Violence overshadows upcoming midterm elections in Mexico | Crime News
With the campaign over as Mexico’s midterm elections approach, many are hoping the bloodshed is over in what experts have described as one of the bloodiest election seasons in recent history.
According to Etellekt, a security consulting firm, at least 89 politicians, including 35 candidates, have been killed in more than 200 campaign days. Separately, the company recorded 782 attacks against politicians and candidates, ranging from verbal threats and intimidation to beatings, property damage, kidnappings, attacks on family members and abuse of authority.
Of these, 75 percent were against opposition politicians and candidates from governments where the offenses were committed. Seventy-five percent of the politicians killed were also members of opposition parties.
“What will mark this election is the violence that has occurred mainly against opponents of state governments or municipalities,” Etellekt director Ruben Salazar told Al Jazeera.
“It must also be said that 44% of the 89 dead were part of the opposition coalition against the federal government. In short, what we are witnessing here is political violence, where being part of the opposition implies [you will be] more at risk in this country.
Trend of violence
The June 6 elections, considered the most important in the country’s history, will determine 15 of 32 state governors, a new lower house of Congress and thousands of local mayor and legislator positions – more than 20,000 positions in total, according to at the National Electoral Institute of Mexico (INE). Almost 95 million people have the right to vote.
Mexican President Andres Lopez Manuel Obrador, known as AMLO, will not be on the ballot, but his leftist party Morena and allies hope to retain a two-thirds majority in the Chamber of Deputies to help the president to advance policies. in the last three years of his mandate.
“These crimes are more than just a number,” city councilor Lorenzo Cordova, president of the INE, said last week of the rise in violence. “These are people who have decided to participate in politics using the democratic path … We condemn violence and barbarism.”
However, this is not the first time that Mexico has witnessed attacks during an election campaign.
Indicator of political violence @etellekt_ Actualización: Con el asesinato de Cipriano Villanueva, candidato a regidor por Chiapas Unido, en #Acapetahua, Chiapas, son 89 los políticos asesinados fr # Elections2021MX (35 de ellos eran aspirantes y candidates a puestos electivos). pic.twitter.com/5r9kjrrvqO
– Etellekt (@etellekt_) May 28, 2021
Translation: Indicator of political violence @etellekt_Update: With the assassination of Cipriano Villanueva, candidate for mayor of … Chiapas, there are 89 politicians murdered in # MexicanElections2021 (35 of them were hopes and candidates for office elective).
In the 2018 federal election, Etellekt reported a total of 774 acts of violence and 152 political assassinations. In 2015, in the last midterm vote, the country also recorded 61 political assassinations over nine months, according to Etellekt.
“In Mexico, since the last three federal elections, we have seen an increase in political violence,” said Gerardo Rodriguez, director of the department of international relations and political science at the University of the Americas in Puebla.
“We normally see violence before election day, then there is a pause during elections, and after the results are announced, we see an increase again,” he said.
Yet despite the statistics, voters say they are not intimidated. “Exercising our right to vote is the best way to protect ourselves as well,” said Andrea Aguila, an industrial engineer in the state of Mexico, which surrounds the capital Mexico City.
“We cannot live in a country of fear and allow both violence and organized crime to rob us of our rights. Voting is our right and exercising it is the way to fight this violence, ”she told Al Jazeera.
Meanwhile, Lopez Obrador blamed the rise in workplace violence for organized criminal gangs, accusing them of trying to prevent people from voting. “I want to tell people that we shouldn’t be afraid,” AMLO said at a recent conference.
In such a scenario, “there is abstention and the Mafia dominates the elections, whether it is organized crime, as they say, or white collar crime; so the best is to vote, nobody should remain without participating ”, he declared.
Rodriguez also blamed organized crime for the violence, saying these groups “seek to influence local politics at municipal and state levels to benefit from criminal political immunity pacts, which allows them to continue to operate under the protection of local governments. “.
It also makes the job of political candidates more and more difficult. “[In current times] it is more dangerous to be a politician during an election than to be a journalist during a war, ”said Rodriguez.
The International Crisis Group think tank estimates that around 450 criminal groups operate in Mexico, but crimes are rarely solved. Based on the analyzed data (PDF) by the local non-profit association Impunidad Cero, from October 2017 to September 2018, only 1.3% of crimes resulted in the laying of charges by prosecutors and the appearance of the accused before a judge .
“The problem is structural in Mexico,” Rodriguez explained.
“The murders are not being investigated as they should be, there are not enough experts, there is not enough capacity in state prosecutors or enough judges to conduct these investigations. We are therefore confronted with this structural impunity which facilitates, which favors, this political violence. “