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Wave of Political Murders in Mexico Threatens Democracy as Candidates Campaign Under Armed Guard

Political candidates in certain regions of Mexico are confronted with significant threats and acts of violence as the country approaches its elections on June 2.

Ramiro Solorio, who is running for mayor of Acapulco, represents the dangerous and risky nature of the campaign climate.

Protected by a contingent of 15 National Guard troops, Solorio wears a helmet and bulletproof vest, symbolizing the serious dangers that candidates encounter.

From September to May, a total of 34 candidates or potential candidates have been slain due to the violence, which is primarily associated with drug gangs attempting to exert their influence on municipal elections.

The state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is situated, has experienced the largest number of political assassinations, with six candidates being assassinated.

Solorio, a representative of the Social Encounter Party, has focused his campaign mostly on the issue of security.

Frequently donning a blue “lucha libre” mask and adopting the moniker “El Brother,” he pledges to combat crime and corruption. “The simultaneous existence of the government and crime is an undeniable fact,” he asserts, vowing to eradicate corruption in local administration.

It is anticipated that the ruling MORENA party, under the leadership of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, would secure a decisive victory in the upcoming presidential election.

Nevertheless, the acts of violence targeting local candidates bring negative attention to Lopez Obrador’s legacy, emphasizing the criticism of his administration’s security performance.

Although there was a documented reduction of 5% in homicides last year, the number of murders remains disturbingly high, with an estimated annual count of about 30,000 during his presidency.

Eloy Salmeron, the leader of the opposition PAN party in Guerrero, highlights the specific regions where candidates are prohibited from campaigning owing to safety apprehensions. “There is a significant amount of fear,” he acknowledges.

According to the risk consultant Integralia, this election cycle has witnessed the largest tally of reported violent events against candidates, reaching a total of 560.

The effect on local government politics is significant, posing a threat to the democratic process. Due to the prevalence of cartel violence, authorities in Tumbiscatio, Michoacan have determined that the town is too hazardous to accommodate a voting booth.

As a result, inhabitants are need to drive to nearby towns in order to cast their votes. Eleven proposed voting booth locations in Michoacan have been scrapped owing to security concerns.

Vicente Sanchez, a security expert at the public research institute Colegio de la Frontera Norte, characterizes the situation as an assault on democracy.

Organized crime syndicates adeptly select local officials by eliminating those who resist their influence.

Francisco Huacus, a candidate from the opposition PRD party in Michoacan, campaigns in an armored vehicle and flak jacket, demonstrating the challenging and dangerous conditions that candidates face, similar to those in a warzone.

Although the Mexican government has provided security protection to approximately 500 candidates, this figure accounts for only a small proportion of the more than 20,000 political positions being contested in the 2018 elections.

Solorio’s campaign in Acapulco persists despite the presence of these threats.

Donning his azure lucha libre mask, he assumes a wrestler’s stance and proclaims, “We shall champion justice in Acapulco,” while armed sentinels remain watchful, guaranteeing his protection.

The ongoing violence and the Mexican government’s difficulties in protecting its democratic process highlight the significant issues that the nation faces as it nears a crucial election.

Source : https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexico-wave-political-murders-eats-away-democracy-2024-05-24/

(The story is published based on the data from a syndicated feed. However there can be minor changes from the original source article.)

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